Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Replacement Guide

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Introduction

Replacing inefficient incandescent bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs should be really easy.  Just take out the old incandescent bulb and replace it with the equivalent energy saving bulb and you’ve saved the planet, all in 18 seconds!

It should be that easy, but unfortunately it’s not always so.  For a start, many compact fluorescent bulbs are bigger than the incandescent bulbs they replace, so they won’t always fit.  Secondly, fluorescent bulbs don’t necessarily give off as much light as the bulbs they say that they replace.  The packaging may say that it’s equivalent to a 60W bulb but it may be 10% or 20% dimmer.  Compact fluorescent bulbs also come in three colours – warm white, cool white and daylight, with a few other shades seen occasionally.  All of this means that it’s a lot easier to get the wrong bulb.

Once you’ve worked out what kind of bulb you want, you have to go and buy it, and it has to be there available for purchase.  That is another story in itself.

This is my guide to replacing your incandescent light bulbs with energy saving bulbs.  This guide is for Australian readers.  Currently, only compact fluorescent bulbs are covered. 

This guide includes reviews and recommendations of various energy saving bulbs that I’ve tried and also mentions a few other bulbs that look good on paper at least.  The sections on individual light bulbs include three sections:

  • My picks
  • Possible contenders
  • Comments

Only bulbs that I have tried and that I recommend are listed in My Picks.  Other bulbs that look good on paper are placed into Possible Contenders.

In order to make it onto the My Picks or Possible Contenders list, energy saver bulbs have to meet the following conditions, or come very close to meeting them:

  • They must produce at least the minimum amount of light as the incandescent bulbs they replace, as set out in a National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Program discussion paper called Minimum Energy Performance Standards document for compact fluorescent lamps.
  • They must be no bigger than the incandescent bulbs they’re supposed to replace.

In some cases, bulbs are included in My Picks and Possible contenders that don’t meet the above two conditions, however, they come close, falling short of the minimum light output by no more than 5%, or the maximum length by about a centimetre.

Some bulbs that didn't make it into My Picks or Possible Contenders, but which are worth noting, are included in an Also Worth Mentionning section.

Disclaimer

This guide contains information about bulbs available, and in some cases, unavailable, in Australia.

The author has no vested interest in the sale of any particular product by any particular supplier.

This guide is based on my own observation and on information published on the web and on product packaging.  This is a guide only.  It contains measurements which are based the above sources and in some cases my personal measurements. This guide does not guarantee that bulbs that are available will conform to these measurements as manufacturers may change their bulb specifications without notice and the published data and my measurements may be in error.

This guide provides general advice only.  This guide is provided as is, and makes no guaranties or assertions whatsoever.  By following any advice in this guide, you agree neither to hold the author responsible nor liable for any consequences of doing so, and you hereby indemnify the author for all costs and consequences arising from you doing so.

If you do not accept or agree to any part of this disclaimer, your sole remedy is to not follow any advice in this guide.

Update History

12/11/2008 Added info about Philips Tornado bulbs available with a small edison screw base.
25/11/2011 Update in progress

Best Replacement Energy Saving Bulbs for Standard Light Bulbs

This is a guide for replacing standard indandescent bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs.

Please note that these bulbs cannot be dimmed unless it says otherwise.

For replacing 75W standard incandescent bulbs or lower, I’d go for the micro spiral shaped bulbs in most situations.   They are no bigger than incandescent light bulbs and some may be even small enough to replace fancy round bulbs.  The light distribution of spiral shaped bulbs is more even than stick shaped bulbs.  Also, the light source is centred at about the same position as an incandescent light bulb’s light, so it is less likely to stick out or look off centre in a light fixture.

However, for replacing a 100W standard incandescent bulb or higher, I’d go for the larger spirals in most situations.  This is because the 20W micro spirals currently available produce 20% less light than the 100W incandescent bulbs they replace.  The bigger spirals may be bigger but the light is still more evenly distributed like incandescent light bulbs.  Check that they will fit where you want to put them.

One exception to the above rule is for replacing bulbs in wall lights – stick shaped bulbs may be better for these.  Stick shaped bulbs give out most light to the sides, so they'll light up the walls but not so much the floor or ceiling.

Another exception is if you are concerned about accidentally smashing the fluorescent tube –bulb shaped bulbs mean you hit the outer casing first and you may stop before hitting the glass tube.   However, this guide does not make any assertions as to whether these bulbs are safer or less safe, so please seek other advice if you are concerned about safety.

Best Replacement for a 25W Standard Bulb

My Picks

  1. Philips Tornado 5W
  2. Philips Genie 5W

Possible contenders

  • Mirabella Spiral 5W
  • Mirabella Petite Spiral 5W - NO LONGER AVAILABLE

Comments

The Philips Tornado 5W is the smallest spiral shaped 5W compact fluorescent bulbs I know of, yet still has decent light output and a great shape.  At just 77mm it's only 7mm longer than a fancy round incandescent bulb, so should be able to replace a fancy round in many situations, but only if it has an Edison screw or bayonet cap base.  The small edison screw base bulb is slightly longer.  To my knowledge a small bayonet cap base Tornado is not available.

Next comes the Philips Genie 5W.  Although it's stick shaped, it does produce a bright enough output to make it a reasonable replacement for a 25W bulb.  It’s probably too big to replace a fancy round bulb.  Besides, why would you want to get one when you could get a Tornado that’s smaller, has more even light distribution, and produces more light output?

The Mirabella Spiral (non petite that is) should be as good as the formerly available petite spiral except that it's bigger.  I haven't tried one of these out so I'm not sure.  I don't know why you would want to buy one of these bulbs when you could get a similar result from their smaller petite spiral.

Best Replacement for a 40W Standard Bulb

My Picks

  1. GE Tiny 8W
  2. Mirabella Spiral 8W
  3. Philips Genie 8W

Possible Contenders

  • Philips Tornado 8W
  • Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist 8W
  • Philips Ambiance A55 8W

Comments

The GE Tiny 8W is the only 8W micro spiral bulb that I have any experience with.  It is only 83mm so may even be able to replace a 40W fancy round bulb in many situations.  Although some of these bulbs that I’ve tried have given off a slight hum, I still like them.

The Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist bulbs are a similar size (bayonet cap and edison screw only) so should fit almost anywhere a GE Tiny does.

Both these bulbs are also available with small edison screw and small bayonet cap bases.

The Philips Tornado is a similar size, but unlike the other two bulbs, is not available with a small bayonet cap base as far as I know.

The Philips Genie is a stick shape so light distribution won't be as even as a spiral, but the light output is equivalent to a 40W bulb.  However the GE, Philips and Osram spirals above produce more light. 

Another problem that I've experienced with this bulb is colour consistency.  The two Genie 8W bulbs that I bought had vastly different colours, one that I liked and one that I really disliked, and this has turned me somewhat away from Philips for awhile.  However, at 106mm in length (bayonet cap base), it should fit almost anywhere a normal 40W lightbulb would fit.  Recently I bought some Tornado 5W bulbs and their colour was much better and very consistent.  The Mirabella Spiral has a more even light distribution and I prefer this over the Philips Genie.  However, it's bigger than the GE Tiny, Philips Tornado and the Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist, and even longer than the stick shaped Philips Genie by about 1 cm.

The Philips Ambiance A55 has a similar shape to, and is no bigger than, a standard incandescent light bulb, and it is bright enough to be equivalent to a 40W incandescent bulb.  It should fit in more places than other compact fluorescent bulbs because even the ballast is shaped more like the underside of an incandescent bulb than the others.  However, you have tow atch out when buying this bulb, as Philips has some similar bulbs with about 10% less light output.  When buying this bulb, lok at the underside of this bulb and make sure that the output is around 400 lumens.

Best Replacement for a 60W Standard Bulb

My Picks

  1. GE Tiny 12W
  2. Philips Tornado 12W

Possible Contenders

  • Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist 11W
  • Megaman GA913i (not available in Australia)

Comments

One again, the GE Tiny is one of the smallest 60W replacements that I’ve seen.  It may not replace a 60W fancy round in many applications, but it should be able to replace a 60W incandescent bulb in most situations.

The above also applies for the Philips Tornado.  On the one hand, the quoted lumen output is slightly brighter than for the GE Tiny.  However, I like the output colour of the GE Tiny bulbs that I have bought a lot more than the colour output of the two Philips Tornados that I bought.  Given my previous experience with Philips, I don't know if they will all be the same colour.  I should also say that there is some variation in colour of the GE Tiny bulbs that I've used.

The Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist has similar dimensions, however, I haven't tried one out so I don't know what they're like.

Only the GE Tiny bulbs are also available with small bayonet cap or small edison screw bases.  The Philips Tornado is laso available with a small edison screw base.

The Megaman GA913i is a bulb shaped bulb that is bright enough to replace a 60W incandescent bulb.  However, to my knowledge it is not available in Australia.

Best Replacement for a 75W Standard Bulb

My Picks

  1. GE Tiny 15W
  2. GE Entice 14W
  3. GE Excite 15W

Possible Contenders

  • Ecobulb 15W
  • Megaman GSU218i (not available in Australia

Comments

The GE Tiny 15W is the only one that’s shorter than a standard light bulb. However, the two that I bought have been inconsistent in colour.

The GE Entice and Excite are 2cm longer than a standard light bulb so you'll need to check that they'll fit where you want to put them.  The Entice uses less energy than the Excite and produces more light output, but it only lasts 8000 hours vs. the Excite which lasts 15000 hours. 

The Ecobulb 15W is slightly shorter.  It is a good all-round bulb on paper, but its main advantage is that it has a high power factor.  A low power factor means that the voltage is out of phase with the current.  If there are lots of low power factor compact fluorescent bulbs connected to the electricity supply, this may cause problems which will require the electricity suppliers to spend money to fix.  High power factor bulbs reduce the likelihood of this happening.  I do not know if the other bulbs are high or low power factor.

The Megaman GSU213i is a bulb shaped bulb that is the only one that I’m aware of that produces as much light as a clear 75W incandescent bulb.  However it is about 1cm longer than a standard light bulb, and is not available in Australia.

Best Replacement for a 100W Standard Bulb

My Picks

  1. GE Excite 20W
  2. GE Entice 20W

Possible Contenders

  • Philips Tornado 20W
  • Osram DuluxStar 18W
  • Ecobulb 20W
  • GE Dimmable 20W

Also Worth Mentioning

  • GE Tiny 20W
  • Philips Tornado Dimmable 20W

Comments

For this category I like the excite over the entice, simply because the one entice bulb that I bought produced a purplish colour light after about 6 minutes that I really disliked.  I don't know if they're all like this, but I'm not going to waste more money or cupboard space to find out.  The 20W Excite bulbs that I have don't have this problem.  Both bulbs are aobut 1.5-2cm longer than a standard incandescnet bulb so you should check to see if it'll fit where you want it to go.  The Entice produces more light output than the Excite for the same wattage, but only lasts 8000 hours vs. 15000 hours for the Excite.

The Philips Tornado 20W is a possible contender.  However, it's longer still than both the above GE bulbs, but it's narrower than them, and narrower than a standard light bulb, so it may fit in some places that the above GE bulbs won't.

The Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist produces the same amount of light as the GE Excite yet uses 10% less energy.  However I haven’t seen one in action.

The Ecobulb 20W produces as much light as the GE Entice, but is a high power factor bulb.  I do not know if the other bulbs are high or low power factor.

The GE Tiny is the same length as a typical incandescent light bulb, so it should fit in most places an incandescent light bulb would fit, but check beforehand.  However, I've put this bulb into the Also Worth Mentioning category rather than as a possible contender because the light output is significantly less than a 100W incandescent bulb - 1100 lumens vs. 1330-1340 lumens.

The Philips Tornado Dimmable 20W also has significantly less output at 1150 lumens.  However, the GE Dimmable 20W produces as much light as the Entice.

Best Replacement Energy Saving Bulbs for Other Light Bulbs

If you’re replacing candle bulbs in a chandelier, then you may want to choose between stick shaped bulbs and candle shaped bulbs.  The stick shaped bulbs would produce more light as they are not covered, and may be slightly more compact, but the candle ones look like a candle, so maybe more aesthetically pleasing.  However, stick shaped bulbs with small screw bases are hard to find, but they do exist.  Candle shaped bulbs with these fixtures are easier to find.

For other shaped bulbs, use the energy saving bulbs that are the same shape as the ones you're replacing, but ONLY if they will fit where you want to put them.  Also make sure that they produce enough light.

Please note that these bulbs cannot be dimmed unless it says otherwise.

Best Replacement for a 25W Fancy Round Bulb

My Picks

  • Philips Tornado 5W
  • Mirabella Petite Spiral 5W

Possible contenders

  • None

Also Worth Mentioning

  • Megaman Ping Pong GA805i (may not be available in Australia)
  • Other 5W fancy round bulbs.

Comments

The Philips Tornado 5W is the smallest spiral shaped 5W compact fluorescent bulbs I know about, yet still has decent light output and a great shape.  At just 77mm (bayonet cap) it's only 7mm longer than a fancy round incandescent bulb, so should be able to replace a fancy round in most situations, but the above size is only for an Edison screw or bayonet cap base.  The 5W Tornado is also available with a small edison screw base.

The Mirabella Petite Spiral is bigger at approx. 83mm (bayonet cap base). It also has fewer spirals so the light distribution may not be as even, but I'm not sure about this.  Furthermore, if you use it to replace a fancy round 25W it in a 150mm oyster or similar, the light source will be closer to the surface so it'll look more like a point rather than lighting the whole oyster.  Also, neither the website nor the box has specifications for the bulb so there's no way to know in advance whether the light output will match the incandescent bulbs they're supposed to replace. However it does also come in small bayonet cap and small edison screw bases, whereas the Philips Tornado is not available in a small bayonet cap base.

The Megaman Ping Pong is only 74mm long (Edison screw) so should fit in most places.  However, I’m not sure that these are available in Australia.

There are other 5W fancy round bulbs on the market.  However, most of them are much longer than  fancy round incandescent bulbs..  If you just need something that looks like a fancy round, then you could try one of these.  But if you are limited by space then check that they fit where you want to put them first.

Best Replacement for a 40W Fancy Round Bulb

My Picks

  • GE Tiny 8W

Possible contenders

  • Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist 8W
  • Philips Tornado 8W

Comments

Although these bulbs are around 83mm-84mm long, 13-14 mm longer than a fancy round, they may be able to replace a 40W fancy round in many situations.

The GE Tiny 8W is the only 8W micro spiral bulb that I have tried.  Although some of these bulbs that I’ve tried have given off a slight hum I still like them.  The Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist bulbs are a similar size (bayonet cap and edison screw only) so should fit almost anywhere a GE Tiny does.
Both these bulbs are also available with small edison screw and small bayonet cap bases.

The Philips Tornado is a similar size, and is available with a small edison screw base, but not a sall bayonet cap base.

There are other 8-9W fancy round bulbs on the market.  However, most of them are much bigger than a fancy round incandescent bulb.  If you just need something that looks like a fancy round, then you could try one of these.  But if you are limited by space then check that they fit first.

Best Replacement for a 60W Fancy Round Bulb

My Picks

  • None

Possible contenders

  • None

Also Worth Considering

  • GE Tiny 12W
  • Philips Tornado 12W
  • Osram DuluxStar Mini Twist 11W

Comments

There are no compact fluorescent bulbs that I am aware of that are small enough to replace a 60W fancy round bulb.  The smallest ones I am aware of are 91mm in length which is closer to a standard light bulb than a fancy round bulb.

The best you can do is hope that one of the micro spiral bulbs (such as the ones listed above) is small enough to replace your particular 60W fancy round bulb.

If you want something that looks like a fancy round and are not restricted by space, then you could try a bulb that looks like a traditional light bulb or a globe shaped bulb.

Best Replacement for a 25W Candle

My Picks

  • None

Possible Contenders

  • Megaman 5W Candle (model number unknown)

Also Worth Mentioning

  • Megaman CL705i (not sure if it's available in Australia)
  • Megaman CL405 (not sure if it's available in Australi)

Comments

I am not aware of any replacements for a 25W candle that produce as much light and are small enough.  This includes the Megaman lamps, which produce 180 lumen of light compared to 215-220 for a standard 25W candle.  A Megaman 5W candle is available but I'm not sure which model.

An alternative is to find a stick shaped 5W compact fluorescent bulb.

Best Replacement for a 40W Candle

My Picks

  • Philips Ambiance Candle 8W

Possible Contenders

  • Megaman CL709i 9W Candle (not available in Australia)
  • Megaman CL409 9W Candle (not available in Australia)

Comments

The Philips Ambiance Candle became available in May, and is the best in its class that I have seen in Australia so far.  While many 7W candle replacement bulbs don't produce nearly as much light as a 40W incandescent candle, the 8W Philips candle replacement comes the closest, very close indeed, to being the ideal 40W incandescent candle replacement.  Its output is 370 lumens, which is 7.5% less than the Philips 40W incandescent candle (400 lumens) but only slightly less than the GE incandescent candle (374 lumens).  Its length is around 116mm (small bayonet cap base) which is 2cm longer than a standard candle bulb, so you need to check that it will fit where you want it to go.

Although I have rated this bulb as the best, there are some points about this bulb you should be aware of.  Unlike other Philips compact fluorescent bulbs which start almost instantly, this bulb takes one second to start.  When it does come on, the light is very dim and pink.  The colour improves quickly, but it takes about 3 minutes to reach its full brightness.  However, Philips do mention this on the packaging.

Another thing to note is that if you put them in a chandelier that sparkles with incandescent light bulbs, it won't sparkle as much with compact fluorescent bulbs.  This is because the light source more diffuse than typical clear candle bulbs.  However this will probably be true of all compact fluorescent candle shaped bulbs as they are a large opaque light source rather than a small filament light source like a clear incandescent bulb.

I like the colour of these bulbs more than the colour of some of the other bare Philips bulbs I have bought in the last year.  Also, all three candles that I've bought have had the same colour once they warmed up, so I'm really happy with their colour consistency.

The Megaman 9W candles mentioned above look like they could be better than the Philips Ambiance candles.  Their light output is comparable to an incandescent 40W candle, they are about 1 cm longer than a standard candle but slightly shorter than the Philips candle, and they have a rubber coating, so there's less likelihood of scratching if chandalier parts should swing into them.  However, this is only on paper - I don't think they are available in Australia yet, only the Megaman 7W candles are.

Best Replacement for a 60W Candle

My Picks

  • None

Possible Contenders

  • None

Comments

I don’t know of any candle shaped energy saving bulbs that are about the same length as a 60W candle and produce a similar amount of light.

References

The above is based on my experience, information from the bulb packaging, information on the manuracturers' websites, and in some cases, information from other websites.

The light output minimums to replace particular wattage lamps are taken from set out in a Minimum Energy Performance Standards discussion paper on compact fluorescent lamps produced by the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Program and published on their website.

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