The
Compact Fluorescent Bulb (CFL)



The Compact Fluorescent Bulb (CFL) is a relatively new method to light up buildings. Fluorescent lighting bulbs are not new though and were used to replace incandescent bulbs for years, mostly for lighting up offices, shopping malls, production facilities and other public buildings. Those earlier fluorescent bulbs have an elongated shape and they were installed in a different more complex way than the standard incandescent bulb. Their number one advantage is the enormous saving incurred by lighting up these buildings

The CFL bulb is an evolution of the elongated fluorescent bulb and it addresses a few limitations the elongated bulbs had:

  • It fits seamlessly into the incandescent socket
  • It comes in different light hues, to please the individual eye
  • Contrary to common belief, it is more environmental friendly even though traces of mercury can be found in the bulb

What are the advantages of the CFL bulb?

  • The CFL bulb consumes 65% to 75% less electrical power compared to a incandescent bulb with the same luminance
  • If you draw less current from the utility grid, the utility produces less power. Since most power plants burns coal or other fossil fuel, the less power produced – the less carbon dioxide and other pollutant are poured to the atmosphere. 20% of home electric bill is going to lighting. Just imagine, millions of homes convert to CFL bulbs and reduce the lighting bill to 10% of the total electric bill – what a dramatic effect on the environment
  • Even though the CFL bulb is more expensive to buy, its life expectancy is 8,000-10,000 hours, compared to 1,000 hours for the incandescent bulb. The life cycle cost is cheaper and the saving on energy bills outweigh the slightly higher initial cost

CFL Bulbs and Mercury

Yes, I expected you to ask about mercury. The compact fluorescent bulb contains mercury indeed. It contains around 4 milligram of mercury, some manufacturers dropped it down to 2 mg or less. However – mercury is contained in the bulb and not released to the atmosphere. Coal operated power plants release 5.8 milligram of mercury to the atmosphere in order to produce the energy that would have been consumed by the incandescent bulb over 8,000 hours of operation.

More Data on CFL bulbs

Some things to remember are:

  1. Incandescent bulbs will be banned starting 2012 in the US (a congress legislation
  2. install carefully and do not drop the bulb (and eventually break the glass)
  3. Always screw and unscrew the bulb holding its base (not the glass shell)
  4. Use only Energy Star labeled bulbs
  5. Be kind to the environment and dispose of old CFL bulbs in a recycling center. You can find a recycling center in any one of the Home Depot branches.
  6. click here to return to my energy saving page from the compact fluorescent page


    click here to view my home energy Home Page