Compact fluorescent’s (CFLs), along with LED lights, are revolutionizing the way the world lights its houses. Compact fluorescent’s are quickly replacing the energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs uplighters that many countries are phasing out CFLs cost more than incandescent bulbs, but they end up saving you money in the long run, because they draw a lot less power and last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs.
Incandescent bulbs are only rated to last for 750-1,000 hours of use, while CFLs are rated at 6,000-15,000 hours. And CFLs deliver 3-4 times as much light as incandescent for the same amount of power.
CFLs are also starting to displace the old-style, bulky fluorescent fixtures. CFL bulbs are smaller than fluorescent tubes and can screw right into the same light fixtures you’ve been using for incandescent bulbs.
CFLs, however, do have their limitations; so before you run off and buy any, there are some things you should know about them.
Like regular fluorescent tubes, CFL bulbs will burn out a lot faster if you turn them on and off a lot. You should limit their use to applications where they’ll be on for at least twenty minutes, and preferably much longer.
If you want to use a CFL with a dimmer or a 3-way switch, you’ll need to get special, more expensive CFL bulbs. And, most likely, you’ll need special dimmer or 3-way switches; consult your electrical dealer on that.
There are quite a few types of CFL bulbs, each suited to a different need and situation. Take care to get the right one, or it might either not deliver the light you want or it might burn out rapidly.
Certain CFLs put out security lights that is far superior to the light from an incandescent. Regular incandescent deliver a ghostly, warm light at the lower end of the colour temperature scale (2700-3000 K), but CFLs can deliver a crisp, cool-coloured light (5000-7000 K) that approaches the quality of natural daylight. But if you prefer the warm colour of incandescent bulbs for certain applications, you can buy the spiral type of CFL bulb, which approximates the light spectrum of incandescent bulbs.
Fluorescent’s have a deserved reputation for flickering, but that’s because most of them have been, up until now, equipped with magnetic ballasts. Many of the new CFLs come with electronic ballasts, which don’t flicker (though they cost more).
Types of Bulbs
Spiral CFL bulbs give off a warm-spectrum light. Some people like to use these bulbs for subdued mood lighting; spirals are even more energy-efficient than most other types of CFLs.
Standard spiral bulbs (so-called because they resemble standard incandescent bulbs) are covered by a dome. Their light is similar to that of “soft white” incandescent bulbs.
Triple tube bulbs are small, but they give off as much light as a much bigger energy saving bulbs.
Globe CFLs look somewhat like incandescent. They spread their heat out, so they’re better for hot places than regular CFLs, which can falter under high heat.
Flood CFLs deliver a soft, diffused, white light that is nice for reading, and they generate less heat that incandescent or halogen flood lights.
Candelabra bulbs are torpedo-shaped and are made for small light fixtures.