Apr 122013

Stock Photo Dimmer The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Dimmability
and CFLs. To the untrained eye, they might just seem like comparable alternatives to the incandescent light bulb. But when you dive a little deeper, you’ll find that they’re very different. That’s just what we’re doing in this blog series – you can view the whole series here.

Dimming. In a world where customization is king and energy-saving is of ever-increasing importance, dimming lets you have both. Putting your lights on dimmers saves electricity, using 10% less power when you dim the lights just 10%. (And more if you dim them lower.) Dimmers also let you tailor the lighting scheme to whatever you’re doing.

But, are LEDs and CFLs any good at dimming? Turns out there’s a bit of a discrepancy… Continue reading »

Apr 082013

LED 300x269 The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Instant On
LEDs and CFLs are both popular energy-saving light bulbs. But, we consider CFLs the light source of the present and LEDs the light source of the future. In fact, we’ve devoted an entire blog series to explaining that concept, comparing everything from rated-lives, to how each light holds up in cold weather…

They say the good things in life are worth waiting for. But, that’s not the case when it comes to your light bulbs’ start time. When you flip a light switch, you want immediate results. If you’ve been using incandescent lights all these years, you’re probably used to that luxury.

So, you might not expect a CFL  (a light bulb more technologically advanced than an incandescent) to take longer to reach its complete light output. CFLs, even the best CFLs, can take anywhere from 1 to 60 seconds to reach their full brightness.

Why do CFLs have this delayed start?

Well, an incandescent light bulb produces light when an electrical current flows through its filament. The filament heats up and glows. CFLs, on the other hand, use a more complex system to produce light. Cathodes within the lamp heat up to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit and pass electrodes from one end of the lamp to another. This excites the mercury vapor inside the lamp, creating UV light. The UV light must then pass through the white coating on the inside of the glass envelope to produce visible light.

So, what about LEDs? Do they have a delayed start? Continue reading »

Apr 012013

LED Hanging The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: On/Off Cycling
Here’s another post in our series about the differences between LEDs and CFLs. So far we’ve covered everything from efficiency to safety. Click here to see the whole series.

Turns out, if you use CFLs and LEDs in the exact same way, they’ll react differently. Sometimes, the results can be damaging.

It’s a common myth that turning your fluorescent lights on and off frequently will increase your energy bill. While CFLs do use more energy to start up, it’s only equivalent to lighting the same lamp for a few extra seconds.

What you’ll need to watch out for is the price of replacing that CFL.

The rated life of a CFL, like all fluorescent lamps, can be dramatically reduced if the lamp is cycled on and off frequently.

The rated lives of LEDs, on the other hand, aren’t affected if you turn the lights on and off on a regular basis.   Continue reading »

Mar 292013

Kozzi snow machine trail 294x442 200x300 The Difference Between CFLs and LEDs: Low Temperature Tolerance
This post is part of a series written to help you understand the differences between the popular CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) and the newest kind of light bulb: the LED (light emitting diode). You can browse the entire series here.

Depending on where you plan to use your light bulb, you may need to consider how it will react to the space’s temperature.

For a chilly area, like outdoors in a cool climate or inside a refrigerator/freezer, an LED will work best for you.

LEDs love cold environments. In fact, using them in places with cooler temperatures may even make them last longer – beyond their standard rated lives. 

CFLs, on the other hand, require a lot of heat to initially turn on. When you operate them in below-freezing temperatures, you’ll have a hard time even getting them to start up.

So why do LEDs thrive in cooler temperatures? Continue reading »

Mar 262013

Clock The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Rated Life
This post is the third in a series focused on identifying important differences between light emitting diodes (LEDs), the light source of the future, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), the light source of the present. To check out the rest of the series, click here

When deciding which light source to choose, one of the most important factors you should consider is how long the light will last.

A longer-lasting light bulb means you won’t have to spend as much money on replacement light bulbs, and you won’t have to waste time and energy on maintenance and upkeep.

In general, LEDs last about 10 times as long as CFLs. An LED’s rated life can vary between 25,000 and 60,000 hours. The rated life of most CFLs varies between 6,000 and 15,000 hours. Continue reading »

Mar 182013

Mercury The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Mercury

Image via PeriodicTable.com

This post is the second in a series on important differences between LEDs and CFLs, two of the most popular energy-saving light sources on the market today. You can read the first post about efficiency here.

Mercury is a toxic substance that can attack the brains and nervous systems of humans. CFLs (and all fluorescent lights) contain small amounts of mercury, LEDs do not. In the long run, this makes the LED a much safer, low maintenance light source.

Why do CFLs contain mercury? 

The mercury, when excited by an electric current, helps the CFL generate light. This small amount of mercury, barely enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen, poses no threat to your health as long as it remains contained within the light bulb’s glass envelope. You only need to worry about it if the light bulb should break.

To safely deal with your CFLs, take them to an EPA approved recycling center. You can learn more about the importance of recycling CFLs in this blog post: Don’t Toss That CFL In The Trash.

What to do if your CFL breaks…

If you wind up with a broken CFL in your home, follow these steps for safe cleanup and disposal: Continue reading »

Mar 112013

LED Better 300x199 The Difference Between LEDs and CFLs: Efficiency
This is the first post in a brand new series about the key differences between compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), the light source of the present, and light emitting diodes (LEDs), the light source of the future. We’ll touch on things like structure, function, and quality, so you can keep up with all the innovations currently happening in the lighting world…

One of the most obvious differences between LED light bulbs and CFLs is energy-efficiency. Yes, we consider both sources to be energy-saving, and both fall well within new government efficiency standards, but it’s a simple fact that LEDs use less power to generate more light.

We measure the efficiency of a light source (sometimes called efficacy) in lumens per watt (lm/W). If you’re unfamiliar with this measurement, we’re just talking about the amount of light produced by one unit of electrical power – similar to miles per gallon for a car.

In general, a good LED on the market today can produce 60-100+ lm/W, which is about twice as many as a CFL, which only produces about 30-50 lm/W. Continue reading »

Sep 202012

CFL CFLs and UV Rays: Is There Really A Problem?
In August’s Lighting Roundup, we mentioned a study on the UV rays emitted from CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) possibly causing skin damage. But, with this popular spiral-shaped energy-saving light bulb now in over 70% of U.S. homes, we think it’s important to investigate further into this issue.

According to this article from Lighting.com, NEMA (The National Electrical Manufacturers Association) has clarified the confusion surrounding CFLs and possibly dangerous UV radiation.

Like all fluorescent lights, CFLs do give off trace amounts of UV and infrared radiation, but those levels are well within the acceptable range predetermined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA).

Unless the person exposed to UV rays has a predetermined sensitivity to them, or if that person uses a CFL at an unnaturally close distance (less than 1 foot), there shouldn’t be a problem.

Plus, the plastic, glass, and fabrics of many household light fixtures also serve to reduce the already low levels of UV radiation. Some CFLs even have covers that reduce emissions even further than standard exposed-spiral lamps alone.

So, unless your CFL is severely malfunctioning (which is rare indeed) you needn’t worry.

For more information about how to properly care for and use CFLs, check out this blog post, or visit the US Food and Drug Administration’s website.

 Posted by on September 20, 2012 at 10:25 am
Sep 072012

Fluorescent Lamp T8 How To Cope When Your Favorite Light Bulb Gets The Shaft: Fluorescent Light Bulbs
This is the third installment of a three-part series on replacing EISA phased-out light bulbs – what’s leaving and why. You can read the first post on household A lamps here, and the second on reflector lamps here.  

Discontinued Fluorescents

T12 fluorescent light bulbs have been around since the ’30s, and in light bulb years, that’s just too plain old. Technology’s potential for efficiency, for saving you time and money, has moved light-years since then. That’s why the T12 phase-out began in July this year. This phase-out affected nearly all T12s, with the exception of the cold temperature lamps and a few others. Most T12s now have gone the way of typewriters and VCRs, cassette tapes and rotary phones – delightful relics, but come on people, we’re better than this.

We’ve also listed one T8 lamp with the group. While T8s are much newer, and most are much more efficient than T12s, the lamps listed are the oldest and most basic of their kind. They have the least lumens and the shortest lives of all the T8s, so while they’re cheap, they’re simply not a good value.

Here’s how to update:


Date Discontinued

Good Replacements

Great Replacements

Slimline F96T12 60W

July 14, 2012

800 Series Slimline F96T8 59W

Coming Soon

High Output F96T12

July 14, 2012

800 Series High Output F96T8 86W

Coming Soon

Rapid Start F34T12

July 14, 2012

800 Series T8 32W

800 Series Energy Saving T8 25W and 28W

U-Bend FB34T12

July 14, 2012

800 Series U-Bend T8

800 Series Energy Savings U-Bend T8 25W

700 Series T8 32W


800 Series T8 32W

800 Series Energy Saving T8 25W and 28W

Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am
Jun 112012

Fluorescent Light Bulb 226x300 The Colorful History of Fluorescent LightsWhen you think of fluorescent light, what first comes to mind? Some might think of hideous, headache-provoking office lights. Others might conjure up images of neon signs à la Vegas. For Galileo in 1612, upon witnessing fluorescence in nature, it was motherhood. He wrote:

“It must be explained how it happens that the light is conceived into the stone, and is given back after some time, as in childbirth.”

Whatever impressions you might have about fluorescent lighting, we think it’s time to set the record straight. Fluorescents have had a colorful, quirky, and sometimes uncomfortable past, but they certainly have a bright future.

Conception: 1850s

Heinrich Geissler, a German glassblower and physicist, created his famous Geissler Tubes during this time. Geissler filled the tubes with different gases to be excited by metal electrodes at each end. They came in many intricate shapes and bright colors and were used as art for their very brief lives. Today they are considered the early ancestors of both fluorescent and neon lights. Continue reading »