Energy Efficient Lighting- Fact or Fiction

There is without a doubt some highly publicized fallacies  out there in regards to the new technology (CFL’s).  I have been a specialist in this type of lighting for many years and have learned, first hand, through trial and error mostly, that not all “CFL’s” are the same.

One of the first myths is that “CFL’s” bulbs cause and /or create fires.  Ask yourself this, with our strict rules and regulations regarding products sold in Canada, do you honestly think they would be on the shelves?  No way, no how!  In some countries maybe, but not Canada.  The are very safe, period.

Mercury content-  Some lower grade bulbs contain substantially larger quantities of mercury.  A typical store bought bulb contains, 5 mg of liquid mercury.  When disposed of properly and in accordance with local municipal rules for disposal, they pose no risk or concern.  There are commercially rated bulbs on the market however, that contain 80% lower mercury (1 mg or less) usually made from solid state amalgam.  This type of mercury liquifies when charged and solidifies again when powered down.  Amalgam mercury is considerably more reliable, less hazardous but is more costly to make work.

A good light bulb can change not only the decor of a room, but also the mood.  It can go from feeling very warm and inviting to cold and distant.  Historically, when it came to changing an incandescent bulb, typically a 60 or 100 watt, there was not much choice at all.  Simply take one out and screw in another.  With todays “CFL’s”, we now have the option of choosing colour.  I do not mean colour in the traditional sense, red, blue, green.  I mean different shades of white.  I have seen it 1000 times over the years, a typical lighting customer standing in the Home Depot, looking upwards to something they do not quite understand because of the options that are available today.

The standard colour temperature of an incandescent bulb is approximately 2700 kelvin (2700K).  I am not going to explain the kelvin scale, it will only add to the confusion.  Rule of thumb, the lower the “K” rating, the warmer the colour.  “CFL” lights give us the option of making the light appear brighter (whiter) by increasing the colour temperature and not the actual wattage being consumed.  Say you want the appearance of a white light, opt for bulbs with colour temps. or “K” ratings of between 3000K and 4100K.  Many mistakes are made by choosing bulbs  of 5000K or higher.  They will appear to your eye as blue in colour.  Not very attractive in a warm inviting bedroom setting.  Rule, the higher the “K” rating, the bluer the light.

A simple comparison for figuring out which bulb replaces which bulb.

Residential Commercial

60 watt 13-18 watt 10-13 watt
100 watt 23-27 watt 15-18 watt

Bear in mind, residential grade bulbs are rated for 2-3 hours per day.  Don’t be fooled by the claims of “will last for 9 years”.  Commercially rated bulbs can and will be used for 24 hours per day.  If they are designed to work harder and longer, they should cost you more to buy.  Factor in the fewer bulb changes and you will see their worth very quickly.

An example:

Lets say you run a business that is open 7 days a week, 12 hours a day.  Don’t get sucked into buying your lighting from retail providers.  They won’t fit the bill.  You need to get something that is designed to offer longer operation.  I always assess each customers needs the same way.  Take each application as it is called for, and make recommendations based on that criteria.

I am going to leave it at that for now.  I urge anyone, who is unsure of what to buy to call on me and ask any questions.  I have seen it too many times, you make the incorrect choice at the local hardware store, and lo and behold, you swear off the entire “CFL” technology.  It is here to stay people, you may as well get used to using it now.  Just take the time to get familiar with what is available to you, either for your home, or for your business.

Next time I will discuss some of the larger scale lighting projects and the astounding possibilities for savings.

I am here if you have any questions, comment on the blog or email.



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