What to Salvage From Energy Saver Light Bulb





Introduction: What to Salvage From Energy Saver Light Bulb

Stop throwing away those blown bulbs!

Salvage the electronic goodies inside!

You will be surprised how much electronic components are hiding in there.......

Step 1: Safety

You are working with glass, so proper safety gloves and eye ware must be worn!

1) Safety Glasses;
2) Safety Gloves;
3) Mouth and nose mask.

Firstly let me just say that some websites claim that their experts decided that these bulbs have dangerous amounts of mercury in them and the same amount of websites claim the opposite.......

So, that is the reason for the facial mask....you know.....just in case....

....wash your hands and exposed areas after you do this!

....Also.....I know I am not wearing gloves in the instructable, but like my dad used to say: "Do as I say and not as I do!"

Please excuse any spelling and grammar mistakes, as English is not my first language.


Step 2: Tools and Equipment

You will need the following tools and equipment:

1) Blown energy saver bulb;
2) Large flathead screwdriver;
3) Small side cutter.

Step 3: Open Up the Bulb

Photo 1 shows the "breathing holes" of this particular bulb.

My large flathead screwdriver fits in there nicely.

Insert the tip of the screwdriver as shown in photo 2.

Take care while holding the glass so that you don't break the glass that WILL cut you and also the possibility of merury inside the tubes....

With only the tip inserted, slowly turn you screwdriver as you would if you where unscrewing a screw.

The lip will open up and the plastic piece will break open as shown in photo 3. Repeat with the other holes.

Photo 4 and 5 reveals the hidden electronic components inside!!!

It is a lot.....did not expect to find this much in there.

Step 4: Cut the Wires

Photo 1 shows 2 wires that you must cut with you side cutter.

Cut them to get the result as shown in photo 2.

Photo 3 shows the 4 wires you must cut to get to the result as shown in photo 4 and 5.

Enjoy you free electronic components and give them new life by using them in other projects!

I hope you enjoyed this instructable and that I could help someone here.

7 People Made This Project!


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Wow. Opening one of them up really lets one see the amount of material and manufacturing that goes into one. Kinda makes me wonder if an old school hunk of glass with a piece of tungsten isn't overall more energy efficient.


The old school bulbs commonly go by their archaic 19th century name, "light bulbs", which is a misnomer. The light they produce is a minor by-product. The main form of energy they emit is heat. Lots of heat. They are correctly called "heat bulbs".

These components stuffed into the base of the CFL use hardly any energy at all.

It is also important to keep in mind that during the winter months when you are running a heater or furnace, old style bulbs indoors don't cost any more to run because that "waste heat" isn't wasted at all. It keeps your furnace from coming on as often. This is often left out of analyses inflating the negative impact of old style bulbs by a fairly large amount. I intentionally run old style bulbs indoors in the winter because there is no heat wasted at that time and the warmer light offsets the gray winter overcast skies. They also add the heat to the room and area you are actually occupying as that is where you have the lights turned on.

That "waste heat" is in fact wasteful because it is far more inefficient to create than the heater that is specifically designed to heat your home. The heat from your bulbs will also likely be negligible in the grand scheme of things because the heat transfer is also inefficient. At most the area a few inches around the bulb will be much hotter, with the surrounding area feeling little effect of the heat contained within the lampshade. While your ideas are neat, I think if you ran some actual heat transfer analysis and compared the total heat output of the bulb to that of the furnace, your implications would simply fall apart due to the relative efficiency and heat transfer of each.

I think you need to take a physics course. All "wasted" energy from an electrical device ends up as heat. If the heat isn't going into the room because of "poor heat transfer" as you state then the bulb would never stop heating up until it melted into a blob. If the heat from the bulbs were to be "negligible" as you state then they would be much more efficient and we wouldn't be having this conversation. There is no wiggle room on this. It is physics. You don't seem to realize that "inefficiency" and "waste heat" are one and the same in this case. Stick your finger on a 100W incandescent and tell me the heat transfer is "inefficient". Hold your hand over the bulb and feel the heat rising. Try the same with an LED. In fact, if all your curtains are shut, even the visible light from the bulb eventually ends up as heat inside the house as the photons bounce around imparting energy until all the energy becomes heat. This isn't a matter of opinion or different strokes. It just is.

Not all wasted electrical energy is heat. There is lots of wasted energy that doesn't transmit as heat at all. The poor heat transfer comes into play when heating the area you are in and not the immediate vicinity around the bulb. Air is a good insulator and without movement that heat will stay in the corner for a long time. Overall energy in the room is conserved but if it is all in one corner, then to you it will still not feel hot. As you say, go near the light and see how hot the air is there, but not 2 feet from it. Heat transfer from your hand to a bulb is irrelevant because there is an entirely different process of conduction going on and thermal conductivity of your hand is much higher than air.

Yes the bub gives off heat, but so does your heater. Your heater does not give off light. Your heater also does not have to stress a material to convert energy to light which then needs to be converted back into heat, all of which has loss. The heater also efficiently carries the heat around the house. The light bulb is creating very localized heat that takes a long time to disperse whereas the heater is heating the whole room. Try running your light bulbs with no heater at all and see how it works. It will probably be warm right next to the light and maybe even hot to the touch (depending on the ambient temp) but move a few feet away and you will be cold.

I have taken a physics course. I have taken multiple. I have a degree in engineering so thermodynamics and heat transfer are quite familiar to me. That said, in a perfect magical theory vacuum, yes your light would eventually heat the whole room to a boil if left on long enough. In the real world however, with imperfect insulation, imperfect energy conversion, and lossy light emittance, the bulbs are certainly not worth using when they cost 5 times the energy to run as newer bulbs. That energy is better spent running a more efficient heat generation source, like an in-home heater.

Basically, the bulb and the heater are pulling from the same energy well. One is specifically designed to efficiently generate and disperse heat, while the other isn't.

The bulb does not convert electricity to light then back into heat. The filament works just like a heater element and emits heat directly, and additionally light. I think you may be a troll.

"Heat transfer from your hand to a bulb is irrelevant because there is an entirely different process of conduction going on and thermal conductivity of your hand is much higher" wouldn't this be radiant heat and opposed to conductive? high school drop out with passion for learning here.

You wrote: "Not all wasted electrical energy is heat. There is lots of wasted energy that doesn't transmit as heat at all."

So what form does this non-heat wasted energy take? And where is it?

You may be somewhat educated but you really don't know what you are talking about. The filament in an incandescent is really about the same as the heater element in an electric heater but much smaller and with enough current flowing through the material for it to emit higher wavelengths of light that is visible rather than just low wavelengths as heat. Both are resistance heating elements. I never said it would boil the room, I said it would add heat to the room; heat that the furnace doesn't have to provide. And that the heat was the "waste", or "inefficiency" of the bulb. So what other forms of waste energy are emitting from the bulb? How do you measure them?

I'm muting this so I don't receive any more notifications because I know science is on my side. I'll leave you to figure it out on your own and I trust that any following this dialog between us can do their own research and determine who of us is correct. You might consider that you may be over-thinking this. Just maybe.

^ you are correct. "Youth is wasted on the young" Shaw. and this my friends is why it takes more than watching big bang show, or whining to make you smart.