Standard Lamps These are spiral lamps with a dome cover. They are designed to give the appearance of the traditional light bulb
for consumers looking for the more familiar light bulb appearance. The glass diffuser provides a quality of light similar
to the 'soft-white' type of incandescent bulbs.
Globe Lamps This shape is commonly used in bathroom vanity mirrors or open hanging lamps, and bare
bulb applications. Bathroom vanities usually require multiple bulbs, which generate radiant heat. The CFL globe will reduce
this heat buildup while saving energy. The glass diffuser provides a soft-white light.
Flood Lamps These lamps are designed to be ideal for recessed and track lighting
fixtures, indoors and outdoors. They provide diffused, soft, white light, and generate less heat than will an incandescent
flood or a halogen bulb.
Candelabra The screw-in torpedo-shape and the small-base of this bulb is designed for smaller light fixtures throughout
the house, from chandeliers to sconces. To use a smaller candelabra-based bulb in a regular socket, you can use a socket reducer.
Limitations of CFL lightbulbs Although CFLs are
an excellent source of energy-efficient lighting, they are not always the best choice for all lighting applications. Here
are a few limitations to consider:
On/Off cycling: CFLs are sensitive to frequent on/off cycling. Their rated lifetimes of 10,000 hours are
reduced in applications where the light is switched on and off very often. Closets and other places where lights are needed
for brief illumination should use incandescent or LED bulbs.
Dimmers: Dimmable CFLs are available for lights using a dimmer switch, but check
the package; not all CFLs can be used on dimmer switches. Using a regular CFL with a dimmer can shorten the bulb life span.
Timers: Most CFLs can be used
with a timer, however some timers have parts which are incompatible with CFLs; to check your timer, consult the timer package
or manufacturer. Using an incompatible timer can shorten the life of a CFL bulb.
Outdoors: CFLs can be used outdoors, but should be covered or shaded from
the elements. Low temperatures may reduce light levels - check the package label to see if the bulb is suited for outdoor
Retail lighting: CFLs are not spot lights. Retail store display lighting usually requires narrow focus beams for stronger spot lighting.
CFLs are better for area lighting.
Mercury content: CFLs contain small amounts of mercury which is a toxic metal. This metal may be released
if the bulb is broken, or during disposal. New 'Alto' CFL bulbs are now available with low-mercury content. These low-mercury
CFLs are available at our online store.
For more information about mercury and CFLs, see below.
Mercury and CFLs Mercury is a toxic metal associated with contamination of water, fish, and food supplies,
and can lead to adverse health affects. A CFL bulb generally contains an average of 5 mg of mercury (about one-fifth of that
found in the average watch battery, and less than 1/100th of the mercury found in an amalgam dental filling). 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 for the same time.
The net benefit of using the more energy efficient lamp is positive,
and this is especially true if the mercury in the fluorescent lamp is kept out of the waste stream when the lamp expires.
All fluorescent lamps do not contain the same amount of mercury. Philips lamps with Alto Lamp Technology, for instance,
contain less mercury than conventional fluorescent lamps. Philips claims the bulbs have the lowest amount of mercury of any
bulb on the market at less than 3.8 mg per bulb. To achieve this, Philips uses a specially developed
mercury capsule which ensures the exact amount of mercury is placed in a tiny glass capsule which is attached to the lamp
Handling and Disposal of CFLs
The mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs poses no threat while in the bulb, but if you break one:
- open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more
- use a wet rag to clean it up and put all
of the pieces, and the rag, into a plastic bag
- place all materials in a second sealed plastic bag
- call your local recycling center to see if they accept this material, otherwise put it in your local trash.
Wash your hands afterward.
Burned out CFLs can be dropped off at Home Depot and Ikea stores. Another
solution is to save spent CFLs for a community household hazardous waste collection, which would then send the bulbs to facilities
capable of treating, recovering or recycling them. For more information on CFL disposal or recycling, you can contact your