GE "ship in a bottle" CFL reinvents the compact flourescent lightbulb

Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) have improved so much in the past few years. Yet much as I know about how wasteful old-school incandescents are, I’m one of those folks who has only grudgingly changed over.

It’s about the quality of light, mostly. Maybe it’s because I live in NYC’s urban canyons where I don’t get to see the sky as much as I’d like. I’m just not eager to fill my living spaces with the harsh, cold light of first-generation CFLs.

There are other problems, too. Many CFLs are a bit big bigger than the bulbs they replace, and don’t fit in some ceiling fixtures or lamps. And I’ve found CFLs can take longer than to fully warm up, so if you’re using them in a room you zip and out of — say a bathroom or quick kitchen stop — it can mean you don’t get full light before you turn them off again.

All the same, I’ve kept an eye on CFLs in recent few years, watching for when they get good enough to end my ambivalence. CFLs are getting smaller, faster to start, and with better light quality so fast that it seems every few months my Home Depot is showing something better, and closer to my ideal.

With it’s latest entry, GE may have answered my lingering complaints. I’ve been trying out one their Energy Smart CFLs for the past few days and have found it to be the closet option yet to an old-school incandescent bulb. Most obvious is the form factor: GE has shrunk the control electronics that typically make up a clunky base in most of today’s CFLs such that it all fits snugly in the confines of a standard bulb shape. The tell-tail spiral glass tubing is invisible too, tucked behind a regular-looking frosted glass bulb that’s manufactured, according to the engineer in the company video below, “like building a ship in a bottle.” The bulb fires up to full brightness instantly and is very close to the warm white of an old fashioned bulb.

The bulbs go on sale at Target on Dec 28 and at Sam’s Club and Walmart and other retail outlets by next Earthday, around April 22.

Check out a bit more about how this works below:

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.