Compact Fluorescent, Dimmable and Natural Bulbs

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Compact Fluorescent Bulb

A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is a florescent lamp that uses a curved tube to fit the space of an incandescent bulb, and has an electronic ballast at the base of the lamp.

Fluorescent light bulbs are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs because they use a different method to produce the light.  An incandescent bulb heats a filament inside of it to produce the light, wasting energy in the process, and a CFL bulb has a gas inside of it that produces an ultraviolet light when the gas is sparked with electricity.

To get an idea of the their efficiency, the following table compares the energy use (in watts) between CFL and incandescent lamps for a the same lighting capacity.


Incandescent Bulb Watts CFL Bulb Watts   
40 9
60 14
75 19
100 23

To determine how much money you can save by using CFL’s, use our lighting energy calculator.

CFL’s technology has evolved to allow the bulbs to be dimmable or produce what is called a natural light.  Whichever one you choose, make sure that you dispose of them properly through a recycling program.

Dimmable CFL Bulbs

Early CFL bulbs were not capable of dimming because they used magnetic ballasts.  New technology has made it possible with electronic ballasts that permit some of them to work with dimmers. Before you buy a dimming CFL, make sure  the lamp is capable of dimming the bulb, as not all CFL bulbs are dimmable.  You can either buy a lamp that works with a dimmer circuit, which has a smooth range of dimming from about 15% to 100%.  Or you can buy a stand-alone lamp that does not work with a dimmer circuit and dims the light in a series of steps.

Natural Light Bulbs

Natural light bulbs are fluorescent bulbs that have longer durability than most type of bulbs and have a blue coating that renders a full spectrum of brilliance.  They are ideal in places where you would like a bright, but clean light.  You can get natural light bulbs in either CFL bulbs or the more traditional 48-inch fluorescent bulbs.

Recycle Fluorescent Tubes

It is necessary to dispose of all fluorescent bulbs properly because they have a small amount of mercury, which is poisonous and quickly absorbed by human skin if the bulb is broken.  There are several places that will recycle your fluorescent tubes and CFL bulbs.  Check your local department and grocery stores.  Some universities and places like Home Depot will recycle them.  It’s a good idea to pack them in their original carton so they will not break if you still have it.

CFL bulbs are the type of bulbs you want to use in your home and office because they consume less energy and last longer than traditional bulbs.  Technology has allowed us to have options in choosing the type of CFL bulbs we want, making them a viable option for lighting applications.

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