Compact fluorescent lights or CFL are an energy efficient alternative to the traditional incandescent bulbs. The benefits of CFL bulbs have been grabbing headlines for the last few years, especially due to their energy saving features. Replacing an incandescent 60 watt bulb with a 13 watt CFL bulb can actually save a single home $30 in energy costs, in addition to the extended life of the bulb. The best part is that CFLs can provide the right kind of lighting in any setting.
CFLs come in a variety of shapes, designs and styles for diverse home fixtures, from dimmer switches to 3-way lamps. They are also available for both outdoor and indoor use. Compact fluorescent light bulb designs include twisted, A-line, and globe bulbs among others. Twister bulbs or spiral bulbs are excellent as they provide uniform light distribution and are perfect for light fixtures that conceal the bulb behind a covering or shade. Twist designs also include both standard twist and mini-twist light bulbs.
Additionally, compact fluorescent light bulbs are available in different types and sizes of bulb base, which are categorized as candelabra, intermediate, medium and GU24. Candelabra CFL base bulbs usually have a screw-in base, but they have a smaller footprint than a typical base. Mostly they are used in enhancing ceiling fan fixtures, wall sconces and chandeliers. On the other hand, CFL GU24 bulbs comprise two spikes protruding from the base rather than the standard screw-in base. The spikes are slotted in matching holes in the socket of the fixture and then twisted to lock the bulb into place.
There are two basic kinds of Compact fluorescent light bulbs namely the integrated and non-integrated bulbs. Integrated bulbs combine the ballast and tube in one unit, while the non-integrated CFLs have the ballast installed permanently in the luminaries, and only the bulb is regularly changed at the end of its life.
Both types have great color rendition and are available in a wide variety of colors ranging from a 2700 Kelvin color temperature (warm color) to Daylight CFL bulbs that produce an incredibly white daylight-like light. There are also colored compact fluorescent light Bulbs, which are commonly available in pink and yellow color. CFLs with greater color temperature produce a bluer glow, like traditional fluorescent lights. It is usually best to use CFL bulbs with the same Kelvin number in one room in order to maintain steady light quality.
Generally, a CFL lamp uses approximately 75% less power than a traditional bulb. They are designed in a way to lose very little energy to heat, meaning that they consume much less electricity than an incandescent bulb. Compared to a conventional bulb producing the same light output, CFL bulbs use two-thirds less electric power and last much longer. The best in market have a lifespan of 10,000 hours and produce less heat, saving on cooling costs. However, the actual bulb life for a CFL bulb varies depending on the usage. For instance, switching CFL bulbs on and off frequently can really shorten the bulb life.
Wattage also varies greatly between traditional light bulbs and CFL bulbs. These bulbs typically utilize about a quarter of the wattage utilized by traditional bulbs to emit the same amount of light. Thus, a compact fluorescent light bulb that is around 15 watts can be used to replace a standard 60W bulb. Dimmable models of CFLs with standard bases are also available. They are designed to work with fixtures that are wired to a dimmer switch and they usually dim down to around 20% of the total light output.
Owing to the energy efficient features, versatility and longer lifespan, CFL bulbs encompass a wide range of applications in homes, offices, hotels, shops and boutiques. Soft pink colored CFL bulbs can be used in restrooms and restaurants since they produce a pleasant color that enhances the appearance of objects in a room. Also, a CFL bulb emitting yellow light is hard for flying insects to notice and hence it is suitable for use in gatherings. The only factual drawback of using CFL bulbs is that they contain around 5mg of mercury, which may pose severe health hazards after disposal. These bulbs should therefore be disposed of at a local recycling station.
With all of the features and options offered by CFL bulbs, saving money and energy and protecting the environment is much easier and in this case, it would probably be wise to consider these bulbs as an alternative energy efficient lighting solution.