CFLs and Ceiling Cans
Trapped heat can lead to shorter life when CFLs are used in ceiling cans, our expert says.
 
Having just started on a major renovation and addition to my old Victorian, I found compact fluorescents very useful. However, I heard 'somewhere' that CFLs are not a good choice for ceiling cans because the heat buildup seriously shortens the bulb's life. True or false?
Both screw-in CFLs and standard incandescent lamps have shorter lives when put into recessed fixtures. The heat rises toward the base and weakens it because the lamps are positioned vertically in the housing. The better-designed recessed fixtures on the market that use hard-wired CFLs are vented to allow the heat to escape. Plus, the lamps are positioned horizontally, which helps keep the heat away from the base. I just happen to prefer the look of LED downlights over CFL downlights for residential use.
Randall Whitehead lighting designer
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website www.randallwhitehead.com for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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