Benefits of Using Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Efficiency and Savings
Electric lighting consumes up to 25% of the average home energy budget. CFL bulbs use about 50-80% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs making them an efficient way to replace old bulbs and start saving money on your power bill. Although initially more expensive, you save money in the long run because these energy-saving light bulbs use 1/3 the energy and last up to 10 times as long as incandescence. A 22 Watt CFL has about the same light output as a 100 Watt incandescent. At 8 cents per kWh, a single 18 Watt CFL used in place of a 75 Watt incandescent will save about $45.
By replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL you can keep a half-ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb. If everyone in the U.S. used energy-efficient lighting, we could retire 90 average size power plants.
Unlike older generation CFL bulbs that just emit a cool almost blue color light, newer compact fluorescent light bulbs are capable of a much wider range of color temperatures. They use rare earth phosphors for excellent color and warmth. Color temperatures vary from warmer whites designed to resemble incandescence and halogens to cooler whites well suited for task and office lighting. You can even find 6500K bulbs that can be used as grow light bulbs. Plus, thanks to new electronic ballasts, CFLs don’t flicker or hum like they used to.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs can be used nearly anywhere that incandescent lamps and halogen flood lights are used. Most CFLs are non-dimmable, but dimmable CFLs are also available for lights using a dimmer.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Fluorescent Bulbs with Photo Cells or Timers
Fluorescent lamps are not recommended for use with photo cells or timers. Pairing the bulbs with a photo cell or timer could shorten the life of the lights significantly because most of these electrical devices are not compatible with fluorescence. Most photo cells supply a small amount of power as the sun starts to set and only provides full power at full dark.
A fluorescent ballast requires full power at startup which is what causes the fluorescence to fail early when on these systems. There is also the issue that photo cells and timers are typically used with outdoor lighting which fluorescent lights are not well suited for due to cold temperatures having a negative effect on the light source’s warm up time and light output. If the lights are used indoors and paired with a compatible device, they should function well as long as they are not subjected to frequent on/off cycles.