Are CFL lamps safe?
There are arguments for and against the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL). Some of those arguments donÃ¯Â¿Â½t really stand up to scrutiny, but there are some serious aspects that, in my opinion, havenÃ¯Â¿Â½t been properly addressed. The health scares that have been stirred up in the press are grossly exaggerated; weÃ¯Â¿Â½ve had fluorescent lighting in our working lives for more than half a century, so the true numbers of those affected by that type of light are already known. But the real problem affects us all; the safe disposal of CFL lamps is not something that can be down-played. These lamps contain toxic materials (though they are perfectly safe in normal use) and we must find suitable ways of ensuring that dead lamps donÃ¯Â¿Â½t find their ways into landfill, which would ultimately find these toxins bleeding into the water system.
So there is an important message here: save energy by using CFL lamps, but PLEASE dispose of them correctly. I take ours to the council recycling facility.
Do I have to accept poorer lighting if I use low energy lamps?
No Ã¯Â¿Â½ not at all, although I have sympathy with some peopleÃ¯Â¿Â½s experiences. The lighting industry hasnÃ¯Â¿Â½t done enough to help itself to gain the confidence of its customers and thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s been the biggest problem.
The common complaints are these:
CFL lamps take too long to come to full brightness:
All true Ã¯Â¿Â½ but the situation is improving as the science gets better. For me, its about accepting a bit of change. Is it a problem, or is it something thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s just a bit different.
But the light is too dull:
Two things here Ã¯Â¿Â½ I know that first impressions are important, but the dullness that we experience when we switch on a CFL soon disappears once its come to full brightness, and, there is a more serious issue of understanding what size of lamp you need to use to replace an incandescent lamp. If youÃ¯Â¿Â½re using a 100W light bulb, there isnÃ¯Â¿Â½t a CFL or LED lamp to replace it, so you need to think a bit more carefully about what youÃ¯Â¿Â½re trying to do.
On a personal point, in my living room IÃ¯Â¿Â½ve replaced six 60W candle lamps with six 12W CFL lamps. No problem, just an electricity meter going round slower. But IÃ¯Â¿Â½m keen to see how the new LED lamps perform, because they may provide an even bigger saving.
And the light is too cold:
YouÃ¯Â¿Â½re using the wrong type of lamp. Fluorescent lamps are available in a number of different colour temperatures, and the CFLs that youÃ¯Â¿Â½ll buy in a supermarket will usually be the ones that properly replace incandescent lamps, but if youÃ¯Â¿Â½re buying from a market stall or from a geezer in the pub, you may be buying one of the less suitable versions.
Always check that the CFL lamps that you buy for your home have a colour temperature of 2700K. It should be shown on the packaging and on the lamp.
I donÃ¯Â¿Â½t get the same spotlight effect as I used to?
Ah Ã¯Â¿Â½ here we have a real problem with fluorescent replacements for tungsten halogen lamps. ThereÃ¯Â¿Â½s a clever bit of science going on here, but to no good end, IÃ¯Â¿Â½m afraid. Tungsten halogen lamps are designed to collect as much light from the filament as possible, re-focus it and send that light down a controlled light beam. Putting a coil of fluorescent tube into such a small lamp is clever, but itÃ¯Â¿Â½s impossible to focus that light into a defined beam. So you used to have a beautifully lit piece of artwork Ã¯Â¿Â½ or maybe some working light on your kitchen worktop, and now itÃ¯Â¿Â½s disappeared. And thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s why.
The answer is to look at LED options. Earlier LED versions were also annoyingly diffuse, but the latest lamps may give you the answer that youÃ¯Â¿Â½re looking for. But buy one and check first before committing to a wholesale change. This is a tricky one.
Greenwashing: a guidline for good behaviour
The elephant box in the room
What Lighting Designers Should be Looking For . . . and Asking For
The Children's Fire
Products That Last - Redux
Products That Last - Review No.3
Products That Last - Review No.2
Products That Last - Review No.1
Products That Last
Talking about Waste - as we were . . .
Sustainability - They Seek it Here, They Seek it There . . .
Sustainability - the core message
The Life and Times of the LED - a series in ten parts
Sustainability: They Seek it Here; They Seek it There . . .
John Bullock writes a regular column for lighting magazines. You can find all of the archived pieces here.
BLOGS - LIGHTING DESIGN
John Bullock writes about all things and anything concerning architectural lighting design; new technologies and old lamps; anything,really.
HOME LIGHTING CONSULTANT
John Bullock designs innovative lighting designs for people's homes. By working closely with clients he is able to deliver solutions that meet - and exceed - their expectations.
BLOGS - CPD RIBA CORE PROGRAMME 2015
John Bullock will be presenting a seminar on latest lighting design and technologies as part of the RIBA CPD Core programme 2015
BLOGS - SUSTAINABILITY
John Bullock believes that the UK lighting industry needs to embrace a sustainable way of delivering good quality product through good design, fabrication and end-of-life management.
BLOGS - LIGHTING HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Lighting has a vital role to play in our health and wellbeing.
CONDUIT (6) - Lighting for Winter Gardens
CONDUIT 5: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (2)
FX Magazine: Lighting Focus - Sustainability (Issue 258)
CONDUIT 4: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (1)
Can Smart Lighting Save The Planet?
CONDUIT 3: Home Lighting - The Bathroom
Can Lighting Save Us From Ourselves . . . NO!
CONDUIT 2: Home Lighting - The Dining Room