Compact Fluorescent Bulbs have become a popular lighting alternative for many homes and businesses. They are compatible with most appliances that use conventional incandescent bulbs, are efficient, and best of all they are great money-savers.
Just in case you’re wondering how a fluorescent bulb works, here’s a brief explanation. The fluorescent bulb has three main components.
- Electrons flowing between two electrodes
- Mercury gas
- Phosphorus coating on the inside of the bulb
The mercury atoms are excited as the electrons flow from one electrode to another. When the mercury atoms return to the normal, non-excited state, they release ultraviolet photons. When the photons hit the phosphorus coating, the phosphorus fluoresces (produces light).
Ok, so that’s a science lesson. The bottom line here is that fluorescent bulbs use much less energy than “normal” bulbs (incandescent) to produce the same amount of light. This leads to a common point of confusion, fluorescent bulb wattage.
When buying compact fluorescent bulbs, it’s best to buy those that are rated one-third of what you normally use. For example:
- 25-watt incandescent = 7-watt compact fluorescent
- 40-watt incandescent = 11-watt compact fluorescent
- 60-watt incandescent = 15-watt compact fluorescent
- 75-watt incandescent = 18-watt compact fluorescent
In addition to the obvious money-saving advantage of using less energy, compact fluorescent bulbs have one other huge advantage. These bulbs tend to last ten times longer (we’re talking years). This means that compact fluorescent bulbs save money in that you rarely have to replace them. Most sources report that each compact fluorescent bulb can save $30 – $40 over the life of the bulb.
Please note that before you purchase compact fluorescent bulbs for outdoor use, be certain that you research which bulbs can be safely used outside.