Why do compact fluorescent lights cost more?
The price of high quality compact fluorescent lights has decreased recently. Part of the price relates to the costs of compact fluorescent technology. Remember that the compact fluorescent light has a built-in micro size ballast. This makes the lamp cost more than regular light bulbs.
Can I really save energy and save money on my electric bill?
Yes. Compare a 15 watt compact fluorescent light with a 60 watt incandescent bulb. A compact florescent bulb cost $17.00 and lasts for 10,000 hrs. A regular incandescent bulb costs $2.50 and last for about 1,000 hrs. You would have to replace the regular incandescent bulb 10 times at a cost of 25.00 to equal a compact florescent light. The savings here would be $8. The energy savings between the two is about $1.50 a month. A compact florescent light costs .50 cents a month and a regular incandescent bulb costs about $2.00 a month (with normal use).
By using a compact fluorescent light, the savings is $30.50 over the life of the bulb for this example.
Why do fluorescent bulbs and CFLs contain mercury and is it dangerous?
All fluorescent bulbs contain small amounts of mercury that is energized by the lamp and in turn causes the phosphors inside the lamp to glow and create visible light. The amount of mercury in a CFL's glass tubing is very small and would fit on the tip of a ball point pen or about 1/750th of that found in an older household thermostat. Inexpensive CFL bulbs, like those found in home improvement and discount stores, contain mercury in elemental form or as mercury vapor which pose a risk of the mercury being released if the bulb is broken. All BlueMax™ CFLs are made with special amalgam technology where the mercury content is held within the amalgam fill of the bulb and will not "spill out". This amalgam fill/alloy structure is the same as is used in dentistry for tooth fillings.
BlueMax™ CFLs actually present an opportunity to prevent mercury from entering our air, where it most affects our health. The largest source of mercury in our air comes from the burning of coal to produce electricity. A CFL uses 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb and lasts up to 10 times longer. A power plant will emit 10mg of mercury to produce the electricity to run an incandescent bulb compared to only 2.4mg of mercury to run a CFL over a period of 5 years.
For additional information please see the EPA fact sheet on CFLs.
Why aren't compact fluorescent lights as small as regular incandescent bulbs?
A compact fluorescent light includes a lamp and a ballast or transformer. The incandescent bulb has no ballast. While compact fluorescent lights have been larger than their incandescent equivalent bulbs, the newest lights are less than one half inch larger than the equivalent 60 watt incandescent bulb. The new spiral compact fluorescent light by ParaLite will fit most fixtures, but it is wise to measure each fixture before ordering.
Where should I use my compact fluorescent lights?
As you can see by the energy savings and longevity of the CFL, anywhere the lamp will fit is a good place to use them. However, the best places for compact fluorescent lights are in frequently used fixtures that are on for at least three hours at a time. Difficult to reach fixtures are also good places to put compact fluorescent lights because you will have to change them less often.
Where are some places that compact fluorescent lights should NOT be used?
Because of electronic interference, compact fluorescent lights can not be used on dimmers. Doing so will shorten the life of the bulbs. They also should not be used in recessed or fully enclosed fixtures.
Can I use compact fluorescent lights in three-way lamps?
There is no danger in doing this, but you will get light only in the middle one of the three "on" positions.
Will compact fluorescent lights work where it's cold? Where it's hot?
Always check the light package for exact recommendations, but generally, compact fluorescent lights can be used in the 20°F-140°F range. Many new products like ParaLite lamps will start at temperatures to -20°F, though the light output may be somewhat reduced at very low temperatures. When compact fluorescent lights operate at temperatures above 140°F, there may be reduced light output and premature ballast failure.
Will they work where it's damp?
Do not install compact fluorescent lights where they will be exposed to water or snow directly. You can install compact fluorescent lights in sheltered exterior places. Some compact fluorescent lights have ventilation holes to keep them cool. Do not install that type of compact fluorescent light where moisture or water can get in the holes.
How long will compact fluorescent lights last?
That depends on what type of compact fluorescent lights you purchase. ParaLite one-piece units should last up to 10,000 hours. ParaLite CFL's are guaranteed for one year.
How do you arrive at the hour ratings for your bulbs?
All electric lights have a published rating for expected life. This rating is in the hundreds of hours for many incandescent lights, and in the thousands of hours for our fluorescents. Fluorescent lights have a life rating based on how many hours they are left on every time they are turned on. This is usually referred to as "burn time", and for fluorescent lights the burn time is three hours.
Every time a fluorescent light is turned on, a tiny amount of the coating on the electrodes is burned off. Eventually, enough coating is burned off, and the lamp fails to start. Longer burns extend lamp life. If you "burn" your fluorescent lamps shorter than 3 hours per start, you use up your potential starts faster and the bulb will last a shorter time period than the published rating. If you "burn" them longer than 3 hours per start, you use up your starts more slowly and your lamp will last longer than the stated hours. However, you are paying energy costs for the operating time of the lamps, and the most efficient lamp is the one that is not on when it is not needed.
There is a point where the amount of money you save from turning off the light exceeds the cost of reducing lamp life by more frequent starts. If you pay $0.05 KWh, the time is about 15 to 20 minutes for that point. As energy rates go higher, that time becomes shorter. If you pay less than a nickel per kilowatt hour, your turning-off point would be longer.
Return to Compact Fluorescent