All About Fluorescent Lighting


Fluorescent lighting is one of the most popular examples of an artificial light source. It is commonly used to light large rooms or commercial spaces. Most offices, retail stores, commercial buildings and even some of the rooms in your home use this type of lighting.

Fluorescent bulbs come in a variety of shapes, including U-shaped and linear, and are available in single, double and 4-pin options. The compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are ever-popular and come in a variety of sizes and shapes to easily replace your old incandescent bulbs. From there, you can choose the bulb's color (which is based off of the temperature), including a warmer, yellow light, a cool, blue light, a neutral color and a color that resembles natural light. Fluorescent bulbs differ from incandescent mainly in how the light is created. In fluorescent bulbs, light happens due to an electrical current traveling through a charged gas.

There are a variety of advantages to using this type of lighting. Fluorescent lights use 20-40% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, making them an energy-efficient alternative (the CFLs mentioned above are reported to use 75% less energy than a regular incandescent bulb).  They are an easy and inexpensive way to help the environment and reduce your energy costs. Fluorescent bulbs also last longer, so they are a great investment and you will find yourself replacing them less often.

Due to their popularity, you can find fluorescent lights in a variety of sizes and styles, including contemporary fixtures for your living room or kitchen or large ceiling fixtures for your office. The bulbs are offered at a variety of retailers as well- even at drug stores and supermarkets.

A downside to fluorescent lights are that some of the bulbs are not compatible with certain fixtures in your home. It's important to look into this before purchasing your bulbs, since you may need to change the fixtures for them to work. The two common types of bulbs are a screw-in design or a pin-based design.

Another negative aspect is that fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, so you can't dispose them in the trash. Mercury can cause health, safety and environmental concerns, so it's important that you handle them and dispose of them properly and carefully. You have to follow safety precautions as well with this type of lighting, including making sure the ballast does not overheat or leak, being careful when a bulb breaks and taking into consideration the presence of possible PCBs in the bulbs.