Better Customer Satisfaction: Understanding Compact Florescent Light Bulbs
In 1973, at the height of the oil crisis, an engineer at General Electric developed the compact florescent lamp, the harbinger of a new generation of low energy light bulbs With an odd, angular form factor, cold light output, and high cost, however, the bulbs struggled to gain popular acceptance. By 2007, CFLs claimed only a 20 percent market share in the United States even though they use 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and burn ten times longer.
Over the last three years, however, as governments have stepped up their efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions and moved to ban the use of traditional incandescent bulbs by 2012, consumers have been forced to look more closely at CFLs. The good news is that companies have also responded with better CFL products. While many people are eagerly awaiting the arrival of light emitting diode or LED bulbs, CFLs are good low energy light bulbs if you understand what you’re buying.
The fact that CFLs do contain toxic mercury has been a major public concern. For the most part, that fear can be set to rest. The amount of mercury in a CFL, about 2.3 to 3.5 milligrams, is approximately the size of the tip of a ball point pen. The mercury in a simple home thermometer is a thousand times greater. The primary caution in regard to toxic material in CFLs is correct disposal to guard against leeching into the soil and water table.
Light quality has also been an issue of consumer satisfaction. After generations of using incandescent bulbs, buyers habitually equate wattage with light quality. You cannot shop for CFLs by that old standard. A 26-watt CFL, for instance, will have a light output equal to a 100-watt incandescent bulb. However, the color of that light can vary greatly by temperature. All CFL packaging will give the temperature (think “color”) of the bulb on the Kelvin scale:
- 2700k to 3000k bulbs are warm and appear more after the fashion of the slightly yellow light of an incandescent.
- 3500k to 4100k bulbs are cool and white, comparable to “frosted” incandescents.
- 5000k to 6500k bulbs give off “natural” or “daylight” and might be compared to the “Reveal” series of incandescent bulbs by General Electric.
It’s difficult for consumers to retrain their thinking and realize that “watt” actually expresses the amount of energy the bulb needs to burn, not how much light it gives off. With CFLs, buyers need to realize that in bulbs of the same wattage:
- low Kelvin temperature gives off light that appears dimmer, and
- high Kelvin temperature produces light that appear brighter.
The measurement for actual light produced by any bulb is a lumen, which will become an important number to be considered as LED bulbs come on the market.
For instance, a 60-watt, frosted incandescent light bulb puts out about 550 lumens. We can read that statement and know from our conventional understanding of wattage and the term “frosted” that the bulb is “dim,” but the lumen value in and of itself is still largely meaningless to the vast majority of people. As low energy light bulbs evolve, however, consumers will need to understand that value more and more.
Compact fluorescent lamps are an excellent alternative to conventional incandescent bulbs in terms of emissions produced, operational life, and energy consumed. With a basic understanding of the product you get an efficient, cost-effective light source that represents a significant step forward in the development of low energy light bulbs.
This article provided courtesy of HowToSaveElectricity.net