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Four CFL Lighting Terms to Add to Your Arsenal

Four CFL Lighting Terms to Add to Your Arsenal

Let’s be honest, we’ve had quite a few things to say about compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and what makes them different from other light sources, such as traditional incandescents or newer light emitting diodes (LEDs).  CFLs, for example, take around 30 seconds to attain full brightness because they use a phosphorescent coating paired with ultraviolet radiation to generate light. As far as rated life hours, they last between 8,000-15,000 hours. While CFLs don’t last quite as long as LEDs, they do last longer than   incandescents.  Regardless, whether you’re shopping for one of these bulbs or you’re just interested in being the light of the party, here are a few CFL terms to add to your collection.

Electronic Ballast

All CFL light bulbs utilize a ballast to operate properly. The type of ballast you would typically find in a CFL lamp is an electronic ballast. Internally encapsulated in the base of the bulb, electronic ballasts are the circuit system that securely carry the sufficient amount of current to the lamp by modifying voltage.  In comparison, most fluorescent tubes use external ballasts.

Efficacy

Technically efficacy is not a term specific to CFLs. It actually describes the transfer of light output from the electrical power it is using. Efficacy for lights is measured in lumens per watt (LPW). You could look at this term as the grade given to the ratio of light used to power a lamp. Based on efficacy, we can determine how efficiently visible light is emitted by a lamp using electricity. You could calculate the lighting system efficacy of a bulb by dividing its system lumen output by the input wattage. The common efficacy for standard CFL bulbs is 50-70 LPW.

Mercury

Usually, when thinking of mercury the thing that probably comes to mind is the silver liquid enclosed in a glass thermometer, or the stuff that’s recently given tuna fish a bad name. You will also find this element in CFL lamps. Mercury is not released during light emission or as long as the bulbs are not broken. Though the lamps only contain a trace amount of mercury, about 4 milligrams, you should be careful when disposing of large volumes of CFLs.  This is due to the potential hazardous effects mercury could have on you and the environment. One way to ensure safety when disposing CFLs is recycling. Be sure to read any special instructions that come with your lights.

Phosphor

A phosphor is a solid material or substance that creates light or luminescence, which is when light is produced without a heating source such as electricity. This compound can be found in CFLs and works by changing the UV rays found in CFLs into the visible light emitted by the bulb. As the phosphor compound collides with the UV rays they begin to illuminate. Fluorescence occurs, which is a type of luminescence. Through the fusion of phosphor and UV rays, the color of the fluorescence is established.

Hopefully these terms have shed a little extra light on CFLs. Can you think of any additional terms to add to the list? Feel free to leave us a comment in the section below or pop over to chat with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Instagram!

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