Fluorescent lamps are widely used for commercial spaces. If you are wondering where to spot one, take a look at the parking lot of an office. These lighting systems are what make the buildings milky white at night. A fluorescent lamp is a type of lamp that produces light by sending an electric current through the gas discharge in a sealed tube. They were originally practically applied in systems that can be turned off and on quickly because incandescent lights take time to fully illuminate. Hence, fluorescent lamps are often used in classrooms, retail stores, cafeterias, and even hallways. If you are considering using them in your space, understand the advantages and disadvantages of a fluorescent lamp first.
Advantages of Fluorescent Lamp
Long-term money savings, energy savings, and reduction in the harm to the environment are some benefits of a fluorescent lamp that are often brought up in discussions. The following facts will help you better understand its use and advantages.
1. Energy Efficient
Fluorescent lamps are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs in producing light. This makes them excellent choices for residential and commercial lighting. They also take a fraction of the time to reach full brightness compared to an incandescent lamp. Hence, they excel at any applications where they must be turned on and off frequently or dimmed across multiple levels, such as in multi-story buildings.
The fact they use less power means installing a fluorescent lighting system can be an effective way to save overall costs on electricity bills. As if power savings weren’t attractive enough, fluorescent lamps are known for their low-heat generation, making them safe to touch and better suited for use during hot, humid months.
Fluorescent lamps are sturdier than incandescent bulbs. They also have a considerably longer lifespan, making them perfect for applications requiring frequent on-off cycles without compromising their performance. A CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) in terms of light output and the Colour Rendering Index (CRI) has a value of 80. They are also less likely to break compared with an incandescent bulb if dropped accidentally.
The chances of fluorescent lamp shattering or cracking are very low because they do not get as hot as the traditional incandescent lights during operation. This means there’s little chance it will be broken by accident due to extreme temperature exposure when handled. This aspect alone makes fluorescent lamps even safer to use around children and pets at home, where accidental bumps may happen often.
3. Environmentally Friendly
Fluorescent lamps are more environmentally friendly than incandescent bulbs. They do not contain a lot of mercury, hence they’re easier to dispose of. That also means they don’t pose as much harm to the environment when thrown away improperly. These lamps, as mentioned, emit less heat into their surroundings during operation. Therefore, it is easy for cooling fans or other devices to keep up with their temperature output.
Fluorescent lamps have little impact on global warming. As suggested, that’s because of how efficient they are at power consumption and heat generation contrasted with incandescent bulbs. However, this particular point may vary from one manufacturer’s product line to another. Certain brands use toxic chemicals such as lead instead of mercury in some models within their lineup.
Fluorescent lamps are safe to use because they contain minimal amounts of mercury. They do not produce uneven light distribution, so there is no chance for them to cause eye irritation when used around the home. This makes a fluorescent lamp a good choice even in areas where children and pets often roam about. They also have a very low risk of shattering during operation. After all, they only give out small levels of heat from within their insulated glass tube. Fluorescent lights are safe to install even after running for hours as they don’t heat up like traditional light bulbs.
5. Variety of Fluorescent Lamp Designs
There are different types of fluorescent lamps, from spiral to long tubes. Depending on how much lighting users need for the workplace or home, they can opt for a CFL or even a fluorescent tube. CFLs are often recommended for residential lighting purposes where there will be frequent on-off switching cycles. These are effective for normal at-home use, either by family members or guests who visit frequently throughout the year. Fluorescent tubes look similar to tube lights but have a much larger diameter, giving off brighter light than CFLs. Thus, they are suitable for commercial applications such as retail stores and other businesses.
Disadvantages of Fluorescent Lamps
The lighting systems became more advanced in recent years hence consumers shifted to better options available. Case in point, you can witness the LED, because of its advantages, replacing these lighting systems. Here are some drawbacks of a fluorescent lamp you should consider.
Fluorescent lamps are costlier than incandescent lights because they have a much higher initial expense due to their energy-saving nature. While it is true that CFLs and tubes use less electricity, the amount you can save through them is in long-term use. Fluorescent bulbs are more costly to produce than incandescent bulbs since they are more complex to create. However, compared to their energy efficiency and longevity, they are arguably less expensive in the long run. LED lights cost more upfront, but their price is projected to drop compared to fluorescent lamps. That’s because manufacturing processes improve and the demand rises.
2. Fluorescent Lamps Contain Toxic Elements
Fluorescent lamps contain mercury, a hazardous material that can be harmful to the environment if bulbs aren’t destroyed or recycled properly. Disposing of old fluorescent lamps in a landfill is not recommended because it can damage the ozone layer. Disposal via recycling centers specializing in hazardous waste management may be more suitable to ensure the safe eradication of mercury.
By safe disposal, you restrict them from harming the environment even if they damage or break during transport. On the other side, unsafe disposal can lead to the release of potentially harmful chemicals into nature. This exposure can pose a danger to wildlife and people alike, especially children who love playing outdoors.
3. Susceptible to Failure
Fluorescent lamps may fail within a few years of use, depending on the quality of the product. Although they are more energy-efficient, CFLs and tubes must be handled carefully to avoid breaking or cracking. Even if they are managed with care, their average lifespan is far smaller than LED bulbs. On average, CFL would last for 10,000 hours, whereas an LED bulb lasts for 50,000 to 100,000 hours.
On the plus side, they don’t contain hazardous elements. If a fluorescent lamp is used frequently, it will age faster than if left on constantly for many years. Fluctuating temperature and other factors affect its lifespan, which may get substantially shorter than that of an LED light bulb. However, if a fluorescent light is kept on uninterruptedly for lengthy periods, its longevity can be extended.
4. They Emit UV Light
Fluorescent lamps emit ultraviolet light, which has links to skin damage. Aging and burning in fabrics, fading in artwork or photographs, and other health issues are linked to exposure to UV lights as well. Based on FDA studies, the fluorescent lamp emits some ultraviolet rays, affecting your skin and internal organs if you are exposed to it for a longer period. UV rays have also been linked to a variety of eye diseases, including cataracts.
Other physicians have suggested that fluorescent light side effects might cause retinal damage, myopia, or astigmatism. Additionally, it may also harm art, such as watercolors and textiles. Artwork must be safeguarded using additional glass or transparent acrylic sheets placed between them and the source of light to prevent deterioration.
5. Environmental Issues with Disposal
From everything we mentioned, you can conclude a drawback of fluorescent lamps involves susceptibility to a chemical leakage that can contaminate the environment. When disposed of in an open environment, it can affect the health of exposed organisms, including humans. A broken lamp can lead to the leaking of small amounts of mercury.
Disposal through recycling centers should always be done by trained professionals wearing protective gear. From transport to the dumping site, professionals must handle the discarded material with care to avoid contamination. Groundwater sources with toxic chemicals from broken bulbs contain mercury too, which may degrade the land forever.