Watts The Big Idea?

Minimize your footprint. Think green. Waste not, want not.

edn logo These are the new mantras of our green-conscious society. Every day innovative companies come out with waste-saving devices that are guaranteed to lessen our impact on the planet.

For quite some time now, CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) have been viewed as an energy-efficient answer to the world's lighting needs. A recent article points out there's room for improvement in CFL's efficiency by improving the bulbs' power factor (PF).

watt According to EDN Technical Editor Margery Conner CFLs are not achieving their maximum energy efficiency because cost-cutting in their design and manufacture has resulted in the bulbs having a power factor well below the ideal of unity.

"The additional current required by these low PF devices mean increased energy lost in the grid due to such things as I2R losses. These power losses don't show up directly on consumers' electricity bills, but the utilities sure see the effects."

While Margery believes that CFLs are still an efficient form of lighting, she goes on to say that with the $2 per bulb price point, utilities can decrease their grid losses by subsidizing CFLs with PFs closer to unity, rather than their dismal .5 power factor, which is apparently the current industry average for CFLs.

Recent testing has shown that CFLs vary in term of efficiency when measured on a simple Kill-A-Watt monitor. For a relatively low cost, you can monitor all the CFLs in your home and change out low PF bulbs for more efficient high PF bulbs.


Utilities suffer from CFLs' poor power factor is written by Margery Conner, Technical Editor at EDN. For the complete article and many more visit EDN Magazine.