Compact fluorescent light bulbs

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A compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) is a fluorescent light bulb that has been compressed into the size of a standard-issue incandescent light bulb.

Introduced in the mid 1990s, CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) are one of the easiest ways to save energy in the household. CFL's are mostly compatible with lamps originally designed to hold standard incandescent light bulbs. CFLs emit the same amount of visible light as incandescent bulbs, but use a fraction of the energy and have longer lifespan.

Contents

Why should I be aware of this?

  • Modern CFLs typically last at least six times as long and use quarter of the power of an equivalent incandescent bulb.
  • CFL bulb saves 2000 times its own weight in greenhouse gases.
  • Though, the purchase price of a CFL is higher than that of an incandescent lamp of the same luminous output, this cost gets recovered in energy savings and replacement costs over the bulb's lifetime.
  • Compact fluorescent lamps are popular as a device to combat global warming.
  • CFL bulbs can pose a risk of mercury poisoning in the event of breakage or wrongful disposal.
  • Mercury is not emitted when CFL bulbs produce light.
  • Avoid using CFL bulbs over carpeted surfaces.

All about compact fluorescent light bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs use electricity to excite gas within a glass tube. The gas fluoresces, producing ultraviolet light which the human eye cannot see. This UV light then reacts with mercury and a phosphorescent chemical compound inside the tube to create visible light. CFL are compatible with lamps originally designed to hold standard incandescent light bulbs.

Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain mercury. CFL bulbs use about 1 percent of the amount of mercury found in old thermometers.

Mercury is needed for the lamps to produce light, and there are no known substitutes. No mercury is emitted when compact fluorescents are burned, but a small amount is vaporized when they break, which can happen if people screw them in holding the glass instead of the base or drop them.

Useful tips

  • While replacing incandescent bulbs or installing new CFL bulbs, use the comparative chart below to decide what wattage of CFL bulb to purchase. For example a 15 watt CFL bulb emits light which is as strong and bright as that emitted by a 60 watt bulb.
    • 15W CFL = 60W regular bulb
    • 20W CFL = 75W regular
    • 29W CFL = 100W regular
    • 40W CFL = 150W regular
    • 55W CFL = 250-300W regular
  • Many brands of compact fluorescent bulbs take a moment to warm up and are not at full brightness when they first come on.
  • Fully-enclosed light fixtures (like recessed pot lights) are not the best place to use CFLs. Though compact fluorescents are much cooler than incandescent bulbs, they are also much less tolerant of hot conditions.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs and environment

CFL bulbs are one step forward towards green power. Since CFL bulbs do not use heat as the lighting mechanism, less energy is spent to create an equivalent amount of light. On average, a CFL uses two-thirds less energy than an incandescent light bulb. They are more expensive, but since they last 10 times longer, CFLs are actually the most economical choice.

According to the federal government, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star approved compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), the United States would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.

However CFL bulbs can pose a small risk of mercury poisoning to infants, young children, and pregnant women if they break.

Compact Fluorescent light bulbs and health

Breaking a CFL can cause serious health risks. CFL bulbs contain mercury which is especially hazardous for small children and pregnant women. If a CFL bulb breaks over carpeted surfaces, it could contaminate the carpet, making it necessary to either completely remove the carpet or if possible portions of the carpet to eliminate health hazards.

90 degrees -- What we do not know yet

Medical charities say they have been swamped with complaints that the flicker of compact fluorescent bulbs can trigger migraines and epilepsy attacks. Researchers say the light emitted by fluorescent bulbs is made up of a disproportionate amount of red and blue, which can cause the problems.[1]

What can I do?

Where to use Bulbs

  • To maximise energy savings, replace bulbs where lights are on the most, such as the family and living rooms, kitchen, dining room and porch.
  • Install them in hard to reach fixtures, like ceiling fans.
  • Make sure the CFL matches the right fixture by reading any restrictions on the package. Some CFLs work with dimmers, others are specially made for recessed or enclosed fixtures.

How to Choose the Right Light

Matching the right CFL to the right kind of fixture helps ensure that it will perform properly and last a long time.

For example:

  • CFLs perform best in open fixtures that allow airflow, such as table and floor lamps, wall sconces, pendants, and outdoor fixtures.

F*or recessed fixtures, it is better to use a reflector CFL than a spiral CFL since the design of the reflector evenly distributes the light down to your task area.

  • If a light fixture is connected to a dimmer or three-way socket fixture, you’ll need to use a special Energy Star qualified CFL designed to work in these applications. Make sure to look for CFLs that specify use with dimmers or three-way fixtures.

Unlearn

  • It is thought that CFLs have a harsh, cold light quality. Over the past few years, manufacturers have worked to provide a warmer color. For a warmer, white light, look for a color temperature of 2,700–3,000K on the package.
  • There is a belief that CFLs should not be used in bathrooms. CFLs can work in bathrooms, but humidity may shorten the bulb's life.
  • It is a widespread belief that CFLs can't be used in older houses. In fact, CFLs may work better than incandescent bulbs in houses with older wiring; CFLs generate less heat and draw less electrical current.


References

  • Are Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Good for the Environment?
  • CFL Bulbs Have One Hitch: Toxic Mercury
  • Mercury leaks found as new bulbs break:The Boston Globe
  • Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
  • CFL Bulbs may be Hazardous to your Health
  • CFL
  • Compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL)

See Also

Source

  1. Lights go out as Britain bids farewell to the traditional bulb despite health fears about eco-bulbs:Mail UK