For those of you not up on the latest technological trends, standard household voltage in this country is between 110 and 120 volts. So, "Why," you might ask, "would someone rate a bulb at 130 volts?" Well, I'd ask, anyway.
It all started several years ago when GE decided that consumers were becoming energy conscious about their choice in light bulbs, but not so energy conscious that they'd shell out thirty bucks for a dim and flickering fluorescent bulb. Thus was born the "Miser Light" series. GE's brilliant (sorry) idea was to sell bulbs that were five watts less powerful than what you meant to buy. Want a 100 watt bulb? Buy a 95 instead!
Of course, legally, they had to tell you that you were paying more to get a less powerful and less bright bulb. Probably to the amazement of GE executives, the average consumer actually must have read the packaging because GE recently pulled the product. But, ingenious businessmen that they are, the folks at GE did not give up on selling less bulb for more money.
The current "energy saving" offering is a bulb that says it's 100 watts, but if you read the fine print it only achieves this output at 130 volts. Thus, in the reality of your 120 volt home, you only get a 92 watt bulb. What's worse, since the light is effectively dimmed, it glows slightly orange instead of white as a bulb would at it's rated voltage. But I guess GE figures you won't notice this until after you've paid for it.
Every light fixture has a maximum rating which, contrary to popular belief, is important. While putting a 100 watt bulb in a 60 watt socket won't cause the the light bulb police to come beating down your door, it will over heat the fixture. Over time, this will cause the wiring, lamp shade, cowling, and socket to deteriorate. Aside from the obvious danger of the shade or cowling catching fire, there's the more subtle problem of the socket and wire insulation crumbling and falling off. This problem ceases to be subtle when they short circuit and either electrocute you or start a fire.
Side Rant: I just had to have two light fixtures in my house replaced because the previous tenants had used 100 watt bulbs everywhere and burned out the wiring, causing minor shorts and power fluctuations that made my computers rather miffed.
Don't exceed the maximum wattage of the fixture!
If you really don't want to have to change your bulb again for a while, there are several "long life" types of bulbs out there. Some just plain last longer, while others use a "double filament" design. The "last longer" ones give you full performance for the life of the bulb, which is nice if your concern is not having to change it very often. The "double filament" kind have (surprise) two filaments inside. The first one is at the full rating of the bulb and won't last any longer than a normal bulb. The second one is dimmer and will come on the moment the first one breaks (assuming the shrapnel from the first one breaking doesn't take out the second one too). This type doesn't really last longer: the advantage is that when it goes, you still have some light to see by and you know that it's time to get a replacement. This is nice for security lights where you'd rather not be left completely in the dark.
The question is, do you notice? Personally, I can see the flicker from even "non-flicker" bulbs and it gives me a headache if I'm trying to read. Some people don't notice the flicker even from regular fluorescents. In any event, every bulb brand is different so if you are sensitive to flickering, just assume they all will. This doesn't mean you can't use fluorescents, however. The trick is to mix types. Since flickering bothers me, I pair a fluorescent with an incandescent whenever possible. The incandescent provides enough background glow that I don't notice the flickering. You can save power by using a low power incandescent paired with a bright fluorescent as noted later.
For example, my bathroom inexplicably has only one light socket that is only rated for 60 watts. That makes for a pretty dim room. But by putting in a "100 watt equivalent" fluorescent that really only uses 40 watts of power, I'm under the limit and I get a bright bathroom.
As I mentioned above, it's often useful in a multi-bulb fixture to mix bulb types. The important thing is to make sure that none of the bulbs' actual power consumption exceeds the rated limit of the socket. This is pretty easy since I don't know of any compact fluorescents which use more than 40 watts. Better still, it only takes one dim incandescent (40 or 60 watts) to eliminate color and flicker problems. Thus the 120 watt max light fixture above my head is putting out 160 watts "equivalent" of light with a 60 watt incandescent and a 40 watt compact fluorescent: lots of light, no flicker, good color, using 38.5% less power and generating about 38.5% less heat.
Ultimately, using some fluorescents will save you money. In the summer, they'll actually save you money twice: they use less electricity AND they generate less heat for your A/C to remove.
This rant solely reflects the opinion of the author, probably while he was half asleep, drunk, or otherwise incapacitated. It does not necessarily reflect the actual opinion of DEI, it's associates, or possibly the author in a more conscious state. Hate mail will be prosecuted. Constructive criticism may be posted or ignored. Have a nice day.