Frequently Asked Questions

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Questions



  1. What is a compact fluorescent light bulb?  
  2. What is a LED Light bulb?
  3. Where can I use them?
  4. Are they dimmable?
  5. I don't like the color of light that comes out of CFL's. What colors do LED’s come in? What are my options?
  6. Can they be used in ceiling fans?
  7. Can I use them outside?
  8. I heard there's mercury in the compact fluorescent light bulbs I'm being encouraged to use. Is that true?
  9. How much mercury (HG) is in a CFL?
  10. If they have mercury, how are they better for the environment?
  11. Can CFL's be recycled? How do I dispose of them?
  12. Will the mercury get into my home?
  13. What happens if I break one in my home?

 

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb Questions and Answers:

Q - What is a compact fluorescent light bulb?

A - A compact fluorescent light bulb, or CFL, is an energy-efficient bulb that can replace many standard incandescent bulbs. They last 10 times longer, use 75% less energy, and will save you money on your electric bill.

Q - Where can I use them?

A - You can use CFLs to replace many of your incandescent bulbs in your home. CFLs come with standard screw-in bases, as well as candelabra bases for many decorative models. There are a variety of shapes, sizes, and wattages to meet your needs and tastes.

Q - Are they dimmable?

A - Unless it specifically states on the package that it is dimmable, then the answer is NO!

Q - I don't like the color of light that comes out of CFL's. What are my options?

A - CFLs come in a variety of color temperatures, ranging from 2700K to 6400K. The lower the temperature, the "warmer" the color appears (i.e. pink/yellow). The higher the temperature, the "cooler" the color appears (i.e. white/blue).

Q - Can they be used in ceiling fans?

A - There are specific CFLs for ceiling fans, and we recommend using those designed for this application.

Q - Can I use them outside?

A - You can use them in enclosed fixtures outside, but CFLs should not be used in exposed fixtures outdoors.

Q - I heard there's mercury in the compact fluorescent light bulbs I'm being encouraged to use. Is that true?

A - Yes. CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. Mercury is an essential element in CFLs and is what allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. There is currently no substitute for mercury in CFLs.

Q - How much mercury (HG) is in a CFL?

A - . <-- see that dot? That's how much mercury is in a CFL. In fact, manufacturers have set voluntary limits of 5 mg per bulb. By comparison, older home thermometers contain 800 mg to 1,000 mg of mercury, and many manual thermostats contain up to 3,000 mg.

Q - If they have mercury, how are they better for the environment?

A - Utility power plants burn fossil fuels to generate electricity needed to run things in your home, like light bulbs. Fossil fuels - primarily coal - contain mercury, which is released into the air when they are burned. Coal-fired power generation accounts for roughly 40% of the mercury emissions in the US.

Using light bulbs that are more energy-efficient, like CFLs, require less electricity to be generated by power plants, thereby reducing the plants' mercury emissions. A coal-fired power plant will emit close to 15 mg of mercury to produce the electricity required to run an incandescent light bulb, compared to less than 5 mg for a CFL.

Airborne mercury poses a very low risk of exposure. However, when mercury emissions deposit into lakes and oceans, they can transform into a highly toxic form that builds up in fish, which is the most common pathway for human exposure to mercury.

Q - Can CFL's be recycled? How do I dispose of them?

A - Florida Bulb & Ballast, Inc. offers a complete recycle program; please click here to read more.  You also can take them to your local hazardous waste collection center, just like you would with your used batteries or household chemicals.

Q - Will the mercury get into my home?

A - Not unless the bulb is broken. The mercury is contained within the glass tube and will not be released unless the bulb is broken.

Q - What happens if I break one in my home?

A - Please review the following. . .

The ENERGY STAR program recommends the following. . .

  • Click here
  • Because there is such a small amount of mercury in CFLs, your greatest risk if a bulb breaks is getting cut from glass shards.
  • Sweep up - don't vacuum - all of the glass fragments and fine particles.
  • Place broken pieces in a sealed plastic bag and wipe the area with a damp paper towel to pick up any stray shards of glass or fine particles. Put the used towel in the plastic bag as well.
  • If weather permits, open windows to allow the room to ventilate.

The US EPA's Mercury Spill Site recommends. . .

  • Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes.
  • Pick up all pieces you can without a vacuum cleaner and place in a sealable plastic bag.
  • Wash your hands.
  • The first time you vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag once done cleaning the area (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag and/or vacuum debris, as well as the cleaning materials, in 2 sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

 

LED Questions and Answers:


Q - What is LED Lighting Technology?

A - A Light-Emitting Diode (LED) is a semiconductor light source. LED’s are used as a lighting source come in various modern versions that are available across the visible, ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths, with very high brightness.

Q - Where can I use them?

A - LED’s come in various shapes and sizes to replace standard Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent, Halogen-including Par20, Par30 & Par38, MR16 and Decorative bulbs. They come in candelabra (E12), medium (Edison E26) and GU5.3 bi-pin and GU10 bases. More designs are in production.

*Yes, they can be used in ceiling fans, chandeliers, sconce lights and outdoor decorative fixtures that are enclosed.

Q - How do LED’s emit color?

A - The LED is based on the semiconductor diode. When the diode is switched on, electrons are able to recombine with holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence and the color of the light, (corresponding to the energy of the photon), is determined by the energy gap of the semiconductor. Colors available are:

  • 2700K,3000K, 4000K, 5000K, 6500K, Red & Amber (More colors are in production)

Q - Do LED’s get hot?

A - LED’s can get warm, but usually not hot. They are built with metal “fins” that absorb and dispel the heat away from the source.

Q - Are LED’s as bright as an Incandescent or Compact Fluorescent light bulb?

A - A standard 40 watt A19 bulb is 460 lumens, an equivalent CFL 11 watt lamp is 480 lumens, an LED 8 watt A19 bulb is 425 lumens.

Q - How much more expensive are LED’s versus Incandescent and CFLs?

A - A standard 40 watt A19 bulb is approximately $0.39 each for brass base, 130V, 5,000 hour life.

A CFL 11 watt is approximately $2.49 each for 120V, 10,000 hour life. An LED 8watt A19 is approximately $19.95 each for 120V, 50,000 hour life.

Q - When will Incandescent light bulbs be phased out?

A - Phasing will start in 2012 and finish by 2014. At that point you must either purchase CFL’s or LED’s to replace them.

 

See FAQ’s for Incandescent phase out