How Do Fluorescent Light Bulbs Work?

Stock-Photo-CFLWe’re diving deep to teach you how different light sources produce light. This information can help you when you’re choosing lights for a new lighting project or maintaining the lights you already have. If you’ve ever tried researching this information, you know it can get overwhelming and complicated. So, I’m going to simplify it for you. In this post we’re covering fluorescent light bulbs

Fluorescent light bulbs come in a range of shapes and sizes like linear, circline, and the ever-popular swirl of the compact fluorescent.

Though the various kinds of fluorescent light bulbs look very different, the way they function is fundamentally the same.

Fluorescent light bulbs contain the following:

  • Mercury vapor
  • Electrodes, wired to an electrical circuit
  • A glass envelope with a white phosphor coating on the inside

Pretty simple, right? Now let’s look at how these elements work together to make light: 

1. When you turn on the lamp, electrical current flows through the electrodes. Electrons pass back and forth in the tube.

2. The electrons excite the mercury vapor in the tube, bumping the atoms’ electrons to higher levels. This causes the mercury to emit UV photons, or UV light, invisible to the human eye.

3. The phosphor coating converts UV light into visible light. This happens when a UV photon collides with a phosphor atom, bumping one of the phosphor electrons to a higher energy level, and heating up the atom. When the electron falls back to its normal level, it releases energy as a visible photon – the light you see.

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How To Light A Low Ceiling

Stock-Photo-Cove-LightingHave you ever watched someone go spelunking? The spelunkers almost always come to a place in the cave where they have to squeeze their bodies between two huge slabs of rock and you think, my god, they’ll be trapped! How in the world are they going to get all the way through that tiny opening, and with all that gear to boot? You imagine the hard, weighty rock pressing in all around as you watch their tight, treacherous journey onward. Will they escape, or be stuck forever?

Bottom line. If you have a room that makes you feel this same vague, claustrophobish discomfort, it’s not okay. So your space doesn’t have ceilings like the Sistine Chapel. You’d be surprised at how airy and dramatic the right lighting can make your room feel – even if it has an extra-low ceiling.

Here are some tips to help you light that low ceiling:

1. Embrace width.

Hallway

As a rule, the bottom of any hanging light should be at least 6’8″ off the ground – unless it’s over a table or island. When you have an 8′ ceiling, this doesn’t give you a whole lot of room to play. If you long for the grand impact of a decorative ceiling light, try a larger low-profile fixture that stays close to the ceiling, but holds some real estate up there. It’s dramatic without looking cluttered, and it will help you avoid the drama of a gash to the head.

2. Use more than one light.

Fluorescent Kitchen

A room with a single light fixture is depressing. Kick the shadows by adding multiple light sources. A few stylish flush-mount ceiling lights. Some table lamps. An accent light here or there. When you have multiple lights shining in different directions, the space will feel lighter and more open. Make sure to place ceiling lights at least 3′ from the wall, any closer and harsh shadows will make your ceiling seem lower.  (more…)

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Pegasus Lighting Roundup: Lighting in August

Get ready for a fast, wild, innovative, informative, and (yes) long lighting roundup this month, because the lighting industry has been BUSY. You’ll hardly believe your eyes at some of these new lighting inventions, displays, and successes – so allow us to enlighten you…

In Lighting News…

“Alfredo Moser: Bottle light inventor proud to be poor”

How do you light a house using recycled materials and zero electricity? Alfredo Moser, a mechanic in southern Brazil invented a new way to light his house during the day, using only plastic bottles filled with water and a few drops of bleach. By early next year, these bottles are expected to be in over 1 million homes. Read more.

Image via BBC.co.uk
Image via BBC.co.uk

“Superdome gets new lighting system”

Remember those 34 terrible minutes at this past Super Bowl, when half of the Superdome lost power? Well, the Superdome managers are determined never to drop the ball (ha) like that again, so they’re upgrading their aging electrical equipment with a new, state-of-the-art system. Get ready for stunning computer-programmed lighting scenes, and more. Read more.

“Researchers identify cause of LED efficiency droop”

When LED light bulbs are subjected to larger electrical currents, they can loose up to 20% of their efficiency. Nobody wants that. This “efficiency droop” first identified in 1999, has hindered the LED’s development and popularity. BUT, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have finally identified the mechanism behind this nuisance – a phenomena called “electron leakage.” Read more.

bigstock LED

“Obama White House finally getting solar PV panels”

The White House is going solar! After spending about 40 months getting all the right permits for this energy-efficient retrofit, American-made panels are finally coming to the roof of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Read more. (more…)

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Download Your Free Under Cabinet Lighting Guide Today!

Ebook Cover under cabinet lightingWhat could make your experience with under cabinet lights better?

That’s the question the experts at Pegasus Lighting have been asking for years. We’ve written numerous blog posts on the subject, created video guides, and hand-picked every under cabinet fixture on our website – always with quality, affordability, and ease of operation in mind. And yet, we wanted to do more.

That’s when we decided to write an eBook. A complete resource to guide you through every step of an under cabinet lighting project…

Today, the lighting experts at Pegasus have achieved that goal. It’s called “The Complete Guide To Under Cabinet Lighting,” and you can download it for free, in the format of your choice, right here on our website.

The book includes sections on how to pick out, install, and operate under cabinet lighting. I, along with Chris Johnson, answer some of your most pressing questions, including –

  • Why do I need under cabinet lights?
  • What kind of lights will work best for my needs, my space, and my tastes?
  • How many lights do I need?
  • How do I install my lights?
  • What should I expect from my lights over time?
  • And more! (more…)

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Good Lighting & Bright Lighting Are Not The Same Thing.

SconceWhen you think of a room with good lighting, what picture comes to mind? Does your room have skylights or giant windows? How about recessed cans or a constellation of pendants? What is the color temperature?

Bright, alone, doesn’t cut it.

There are a lot of different ways to light a room so it’s stylish and functional, comfortable and versatile. It just takes planning. Use these guidelines to get started:

  • Good lighting can change in a second. A well-lit room isn’t necessarily visible from space. You need different light levels for different tasks. Adjustable “layers” of different lights and dimmer switches will let you enjoy the room in more ways.
  • Good lighting embraces shadow. Large shadows along the walls and ceiling can turn a room into a dungeon. However, the right combination of light and shadow can help sculpt a room, giving it more character and atmosphere. Don’t be afraid of shadows that accentuate interesting textures or architecture in your space.
  • Good lighting isn’t distracting. Some lights shine right in your eyes. Some lights have ugly color temperatures. Some lights hum. Some lights heat up your whole room. When installing yours, make sure they’re not this obnoxious. (more…)

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What is IP Rating?

Tape Light Step LightsWhen you buy a new light fixture, you don’t want it to be a piece of junk. You want it to last for a long time, and hold up under the elements. You want to get your money’s worth.

But how can you figure this out before getting out your wallet? Shaking the box or tapping on the cover just won’t do.

You need to hear about IP rating.

IP, or Ingress Protection ratings are developed by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC). A fixture’s rating indicates how well its enclosure protects its electrical equipment from the environment. 

The IP rating usually includes two different numbers:

  • The first rates protection from solid objects and materials (like dust).
  • The second rates protection from liquids (like water).

These tables show what each rating indicates:

First IP Number – Protection Against Solid Objects

0 No special protection
1 Protected against solid objects up to 50 mm, e.g., accidental touch by person’s hands.
2 Protected against solid objects up to 12 mm, e.g., person’s fingers.
3 Protected against solid objects over 2.5 mm (tools and wires).
4 Protected against solid objects over 1 mm (tools, wires, and small wires).
5 Protected against dust limited ingress (no harmful deposit).
6 Totally protected against dust.

 

Second IP Number – Protection Against Liquids

0 No protection.
1 Protected against vertically falling drops of water, e.g., condensation.
2 Protected against direct sprays of water up to 15° from the vertical.
3 Protected against direct sprays of water up to 60° from the vertical.
4 Protected against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted.
5 Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions – limited ingress.
6 Protected against temporary flooding of water, e.g., for use on ship decks – limited ingress permitted.
7 Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 100 cm.
8 Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure.

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