Home › Electrical Engineering Forum › General Discussion › How green are Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)?
- This topic has 51 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated 10 years, 1 month ago by Anonymous.
2010/10/11 at 8:32 am #10238
Back on this subject…
Some countries and states like Australia, California, and the European Union plan in the near future to ban incandescent light bulbs, to the benefit of Compact Fluorescent Lights, Lamps (CFLs).
There are two main advantages given by Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) : …
- High light efficiency (quantity of light produced per watt of electricity), multiplied by a factor of 3 to 4 compared to incandescent lamps,
- Lifetime multiplied by a factor of 10.
Worldwide, this represents a huge quantity of electricity saving and CO2 emission!
But is it as green as it seems after all?
Some aspects related to this technology are less idyllic and should be considered in the global assessment:
- The main issue is the presence of mercury in the fluorescent tube, as well as some toxic materials such as lead in the necessary electronic circuit. That is why collecting and recycling of spent CFLs is absolutely mandatory in order to avoid spilling of the environment.
- CFLs are much more complex and heavier than incandescent lamps. This results in a higher need for energy for manufacturing and delivery. Recycling is also requesting energy, so that, at the end, this partly counterbalances the advantage of lower energy consumption.
- In cold countries, the heat produced by incandescent lamps participates in the global heating of the homes. Reducing the heat produced by lamps must simply be compensated by more energy produced by the heating system.
- The current absorbed by the electronic circuit is far from a pure sinusoid. This means that a higher current is necessary for a given power compared to a purely resistive circuit such as an incandescent lamp. The current distortion (harmonics …) may be responsible for additional losses and disturbances in the supply network.
- And last aspect: as CFLs do not operate instantaneously and need a few minutes before achieving full lighting efficiency, people are inclined to let them turned on, even if it is not necessary.
Are Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) to be the only available anyway everywhere in the future?
If yes, you’ll have to accept some drawbacks:
- Higher replacement cost, particularly worrying for bulbs turned-on infrequently,
- CFLs are sensitive to extreme temperatures, making them unsuitable for outdoor usage,
- Frequent turning on and off significantly reduces the lifetime, so CFLs are not appropriate in such conditions,
- No possibility of dimming,
- No possibility of directional lighting.
That is the price to pay for a sustainable development.
Jacques Schonek2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11445AnonymousGuest
How green are CFL’s (Compact Flouresent Light)
I totaly agree with Jacques Schonek comments.
There is too little information given about the reality of the CFL’s. The industry have only been talking about the reduction of energy consumption but have kept all the negative environmental hazards in the dark.
Some countries like i.e. Sweden have very strict rules on how to handle CFL’s when broken or when disposed of in order to limit the spread of the very toxic mercury in the landfills. When these issues become known to the public and mandatory handling rules are in place it will be very clear that CFL’s is not the solution for environmental friendly lighting.
The only environmentally friendly evolution on lighting to day seems to be LED lighting which is extremely efficient even though still some what costlier that the toxic CFL’s. The much longer life time of LED’s (+50.000h) compensate though to a great extent the price difference and the rapid development within the sector is continuously reducing price.
When classifying products energy efficiency it should also information about toxicity.
Folke Asell2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11446AnonymousGuest
CFL’s are a great way to save a little on your energy bill. CFL’s are slower to brighten up than incandescents. They cost a little more initially, but the savings should more than pay for that. Bulb life is much greater than the incandescent bulb, but the compact has dangerous mercury in it.
In my article CFL’s – A New Twist In Light Bulbs, I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of CFL bulbs.2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11447AnonymousGuest
Thank you Jacques for this accurate and good article ; I have a question linked to health problem : are CFLs dangerous for human ? we know that it generates relatively high magnetic field and this sounds not so good when close to human body. Do you have any position or technical data on this aspect ?2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11448AnonymousGuest
Be so kind to give me an answer to my scruple. How the CLS have infuence on human eyes? We know as well that “white light”, naturaly sun light and also light from bulbs have complete spectar of colours, the CFLs does not have that kind of light, that is the reason that we fatigue our eyes more than in case we use bulbs.
Can you give me your opinion about that. I think that this fact is very important?
Best regards!2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11449AnonymousGuest
This question is a subject of intense debate, and I have no ability to answer. All I can say is that CFLs are using the same type of circuits as electronic ballasts for standard fluorescent tubes, which are used for a long time without controversy.2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11450AnonymousGuest
Indeed, CFLs like all fluorescent tubes do not produce a warm and colourful light as incandescent bulbs. But as far as I know, there is no acknowledged consequence on the health of our eyes. This is only a question of comfort.
Some old technology tubes may produce flicker (rapid fluctuation of light intensity), but this is totally solved with electronic ballasts included in CFLs or associated with recent technology tubes.2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11451AnonymousGuest
I have sucessfully specified 2700K fluorescent lamps and CFL’s for clients that required an “incandescent look”, mostly in nursing homes here in the States. Interestingly enough you can also specify 2700K for LED cove lighting applications!
You can now get “instant on” CFL lamps that require no warm up. Phillips Amalgram (SP?) is one brand that comes to mind. My wife just bought some for our bathroom and they work great.2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11452AnonymousGuest
Energy efficient light bulbs are the easiest first step consumers and businesses can take towards reducing their energy consumption. Products have gotten light years better in the past few years and, in my eyes, indisputably better for 99% of applications. Both CFL and LED light bulbs run much cooler than incandescent bulbs, use energy much more efficiently, and do offer saving on your electricity bill. I am a vendor of energy efficient bulbs, so perhaps I am a bit biased, but I don’t know why everyone doesn’t switch today.2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11453
thanks for your comment2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11454
could you tell us why you beleive it’s the best info … ?2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11455AnonymousGuest
I believe most people see CFL’s as a short term solution as a lighting source until solid state lighting (LED’s etc) reaches full maturity.
SSL lighting meets and exceeds the two advantages of CFL lighting you state above, that is efficiency and potential lifetime.
Efficiencies in SSL are still steadily increasing and prices will ‘steadily’ decrease as demand increases.
Harmonics can still be an issue but sensible driver circuits can largely overcome this. SSL’s are dimmable, non-toxic and more ‘rugged’ than any other light source. The question I have is how long before CFL lamps go the way of incandescents and are banned as well?. Would suggest it won’t be that long!2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11456AnonymousGuest
Well while pondering on the given information we find both plus and the minus of the element yet the plus is more . most imp thing is the change . we must accept and adjust accordingly. not bad atall.2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11457AnonymousGuest
How does the efficiency of ‘energy saving’ bulbs compare with incandescent bulbs in terms of conversion of electrical energy into light + heat? The reason I ask is that sitting here in the British winter it occurs to me that any heat generated as a by-product of lighting this room is not necessarily wasted energy, and my overall energy consumption may not be significantly affected by swapping light-bulbs. Am I right?2010/10/11 at 8:34 am #11458AnonymousGuest
Thanks for writing about this. It misses a couple of important points. 1) CFLs actually reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment because of their relative efficiency when compared to incandescents. See this calculation: http://www.energyrace.com/commentary/more_on_mercury_coal_and_cfls_updated/ which assumes that 0% of the CFLs are recycled. Popular Mechanics also crunched the numbers on this and found the same thing. 2) dimmable CFLs are available. Although they come at a premium.
Thanks again. – Corky
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