Why do my bulbs seem to burn out quickly?
Light bulbs can burn out quickly for a variety of reasons. The first thing to do if a bulb seems to burn out quickly is check the fixture it's in. Light fixtures can wear out over time and develop wiring problems that blow out bulbs. If bulbs are repeatedly burning out quickly in the same light fixture, it's probably the fixture. (Of course, be sure you're following the fixture manufacturer's specifications for light bulb wattage, voltage, and bulb shape.)
The second thing to consider is the type of bulb you're buying. Some new bulb types have a longer bulb life than regular incandescent light bulbs you're used to. We offer a line of energy-saving Soft White bulbs guaranteed to last 2-8 years* (depending on bulb type).
How long should light bulbs last?
Light bulb manufacturers, adhere to a standard industry rating for light bulb life called "rated life." Check your light bulb package to see the rated hours of life for your particular bulb. The rated life is a measure of the median time in hours that it takes for a light bulb to burn out. This is the point in laboratory testing at which half the test bulbs have burned out and half the test bulbs are still burning.
A 60-watt incandescent bulb may have a rated life of 1,000 hours. However, not all bulbs of this type will last exactly that long. That rated life is the median the point in lab testing when 50% of the test samples have burned out and 50% are still burning.
Why do fluorescent light bulbs need a ballast?
Fluorescent light bulbs need a ballast because they use a gas to create light. Regular light bulbs (also known as incandescent bulbs) create light by heating a filament inside the bulb. The heat makes the filament white-hot, producing the light that you see. In a fluorescent bulb, when the gas is excited by electricity, it emits invisible ultraviolet light that hits the white coating inside the fluorescent bulb. The coating changes the ultraviolet light into light you can see. (A lot of the energy used to create the heat that lights an incandescent bulb is wasted. Because fluorescent bulbs don't use heat to create light, they are far more energy-efficient than regular incandescent bulbs.)
The combination of gas, electricity, and coating in a fluorescent bulb is so effective at producing light that, without something to regulate the electricity flowing into the bulb, the light will continue to gain intensity until the bulb stops working. That's where a ballast comes in. It supplies the initial electricity that creates the light, and then it regulates the amount of electricity flowing through the bulb so that the right amount of light is emitted.
What is a ballast, and how does one work?
A ballast is an electrical component used with a fluorescent bulb (or mercury vapor lamp or arc lamp) to conduct electricity at each end of the tube. It supplies the initial electricity to the bulb that creates light, and then it regulates the amount of electricity flowing through the bulb so that it emits the right amount of light.
What makes compact fluorescent and fluorescent bulbs more energy-efficient than regular bulbs?
Fluorescent light bulbs (including compact fluorescents) are more energy-efficient than regular bulbs because of the different method they use to produce light. Regular bulbs (also known as incandescent bulbs) create light by heating a filament inside the bulb; the heat makes the filament white-hot, producing the light that you see. A lot of the energy used to create the heat that lights an incandescent bulb is wasted. A fluorescent bulb, on the other hand, contains a gas that, when excited by electricity, hits a coating inside the fluorescent bulb and emits light. Because fluorescent bulbs don't use heat to create light, they are far more energy-efficient than regular incandescent bulbs.
Do light bulbs (such as compact fluorescent bulbs) give off hazardous amounts of ultraviolet (UV) light?
Regular fluorescent light bulbs used in your home and office do not produce a hazardous amount of ultraviolet light (UV). Most light sources, including fluorescent bulbs, emit a small amount of UV, but the UV produced by fluorescent light bulbs is far less than the amount produced by natural daylight. (Ultraviolet light rays are the light wavelengths that can cause sunburn and skin damage.
How much heat (or infrared radiation) is emitted by regular, halogen, and compact fluorescent light bulbs?
Regular light bulbs, known as incandescent 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 they emit is in the form of heat (also called infrared radiation). To reduce the heat emitted by regular incandescent and halogen light 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 bulbs and fluorescent tubes contain a gas that, when excited by electricity, hits a coating inside the fluorescent bulb and emits light. (This makes them far more energy-efficient than regular incandescent bulbs.) The fluorescent bulbs used in your home emit only around 30% of their energy in heat, making them far cooler than regular bulbs and an ideal choice whenever reducing heat from bulbs is important.
What's the white powder I see inside my fluorescent bulb?
The white powder that you see inside a fluorescent lamp is called phosphor, which is a substance that emits white, visible light whenever it absorbs light waves. Both compact fluorescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes contain a gas that gives off invisible light when excited by electricity. This invisible light travels to the phosphor coating on the bulb, where it is transformed into light visible to the human eye.
What's the difference between a blacklight and a blacklight-blue bulb?
Blacklights are fluorescent lights that are designed to emit a specific type (UVA) of ultraviolet light (although a small amount of visible light is emitted as well). Blacklights are good for making certain substances that would normally be invisible glow (or "fluoresce"). For example, you may have had your hand stamped at an amusement park with an invisible ink that, when viewed under a blacklight, glowed a bright neon color. Blacklights are available in Fluorescent and Incandescent. Fluorescent Blacklights are great to use for a party or blacklight poster; Incandescent Blacklights are an inexpensive way to create a party atmosphere.
Blacklight-blue bulbs are designed with a special deep-blue glass that filters out visible light, producing the maximum amount of ultraviolet light possible. If you're looking for a blacklight that produces the minimum amount of visible light for an especially sensitive area, blacklight-blue bulbs are an ideal choice.
How does a compact fluorescent light bulb work?
Fluorescent light bulbs (including compact fluorescents) are more energy-efficient than regular bulbs because of the different method they use to produce light. Regular bulbs (also known as incandescent bulbs) create light by heating a filament inside the bulb; the heat makes the filament white-hot, producing the light that you see. A lot of the energy used to create the heat that lights an incandescent bulb is wasted. A fluorescent bulb, on the other hand, contains a gas that produces invisible ultraviolet light (UV) when the gas is excited by electricity. The UV light hits the white coating inside the fluorescent bulb and the coating changes it into light you can see. Because fluorescent bulbs don't use heat to create light, they are far more energy-efficient than regular incandescent bulbs.
What's the difference between a CFL bulb and a fluorescent bulb?
The primary difference is in size; 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 lamps have an "integral" ballast that is built into the light bulb, whereas most fluorescent tubes require a separate ballast independent of the bulb. Both types offer energy-efficient light.
What compact fluorescent light bulb do I buy to replace an incandescent (regular) bulb?
While a regular (incandescent) light bulb uses heat to produce light, a fluorescent bulb creates light using an entirely different method that is far more energy-efficient. 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 bulb.
Don't worry about the math, though we make it easy for you to figure out which compact fluorescent bulb to buy by displaying the equivalent regular watts you're used to prominently on the package. Just look for the wattage you would normally buy in a regular bulb.
In case you're curious, here are the watts needed by regular incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light.
Because the wattage of a CFL bulb is much lower than that of an incandescent, you can use higher wattage CFL giving you the equivalent light of a higher wattage incandescent. For example: If your fixture says not to exceed 60 watts, you can use a 15 watt CFL to get the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb or use up to a 42 watt CFL and increase the amount of light.
Can I use a compact fluorescent light bulb with a dimmer switch?
To use a compact fluorescent bulb on a dimmer switch, you must buy a bulb that's specifically made to work with dimmers (check the package).
Can I use a compact fluorescent light bulb on my 3-way lamp?
Check the package for this application. If a regular CFL is use in a 3-way switch, it will work on the middle (medium) setting and it should not damage the bulb. The 3-way switch does not alter the performance of the bulb.
Why does my compact fluorescent light bulb flicker or appear dim when I first turn it on?
The first compact fluorescent bulbs flickered when they were turned on because it took a few seconds for the ballast to produce enough electricity to excite the gas inside the bulb. There is now no significant flicker (less than 1 second). However, these bulbs do require a short warm-up period before they reach full brightness, which is why they may appear dim when first turned on. Compact fluorescent bulbs are best used in fixtures that are left on for longer periods of time, rather than in fixtures that are turned off and on frequently.
Can I use a CFL in applications where I will be turning the lights on/off frequently?
Compact fluorescent light bulbs work best if they are left on for over 15 minutes each time they are turned on. These types of lamps can take up to 3 minutes to warm-up. Warm-up will probably not be noticeable from a user stand point, but the lamp needs to warm-up in order to reach the point of most efficient operation. Frequently switching them on and off will shorten the life of the product. If the life of the lamp is shortened significantly, you will not reap the financial benefits (includes energy & life of lamp), that are common to CFL lamps.
Can I use a compact fluorescent light bulb in an enclosed light fixture?
Compact fluorescent light bulbs may generally be used in enclosed fixtures as long as the enclosed fixture is not recessed. Totally enclosed recessed fixtures (for example, a ceiling can light with a cover over the bulb) create temperatures that are too high to allow the use of a compact fluorescent bulb.
Can I use a CFL bulb outside?
Many CFL bulbs can be used outdoors if used in an enclosed fixture. To be certain, look for the package or bulb to say that it can be used outdoors and verify the lowest operating temperature for the area where the product is being used.
Can I use a CFL in any position?
Yes, CFL bulbs can be used in any operating position unless there is text printed on the lamp or packaging that indicates a required operating position.
Can I use a CFL in applications involving vibration such as a ceiling fan or garage door opener?
Generally it is not recommended to use CFLs in vibrating environments. Vibration can cause the electronics in the CFL to fail. There is one CFL bulb (FLE11) that is available for use in a ceiling fan. Check the package for this application.
Can compact fluorescent bulbs create interference with electronic equipment, such as radios?
Many electronic devices, such as radios, televisions, wireless telephones, and remote controls, use infrared light to transmit signals. Infrequently, these types of electronic devices accidentally interpret the infrared light coming from a compact fluorescent bulb as a signal, causing the electronic device to temporarily malfunction or stop working. (For example, your television might suddenly change channels.) Fortunately, this only happens when light is produced at the same wavelength as the electronic device signals, which is rare.
To reduce the chance of interference, avoid placing compact fluorescent bulbs 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.