Thursday, August 5, 2010

Save environment: repair compact fluorescent bulbs.

Instead of throwing compact fluorescent lamps into e-waste recycling right away, I kept them until I had 10, and then I made 3 working fluorescents out of 10 broken ones (then the stuff that cant be fixed goes into e-waste)... there's how:
1: Open all CFLs using wide screwdriver or butter knife or similar object to pry the ballast case open.
2: use ohm-meter to check resistance over nearby wire pairs from the lamp (no need to disconnect from ballast yet). If the resistance is around 10 ohm on both sides, then that means the lamp is alright but ballast is dead (check for bad solder joints or burnt out parts, you can fix bad solder joints, and it might work). If one or both sides measures infinite resistance, that means the lamp is dead but ballast may be alright (check it for bad solder joints and burnt out parts anyway). Try working ballasts with working bulbs. Nonworking bulbs and nonworking ballast should go to e-waste and be disposed of properly. It seems that any failure ends with both power transistors getting burnt out; I didn't encounter a possibility to fix a ballast using parts from another.

The economic inequality is very bad for environment. Think of all the resources wasted shipping those bulbs around. Think of all the resources wasted because consumers in the west can easily afford to buy fluorescents built together with ballast - a marginally more convenient choice - so that perfectly good ballast and perfectly good fluorescents end up in the e-waste. Think of all the resources wasted because it is commercially viable to assemble those lamp ballasts from low quality parts (due to low cost of assembly itself. This also goes for viability of just building lamp together with ballast). Think of all the pollution that is only possible because pollution, too, was outsourced to china.
Repairing CFLs like this doesn't even save me money because I am living in a "developed" country and jobs here pay far more per hour than in china where they make those lamps (By the way, all of the lamps that I looked inside were assembled by hand in first place. Kind of sad to see). I do it because it is good for environment and coz it is kind of fun to tinker with some electronics once in a while.

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