Frequently Asked Questions

Category: Fluorescent

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What are cold cathode fluorescent light bulbs (CCFLs)?

The main difference between cold cathode and what we know as traditional compact fluorescent lighting, or hot cathode, is that hot cathode fluorescent light bulbs require large amounts of electric current pushed through a thin tungsten wire filament, superheating it. Because of this, the filament is fragile, easily destroyed by vibration and has a shorter life.

In comparison, the electrodes in cold cathode light bulbs operate at a much cooler temperature and have an incredibly strong iron thimble as a cathode, which allows for instant bulb starting and longer life. Unlike traditional fluorescent light bulbs, many cold cathode bulbs also have the ability to dim down to 5% of light output. For more information about Micro-Brite CCFLs, please refer to the Enlightening Sheets.

Can I use a CFL with an electronic timer or photocell?

Some electronic timers and photocells contain components that are incompatible with compact fluorescent light bulbs; using these bulbs in incompatible products will result in shorter bulb life. To find out if an electronic timer or photocell is compatible with compact fluorescent bulbs, check with the manufacturer of the timer or photocell.

Can CFLs create interference with electronic equipment, such as radios?

Television Interference (TVI) occurs when components in the ballast generate a magnetic field. This field may interfere with the amplification of the AM component of a received signal when the ballast is in close proximity to the receiver.

To reduce the chance of interference, avoid placing CFLs near these kinds of electronic devices. If interference occurs, move the bulb away from the electronic device, or plug either the light fixture or the electronic device into a different outlet. Litetronics light bulbs are engineered to greatly reduce TVI.

Will a compact fluorescent light bulb flicker or appear dim when I first turn it on?

Due to technological advances, Litetronics CFLs do not flicker when they are turned on. However, all CFLs require a short warm-up period before they reach full brightness, which is why they may appear dim when first turned on. If you’re looking for a CFL with a short warm-up time, try the Litetronics Neolite and Spiral-Lite CFLs. They reach full brightness in just 30 seconds – the fastest warm-up time in the industry! Compact fluorescent light bulbs are best used in fixtures that are left on for longer periods of time, rather than in fixtures that are turned on and off frequently.

Can I use a compact fluorescent light bulb in a 3-way fixture?

Only CFLs that are specifically designed to work with 3-way fixtures should be used in a 3-way fixture. The Spiral-Lite 3-Way CFL is compatible with 3-way fixtures. It has the same light output as a 50/100/150-watt incandescent light bulb, but it uses up to 75% less energy.

What differentiates Litetronics’ compact fluorescent light bulbs from other brands?

Litetronics CFLs have a legless design that gives them a shorter maximum overall length (MOL) than competing CFLs. This allows Litetronics CFLs to fit inside more fixtures. Litetronics CFLs also reach full brightness in just 30 seconds – the shortest warm-up time in the industry. Finally, Litetronics introduced the world’s first CFL with only one milligram of mercury – Neolite – which is the most environmentally friendly CFL on the planet.

What’s the difference between a compact fluorescent light bulb and a linear fluorescent bulb?

The primary difference is size and application. Compact fluorescent bulbs are made in special shapes (which require special technologies) to fit in standard household light sockets, like table lamps and ceiling fixtures. In addition, most compact fluorescent light bulbs have an integral ballast that is built into the base of the light bulb, whereas linear fluorescent tubes require a separate ballast independent of the bulb. Both types are energy efficient light sources.

What’s the white powder I see inside my fluorescent light bulb?

The white powder that you see inside a fluorescent light bulb is called phosphor, which is a substance that emits visible light whenever it absorbs ultra violet energy waves. The phosphor used in a fluorescent light bulb is what determines both the color temperature and the color rendering index.

How much heat is emitted by incandescent, halogen, and compact fluorescent light bulbs?

Incandescent light bulbs create light by heating a filament inside the bulb; the heat makes the filament white-hot, producing the light that you see. Halogen light bulbs create light through the same method. Because incandescent and halogen bulbs create light through heat, about 90% of the energy used is wasted to generate heat. To reduce the heat emitted by regular incandescent and halogen bulbs, use a lower watt bulb (like 60 watts instead of 100).

Fluorescent light bulbs use an entirely different method to create light. Both compact fluorescent light bulbs and fluorescent linear tubes only waste approximately 30% of their energy in heat, making them far cooler and more energy efficient than regular bulbs. Fluorescent light bulbs are an ideal choice whenever reducing heat or saving energy is important.

What compact fluorescent light bulb do I buy to replace a 60-, 75-, 100- or 150-watt incandescent bulb? How are the watts calculated?

While a regular incandescent light bulb uses heat to produce light, a fluorescent light bulb creates light using a far more energy-efficient method — in fact, 4-6 times more efficient. This means that you can buy a 15-watt compact fluorescent bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt regular incandescent light bulb.

Here are the watts needed by regular incandescent light bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light.

Incandescent CFL
40 10
60 15
75 20
100 23
125 27
150 42

What makes compact fluorescent and linear fluorescent bulbs more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs?

Fluorescent light bulbs (including compact fluorescents) are more energy efficient than standard bulbs because of the different method they use to produce light. Incandescent bulbs create light by heating a filament inside the bulb; the electricity makes the filament white-hot, producing the light that you see. Most of the energy is used to create the heat in an incandescent bulb is wasted. A fluorescent bulb, on the other hand, does not have to convert the energy to heat in order to generate light. Because fluorescent light bulbs don’t use heat to create light, they are far more energy efficient than regular incandescent bulbs.

Why do fluorescent light bulbs need a ballast?

A fluorescent light bulb has an electron stream flowing between the two cathodes located at either end of the tube, regardless of the tube shape. The ballast generates the electrical spike to start the stream and then maintains a constant voltage to maintain a consistent lumen output.