7 tips for handling fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights are attractive for their brightness, low heat emission a low energy consumption. Save money and keep the lights on with these seven tips.

7 tips for handling fluorescent lights

1. Compact fluorescent lights

  • Just one CFL in every house would eliminate 800,000 cars worth of greenhouse gases a year.
  • CFLs screw into a regular light socket, use 75 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs, and last 10 times as long.
  • They are also getting cheaper, and now come in a variety of sizes and wattage equivalents, as well as in three-way and dimmable versions.

2. Leave the lights on

  • Turning off lights doesn't always conserve energy; turning a fluorescent light on and off frequently wastes power and shortens bulb life.
  • If you're going to be out of a room for less than half an hour, leave fluorescent fixtures on. (The same applies to compact fluorescent bulbs.)

3. Replace light tubes with ease

  • The replacement process depends on the type of tube.
  • To remove a double-pin (rapid-start) tube, give it a quarter turn so that the pins line up with the slots in the sockets, then gently pull the tube out.
  • To remove a single-pin (instant-start) tube, press the tube toward the spring-loaded socket and gently pull the opposite end out.

4. Be careful

  • Fluorescent tubes contain trace amounts of toxic mercury. When a fluorescent bulb fails, recycle it.
  • Check with your county or city for nearby recycling centres.

5. Choosing colour-true bulbs

  • You can get more natural lighting with fluorescents by choosing tubes according to their colour temperature, measured in degrees Kelvin (K). Light from high-temperature bulbs (4000K and above) contains a high proportion of blue, which is harsh and cool.
  • Light from lower-temperature bulbs contains more red, which is warmer and softer. A 3500K tube provides the most accurate rendition of colours. Light from a 2700K bulb most closely resembles that given off by a regular incandescent bulb.

6. Using low-temperature bulbs

  • Fluorescent tubes start up slowly when the temperature is below 50°F (10°C). If you have fluorescents in the garage or in a workshop that gets cold, install a bulb rated for low temperatures.
  • If the problem persists, replace the ballast with a low-temperature one.

7. Time to replace

  • Fluorescent bulbs last longer than other bulbs, but they have a few quirks that may fool you into thinking they've gone bad when they're just fine: A cold room, a faulty ballast, or even a bulb that's slightly askew can make you think the bulb is bad when it really isn't.
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