Green lighting: a primer

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have replaced incandescent bulbs as the standard household light in Canada. Together with fluorescent tubes, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), low-voltage (LV) halogen lights and photocell battery lighting, they are reliable, economical and adaptable. Here's a primer on the five common kinds of green lighting.

Green lighting: a primer

Compact fluorescents (CFLs)

  • Compact fluorescents (CFLs) give off the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs, but use 20 percent less electricity and last about 10 times longer.
  • Here's how these tubes work: an electric current passes through a gas that emits ultraviolet light, causing a coating of phosphorous on the inside of the tube to glow.
  • CFLs are not entirely good for the environment, however: they contain a small amount of mercury, so take care to dispose of old bulbs carefully by using a chemical collection service.
  • For advice and information on such collection services, contact your local municipality.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

  • Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were once used only for indicator and panel lights in cars and other electronic equipment, but with the advent of ultra-bright versions, they're now used both individually and in groups as light sources in commercial, domestic and other settings where bright light is needed.
  • A spotlight lamp made up of multiple LEDs has a life of up to 50,000 hours.
  • In addition to their longevity, LEDs have several important advantages.
  • These lights don't emit heat.
  • They consume very little electricity.
  • And, because they remain cool to the touch, these lights can be safely fitted in rooms where children play, and into floors as uplights without risk to sensitive surfaces, including bare feet.

Low voltage (LV) halogen lamps

  • Low voltage (LV) halogen lamps are a type of incandescent light, but because of the way the tungsten filament interacts with certain chemicals, the bulb lasts longer than an incandescent bulb (although not as long as CFLs and LEDs) with a lifespan of about 4000 to 5000 hours.
  • Halogen bulbs are made of quartz, or from glass with a high melting point.
  • These bulbs emit a beautiful pure light suited to pot lights, reading lamps and garden lights.
  • Putting these lights in banks of three or more can give you brilliant effects, but doing so isn't energy efficient and so is best avoided.

Photocell battery lights

  • These lights use photocell batteries that store energy from the sun — so they avoid electricity altogether.
  • Though this kind of light is best suited to the outdoors, it'll also work in other areas with direct exposure to the sun.

Keep this primer on the five common types of green lighting in Canada in mind, and you'll easily be able to choose the best kind of green lighting for your home.

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