Further Freudian illumination

The 85-watt compact fluorescent lamp I wrote about almost two years ago now still works fine. (Though the eBay seller I bought it from has vanished.)

But that lamp now looks a little... weedy.

Huge CFL

This monster has a power rating - the actual power it draws, not the "equivalent" power that an incandesent bulb would have to draw to output the same amount of light - of two hundred and fifty watts.

(I found it in the eBay store of "DigiMate3". As sometimes happens on eBay, this store has a twin with all the same products, called CNW International.)

This lamp's output, in incandescent-equivalent terms, has to be something like 1200 watts. Since it's got the simple out-and-back design that doesn't get in its own way as much as a more compact (but in this case baroquely complex) spiral, I wouldn't be surprised if it actually shines as bright as three 500-watt halogen floodlights.

My 85W lamp lights the room it's in to about 205 lux, measuring on top of the spare bed that I use for most of my product photography. That's about half the brightness of outdoor light at sunrise or sunset on a clear day. This thing'd probably manage an easy 600 lux all by itself.

A few of these lamps would probably make fantastic workroom or warehouse lights. You could probably even power them from a normal domestic lighting circuit - many normal light sockets can deliver 250 watts safely, especially if they don't also have to cope with a 250-watt incandescent filament blasting away six inches away from the socket's plastic parts.

(You couldn't directly install these lamps in a normal light-bulb socket, because they use the big E39/E40 "Mogul" version of the Edison-screw fitting, rather than the bayonet fitting that's normal here in Australia or the "medium" Edison screw that most US light bulbs use. They're also obviously too heavy to dangle from a poor innocent domestic bulb socket, even if they'd otherwise fit; you can get simple screw-in medium-to-mogul adapters, but they don't magically make the bulb weightless. It wouldn't be a big deal to whip up a home-made luminaire to fit these lamps, though. You might even not electrocute yourself.)

You could even use these things as photo lights, though their colour rendering probably isn't all that great. The seller claims a Colour Rendering Index of 80, which ain't that bad, but might not be accurate.

I think most people who buy this things intend to use them as hydroponic grow-lights, though. I've written about this area of human endeavour before.

(Just think how much electricity would be saved if marijuana were legal, so people could grow it in their garden, instead of in their garage...)

Here's a hydroponic company being a bit sniffy about these "unbranded" lamps, which do indeed seem to be inferior to their similar...

Giant CFL comparison

...but even bigger product.

If you've found a CFL that's bigger still, do tell us in the comments.

UPDATE: It took some doing, but I managed to come up with something much more ridiculous than this bulb.

12 Responses to “Further Freudian illumination”

  1. loseweightslow Says:

    I bought one of the "small" 85 watters for my parents sewing/computer room. They replaced 5 existing 15 watt CFs with just the one globe. That thing is like the sun.
    They make a good, if quirky, house warming present too.
    I don't think these giant globes are as interesting because they the specialised socket.

  2. peridot Says:

    Er, it's a little difficult to be impressed with the enormity of the bulbs when there's nothing in the picture to gauge the scale... even the fitting is not a familiar size!

    As for the CRI, for the ones you review, you could include a picture of the spectrum. Though it might tell you more about the filters in your digicam than the light source... with some raw file wizardry and the Sun as calibrator, I guess you could remove that effect.

  3. DominicT Says:

    The article at the hydroponics company you linked to is especially scathing about the missing and damaged tube spacers in the unbranded lamps, which they seem to think represent a danger akin to breeding scorpions in your bedroom slippers. I've looked around and can't find such dire warnings about tube spacers elsewhere; any idea what's up with that?

  4. Stark Says:

    They are quite large. The E40 socket is, predicatably enough, 40MM in diameter. So, from a quick bit of image measurment and extrapolation here - the big one in the bottom picture is ~40CM long by 12cm wide. The smaller one is ~34 x 12. These are by no mean exact measuerments... but still, BIG for a light bulb.

    For any fellow Americans who may still have trouble visualizing metric (and I know lots of us do...sigh)... they are about 15.75"x4.75" and 13.5"x4.75"

  5. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    Now I've got to go find some 85-watters with a standard E26 Edison screw on 'em... These are just too large. If it's over a foot long, it better mount sideways by default - and none of our sockets do. Crazy.

    DominicT, I'm gonna hazard a guess that they're just having a bitch-fit because the smaller bulbs are more practical...

  6. frasera Says:

    lol grow lights:) pot heads rejoice! less heat signature!
    less obvious power consumption:P

    as for home lighting, generally a bad idea for all but the biggest rooms. lighting design affects mood and appearance of rooms. it is better to have multiple lights of different types such as task and ambient lighting to create a good look/mood that is pleasant instead of a warehouse glare. and of course a room that is too bright at night can mess with your body clock. there are books on this stuff in the home improvement section of bookstores of course.

  7. Red October Says:

    Stateside the E40 Mogul base has two common uses- some very large indeed lamps for things like warehouses and the like, and similarly large 3-way (that is, having three intensities. I'm not sure if this term is common elsewhere) floor lamps. Some are "Torchier" types and others have a sort of candelabra arrangement with three smaller (Edison base) globes around the main lamp. In both cases the lamp sits in a sort of glass "bowl". Shades can be used with them but they look OK without them provided you use the dim orange flame-shaped bulbs in the outer sockets. They can really throw a LOT of light, but can draw beyond half a kilowatt on full (The E40 has 3 settings; 100, 200, and 300 watts -hence a "3-way").

    In theory such a large CFL could easily be supplied by such a lamp although it might stick out the top and look stupid. There might also be an issue with socket clearance as the socket is recessed into the lamp a bit.

  8. Dougally Says:

    I work for one of the mid size Aussie retailers in the dept managing their warehouses. Using similar sized CFL lights has saved 30% of the lighting electricity bill on lighting in our existing warehouses with higher lux output than our previous metal halide units. In our new warehouses we will be able to space these further apart saving perhaps 40%?? on the electricity bill for equivalent lux lighting levels as metal halide.

    Do a web search on Lear & Smith of Tuggerah NSW - They come in 200w and 300w units. The 300W replaces our 420w metal halides. We get volume pricing so it is better you get your own pricing. However a ballpark guide of AUD $200-$400 including polished reflector style high bay fitting and starter, plus extra $ for a diffuser in pre-dollar drop due to world financial crisis pricing terms.

    At a equivalent light output of 420w, these only just manage to fall on the industrial end of the application range !)

    They may not be the biggest CFL's, but are likely to perform more reliably in the long run than the the chinese cheapies you can find with a web search.

    Good luck in your application inventiveness!!!

  9. KeithH Says:

    Unbelievable! The largest CFL I can find in stores here (in NYC) is a 300 Watt equivalent (for $15).

    I'm still looking for 2 CFL's. Does anyone know where I can get (on the web?):

    1) A 50-200-250 (or higher) watt equivalent -- std socket.
    2) A 100-200-300 (or higher) watt equiv. -- Mogul socket.

  10. KeithH Says:

    Let me clarify my earlier post (#9).

    I'm looking to buy, in a store or on the web, 2 kinds of CFLs that I have been unable to find:

    1) A three-way, 50-200-250 (or higher) watt equivalent CFL, with a standard-size socket.

    2) A three-way 100-200-300 (or higher) watt equivalent CFL, with a mogul socket.


  11. PlanetBulb Says:

    We have some of the monsters in a slightly different version. Instead of a ton of duo-tubes on one base we have one large spiral tube. I think it looks better. Ours 85w is medium screw base so you can use it in any normal fixutre. The larger 105w sp medium base or mogul base so you can put it in more fixtures.

    For those of you wondering how big these monster energy savers actually are please check out our High watt spiral video

    If you're interested in ordering some or viewing more information here are the links to the details:
    105w medium base
    105w mogul base
    85w medium base

  12. twinbee Says:

    I gave up on the 85w CFL too, and instead bought a 1kw halogen floodlight which I think churns out as much light as your 250-watt CFL here. It's a nice little heater in the winter too.

    For comparison:
    100w incandescent (@220v) = 1380 lumens
    85w CFL = around 5000-7000 lumens
    1000w halogen floodlight = around 20000-25000 lumens (16 100w bulbs worth!)

    Even the floodlight is not good enough to illuminate the infinitely detailed light-eating surface of say, a mandelbulb, and perhaps more importantly it's still pretty dull for general viewing in my living room. I'd be much happier with 2, 4, or even 8kw's worth.

    Better than nothing though.

    After briefly trying a standard 20w CFL again recently, I can't believe how 'cave-like' it is - I'd never go back despite it seeming 'okayish' at the time. And to think almost everyone uses them... ;)

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