Have ceiling fan, need small CFLs!
March 21, 2014 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Just purchased a ceiling fan that allows for 2 60W lightbulbs with a candelabra base in a closed glass dome. Need something brighter as this will be the only light source in the room. Having trouble finding small CFLs or LEDs with a candelabra base in 18W (equivalent 75W incandescent) or higher that will fit in the dome. Any ideas on where to find these kind of bulbs, or if they even exist? If not, any other ideas on how to keep the fan and to safely add some wattage?

The ceiling fan in question.

... and the smallest CFL lightbulbs in candelabra base with highest wattage we could find (but that are still too big for the dome) are the TCP 48918C 18-watt 2700-Kelvin Full Springlamp CFL Candelabra bulbs
posted by steve.wdc to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think Costco has bulbs like that, although I don't see them on their website.
posted by w0mbat at 9:50 PM on March 21, 2014

I'm assuming you're in the US, because one of your interest tags is Chicago, but if I'm wrong, I apologize.

We have been able to find CFL and LED bulbs in every size you can imagine at Lowe's. I don't know that the availability on their site matches what they have in a store; you may have to go to the store to get what you need.

Good luck!
posted by RogueTech at 4:37 AM on March 22, 2014

At first I thought you were just having trouble finding 23-watt candelabra base CFLs, but then I realized that you need to fit a dome over them as well. That may not be possible; the ballast and tube on a CFL have to be at least a certain size to do their job; roughly speaking, more tube means more light and more wattage requires a larger transformer in the ballast.

That 18-watter you link looks like it's built about as compactly as I've ever seen in a CFL bulb; I don't think anyone is making them that size in higher wattages. It may just not be possible given current technology, and even if it was there might not be that much extra light produced. More compact CFLs tend to be dimmer for the same wattage, because the more tightly-coiled tubes block some of their own light.

I don't think anybody is currently making small LED bulbs in 100-incandescent-watt equivalent at the moment; making huge and bright LEDs is still something we have a ways to go on (the technology is still maturing) and one of the main problems is heat dispersal. While LEDs don't make a lot of heat compared to incandescents or even CFLs, the larger ones do make more than enough to fry their own delicate electronics if that heat isn't managed properly. Since installing a cooling fan isn't really an option in a light bulb, that means passive sinking which puts some limits on how compact you can build them.

I looked into halogens too, but a 60w halogen bulb puts out less light than an 18w CFL. Their efficiency is somewhat better than traditional incandescents, but not enough better to help you here.

You may have to rethink your lighting situation.
posted by Scientist at 5:47 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Heat is an issue with LED bulbs. For an enclosed fixture like that you might need something like a Switch LQD LED bulb, which as far as I know won't fit your specifications.

Keep looking and good luck, but I suspect you're going to need to add another light source (or use a different ceiling fixture).
posted by J. Wilson at 9:02 AM on March 22, 2014

I'm going to warn you away from using CFLs in general, if you actually use the ceiling fan a lot. The vibrations from the fan can shorten the lifetime of the bulb. While there are specifically vibration-proofed CFLs, the chances of finding one that fits your size restrictions are low.
Try for LED?
posted by aimedwander at 11:18 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Enclosed fixtures can be hard on both CFL and LED bulbs, and it can be difficult to determine this by brand/model until after you get a few failures. I've started to see a few bulbs specifically have warnings on the packaging about enclosed fixtures and/or bulb orientation, but many still don't.

With ceiling fans, this has been an ongoing problem in my household. I've had fans in different price ranges that needed odd shaped bulb. I've ended up completely hacking the fixtures to accommodate my needs for light.

Yes, finding a ceiling fan that combines the ability to move enough air, provide for sufficient and energy efficient lighting, and look reasonably attractive has proven a very frustrating and costly experience. I've found cost does not seem to be an indicating factor in providing any of these qualities, including longevity, except maybe aesthetics. So, I've taken to mating various light fixtures to inexpensive but otherwise decent fans that aren't necessarily designed with each other in mind.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:26 PM on March 22, 2014

Since nobody else has mentioned this, have you thought about simplifying one of your conditions by adding a candelabra base adapter and using regular-base bulbs?

You will lose some height, but I suspect that you might find a wider range of sizes/shapes when you're not looking at something whose ass was designed to go into a chandelier.

Another option that hasn't been mentioned yet (but it might be time) is to return the fan, and spend some time looking at one that has a lighting space that is designed for adequate illumination.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 4:17 PM on March 23, 2014

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