CFL Bulb Guide

CFL Bulb Guide

CFL bulbs have been around for more than half a century, but they have become especially popular over the last two decades. Though you have probably seen the spiral-shaped CFL bulb in homes and businesses, you may not know much about it. After all, the CFL bulb is not as common as traditional incandescent bulbs or even LED bulbs.

So, what are the advantages of using CFL bulbs? How do they work? Are they more energy efficient than other options? What is the disposal process for CFL bulbs? Finally, where can you find high-quality CFL bulbs for sale?

In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at how manufacturers and retailers define a CFL bulb:

What Is A CFL Bulb?

A CFL bulb is a Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) bulb that can replace traditional incandescent bulbs. Though fluorescent bulbs have been around since the early 20th Century, they were initially made using long tubes. Naturally, these long tubes could not fit into most residential or even commercial lighting spaces. Over the years, researchers developed fluorescent tubes that curled around and used a ballast to connect to standard light sockets.

CFL light bulbs are most notable for their appearance, as virtually no other light bulb on the market has such a unique, spiral design. However, The compact fluorescent bulb also differs in the way that it creates light. The glass tubes of a CFL bulb are coated on the inside with a fluorescent white powder. When the bulb is given a source of electricity, mercury and argon fumes stored inside of the bulb produce UV light that is not visible to the naked eye. This invisible light reacts with the fluorescent coating to produce bright, visible light.

CFL Bulbs Vs Incandescent Bulbs

As you can imagine, there are pretty vast differences between CFL and incandescent bulbs, from their shape to the way they produce light. In fact, one of the few similarities is the size and shape of the electric contact, which can be screwed into E26 light sockets. However, when it comes to color, energy efficiency, and even disposal, the two bulb types could not be more different.

The most obvious difference is the appearance of the two bulbs. CFL bulbs use winding tubes to compress the long fluorescent tubes and make them compacted to fit into household light fixtures. Alternatively, incandescent bulbs have a rounded exterior that people often associate with the “standard” light bulb. Many consumers prefer the look of incandescent bulbs, which is why CFL bulbs are often obfuscated by coverings or lampshades.

Even the ways in which the bulbs produce light differ. As previously mentioned, CFL bulbs use a combination of fluorescent coating with mercury and argon fumes. Alternatively, incandescent lights use electricity to heat up the tungsten filament, which produces heat-based light. While this would make you think that only incandescent bulbs produce heat, both CFL bulbs and incandescent bulbs become hot to the touch when left turned on.

That said, CFL bulbs produce less heat than their incandescent counterparts, which is one of the main reasons that CFL bulbs are more energy efficient. On average, a CFL bulb uses less than half the energy of an incandescent bulb and lasts about 10x longer. Moreover, CFL bulbs can produce more lumens using the same amount of energy and have a wider color spectrum. CFL bulbs are often known for their bright, white-blue light, but they can produce a wide range of colors. However, CFL lights tend to experience color shifts over time (unlike incandescent bulbs). 

Another big difference between CFL bulbs and incandescent bulbs is the way in which they are thrown out. Due to the mercury in CFL bulbs, you cannot simply throw them in the garbage. Instead, they have to be disposed of carefully (more on that below). For some people, this makes incandescent bulbs easier to use, as you can simply throw them in the garbage when they burn out. Additionally, CFL bulbs are typically twice as expensive as incandescent bulbs.

CFL Bulbs Vs LED - Which One Is Best?

Like incandescent bulbs, LED light bulbs have their own unique way of producing light. More specifically, LED works by passing electric currents through a diode that emits light. This process is known as electroluminescence. This method uses even less energy than CFL bulbs while still producing the same number of lumens.

Essentially, LED bulbs are a substantial step up in both price and energy efficiency from CFL bulbs. The price is twice as much, but LED bulbs can last for up to 25,000 hours (as opposed to 10,000 hours with CFL bulbs) and use a fraction of the energy with the same wattage. Like incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs also do not contain mercury, making them easier to dispose of when they reach the end of their life.

If you’re trying to determine which bulb is best for you, it ultimately comes down to your priorities. If you want a cheaper bulb at checkout, CFL bulbs are your best option. However, if you want bulbs that will save you more money over the long term, LED bulbs are preferable. LED bulbs are also best for those who want to be more environmentally friendly with their lighting. Either way, both CFL and LED bulbs are more cost-effective, sustainable options than incandescent bulbs.

CFL Bulb Disposal

The process for recycling or disposing of your CFL bulb can vary based on your location and the resources available to you. For example, if you live in close proximity to an antifreeze, batteries, oil, and paint (ABOP) facility, you can usually drop your old CFL bulbs off there. Alternatively, many municipalities have hazardous waste disposal plants where you can also handle your light bulb disposal. However, these facilities may not be an easy option for you, especially if you need to dispose of bulbs on a regular basis.

So, if you want to learn how to dispose of CFL bulbs without going to a waste or recycling facility, you can often make an inquiry at your local home improvement store. For example, most Home Depot, Lowe’s, and IKEA locations accept CFL bulb disposals. This makes it easier for people in most parts of the country to get rid of their unwanted CFL bulbs quickly. You can learn more about your disposal options on the EPA website.

Though many states do not have laws on the books mandating CFL bulb disposal or recycling, many do. In either case, it is important to remember why proper CFL bulb disposal matters. If you throw CFL bulbs in a dumpster or a trash can, they could break and release mercury into the surrounding environment. Not only is this bad for the local ecosystem, but it could prove hazardous to the people or pets in your home. So, if you opt for CFL bulbs when lighting your home or business, make sure you are willing to dispose of them properly.

We hope you found this guide on CFL bulbs both fun and informative! Are you interested in learning more about CFL bulbs? Are you ready to purchase high-quality light bulbs at affordable prices? If so, be sure to check out the products available at Bulb Center today!

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