CFL Breakdown

Reader [Jay] was inspired by one of our earlier articles and started digging around the web for some more information, and found a handy web page with tear downs and schematics of popular compact florescent lamps.

Schematics are provided to 15 fairly common models including bigluz, isotronic, luxtek, maway, maxilux, polaris, brownie, Phillips, Ikea, Osram, and eurolight. Also, just in case you were ever interested in these little packages but did not want to open them due to sharp glass, mercury vapor, or phosphorus powders, photos are provided as well.

So if you need a few hundred extra volts to pack a little spark in your next project, need a 63rd way to cook your goose you should check this page out.

26 thoughts on “CFL Breakdown

  1. schematics are wholly for 230 volts though, so this is the antithesis of U.S,-centric information.

    I’ve got a number of CF bulbs (and LED night lights) that never lived up to the label claims of brightness or longevity.

    The LEDs go first in those ones, the CF usually blow a capacitor.

    I’m sure they could, with only a modest increase in pricing, give the CF bulbs the lifetime of commercial neon lamps.

  2. I had wonder for long now, why contactless fluorescent bulbs excited purely by magnetic energy almost non existent. Magnetic driving circuit is not any more complicated or costly and the bulb should outlast human lifetime. Well even if commercial nonexistence can be explained by evil greed, then why there inst any more luck in DIY community

  3. Well, though not interested in making something out of the CFL lights, I have taken many of these apart(just the electronics found in the white part) and was VERY disappointed to find that the usual reason for premature failure of the CFLs was solder joints which broke down!! Cheap, crappy manufacturing!

  4. When I moved to my new house we were missing a lot of light bulbs, I guess the previous tenants let them burn out and never replaced them for financial reasons (it was a foreclosure). So we made the jump to all CFL’s and are not very happy. I’d say about 50% of them failed within 3 months. And some make a crackling noise so I took those out as well. I heard horror stories of them crackling for awhile and then starting on fire.

    So their claim about saving money in the long run doesn’t really play out, you pay more out of pocket for them, and sure they use less energy, but they don’t last long enough to pay it off.

  5. I put 4 CFL’s in my den – my wife immediately noticed and hated them.

    One pair was ‘ecosmart’ from Home Depot – one failed in just a couple months. The other pair are GEs from Target, and one just failed at about 5 months.

    I snuck a Cree CR6 into the kitchen over my wife’s workspace and she never knew it. Put 15 more in the house and they are fantastic. My bride still doesn’t know, and I don’t get so crabby about lights left on.

  6. Maybe in USA you have some substandard CFLs? In Europe they come with 1 year warranty and typically last 2 years. I don’t remember last time when I changed a light bulb in my house.

    Author is from Chech Republic.

  7. I’ve had better luck with “recent” CFLs than older models. I like the IKEA bulbs, but it’s hard to beat the (subsidized by local electric utilities) prices of the sort of generic CFL bulbs available at costco and similar (usually “Feit” brand?)
    I wonder if 220V CFLs are fundamentally more reliable than 110V versions? The warranties are pretty useless since they require that you still have the original receipts/etc (after several months? Right.)

    The real annoyances are the circline fixtures and torchiers I’ve put in that seem to be prone to blowing their electronic ballasts nearly as often as they blow bulbs. It’s a major inconvenience to replace the fixtures, in addition to the expense. Grr.

  8. It’s the same crap in Europe too unless you’re lucky and happen to get some decent ones (which are usually damn expensive).

    I for one am still sticking to good old incandescent light bulbs. From September this year it will be illegal to sell 60W bulbs in Finland, so better start hoarding…

  9. I used to work commercial lighting. Plilips and Osram/Sylvania were the only ones that really lasted and then it was only the ones from Europe. We used some made by TCP and they were not bad. But anything else and forget it. Probably costs more in electricity and energy to make a POS CFL than it will save in energy during its short life span.

  10. I had no problem with CFLs. I’m using it in open light fixtures, it seems to makes them to last much longer. I’m using expensive ones in range of 4 to 8 euros.
    When they blow up it is usually electrolytic capacitor or neon tube itself. I am reusing electronic ballast from CFLs to power old school 18W fluorescent tubes. When placed away from heat sources electronic ballasts may last very long.

  11. I have it on good authority that CFLs can and do catch fire after a few months or years if they are particularly badly made.
    This can happen with no warning as the typical failure mode is for a capacitor to dry out which affects the oscillator and drives tens of amps into the tube resulting in massive overheating and eventual combustion.

    The cheap nonames are worst for this, unfortunately due to economies of scale the vast majority of bulbs out there are of this type.

    Do the maths people, £6 for a properly made bulb isn’t a lot to ask.

    Interestingly this is a direct result of cost cutting, the early CFLs used an iron ballast which didn’t fail in this way whereas the newer ones omit even a series thermal fuse on the input.
    The PCB used even has a space for one.

  12. I’ve had lots of CFLs fail on me after only a year or so of service. The most reliable ones I have are the first generation ones Ikea sold – the ones with straight tubes. I bought several of those when they first came out and not one has failed yet.

    1. most people do not eat it…I guess you may have the disease of being a liberal.. It make normal people stupid beyond belief.. You probably believe the lie about how humans cause the so called lie about “global warming”.. Science has proven humans have little to no affect on global temperatues..

  13. The one failure (after only three months) I looked at was because the electrolytic Capacitor failed. It’s max Voltage rating was lower than it should have been, so no wonder it failed.
    Sub-engineering or cost saving engineering, or maybe space saving.
    The evaluations of CFLs by Consumers Reports, etc. need to analyze the parts in the circuitry for the parts that they test. then balance the cost per bulb versus the proper reliable design, and that would figure into the life of the part.
    Also, I wonder if the real cheap ones use those salvaged, used cpmponents that get recycled in Asia.

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