Fluorescent lights make incredibly bright and clean interior lighting that can come in a multitude of colors and uses.
Fluorescent lights are starting to make incandescent light bulbs things of the past thanks to the many advantages that fluorescent lights have over incandescent lights.
The innovative technology that goes into fluorescent lights has helped make them the safer, more energy-efficient option for interior lighting.
Do Fluorescent Lights Get Hot?
Fluorescent lights do not get as warm as their incandescent counterparts.
Fluorescent lights never get hot, but a small amount of heat energy is created when keeping a fluorescent light on.
The reason that incandescent lights get hot and fluorescent lights do not get hot comes from the way the light is being created inside of the bulb or fixture.
How The Light Is Created
Fluorescent lights work vastly differently from incandescent lights.
Fluorescent lights rely heavily on the chemicals inside of them in order to light up.
The mercury vapor inside fluorescent lights is excited by an electrical current, which then creates short-wave ultraviolet light.
This reaction causes the fluorescent light’s internal phosphor coating to glow.
The average fluorescent light’s luminous efficacy is between 30 to 110 lumens per watt.
What Fluorescent Lights Do Best
Fluorescent lights may seem like a bit of a hassle, but they are the lighting solution of the future.
They carry many advantages that incandescent lights just do not offer.
Fluorescent lights are more efficient than incandescent lights.
A 13-watt fluorescent is as efficient as a 60-watt incandescent.
Their efficiency allows them to last vastly longer than incandescent lights, on average, taking five times as long to burn out.
While the measly incandescent can only last about 2,000 hours, a fluorescent light can last about 10,000 hours.
Fluorescent lights save you $75 per year, in energy alone.
By using fluorescent lights, you’re saving money and the environment, as long as you dispose of fluorescent lights properly.
You will also be saving time by not having to run to the store and grab lightbulbs as frequently!
Are Fluorescent Lights Dangerous?
Some may be hesitant to use fluorescent lights due to the mercury inside of them.
According to SCARCE, an environmental education organization, the average fluorescent light contains about four milligrams of mercury gas.
Mercury is extremely toxic and can cause serious damage to your lungs, kidneys, and your entire nervous system.
If a fluorescent light is broken, the mercury gas is released.
However, if the light isn’t broken, then fluorescent lights are perfectly safe to use in your home.
What To Do If A Fluorescent Light Breaks
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has detailed steps on what to do should a fluorescent light break, or any other type of mercury-filled light.
The first step in cleaning up the fluorescent light safely is to make sure that everyone is out of the room, including pets.
You should then open up all of the windows and doors that lead outside to air out the room for a minimum of five to 10 minutes.
Make sure you shut off any central air conditioning or heating, as you do not want the mercury to spread through your house.
Once the room has been cleared and properly prepared, you can grab the tools necessary to clean up the broken bulb.
It is recommended that you have cardboard, sticky tape, damp paper towels or wet wipes, and a glass jar with a metal lid or strong, sealable plastic bag.
When cleaning up the fluorescent light, save vacuuming as a last resort.
Vacuuming will lead to mercury powder or vapor being spread around your house or even getting stuck in your vacuum.
Instead, try your best to use the tape to get up all of the broken pieces of the bulb.
Once you have collected all the shards of the bulb, place them in your glass jar or sealable bag.
Anything you use to clean up the mess should be placed in the glass jar or sealable bag, as well.
These jars or bags should be placed in an outdoor trash container unless your local government says otherwise.
The room should continue to air out for several hours.
Where To Dispose Of Fluorescent Lights
If your local government forbids the disposal of fluorescent lights in residential trash receptacles, there are a few places you may be able to take your unusable fluorescent lights.
The Home Depot and Lowe’s will only accept compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).
Menards will also accept compact fluorescent lamps, but you must take them to the customer service desk.
Places like Batteries Plus Bulbs will accept both compact fluorescent lamps and fluorescent tubes, but they may charge a fee for their disposal.
Phosphor In Fluorescent Lights
Although fluorescent lights are better for your wallet and the environment than incandescent lights, they do have their fair share of disadvantages that come with their use.
Fluorescent lights may be a better option than incandescent, but they are not the superior lighting choice.
Fluorescent lights have two toxic chemicals inside: mercury and phosphor.
While the potential danger of mercury gas is a major concern, the more concerning of the two chemicals is the phosphor that coats the inside of fluorescent lights.
Phosphor can cause chemical burns if it gets on your skin or in your eyes.
If a child or a pet were to ingest the phosphor, this could cause vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain.
You should seek medical help immediately and drink two to three glasses of water.
Consider What You’re Using Fluorescent Lights For
While fluorescent lights last longer than incandescent lights, they don’t handle being turned on and off frequently.
Fluorescent lights are best for extended use followed by extended rest.
That is why many public places like stores and warehouses choose to use fluorescent lights.
The frequent power switching can be too much for fluorescent lights to handle, shortening their lifespan greatly.
Fluorescent lights are not recommended for motion sensors or any lighting situation where they will be activated and deactivated frequently.
A cheap incandescent light or an LED, light-emitting diode, is a better choice for such a job.
Fluorescent Lights Create Wasted Light
Have you ever been in an office or store where there are some spots that feel too bright?
They’re most likely using fluorescent lights, which scatter light in every single direction of the glass bulb, making the light omnidirectional.
While this may seem perfect for some situations, like a photographer’s lighting umbrella, in an office or store setting, only about 60 percent to 70 percent of that fluorescent light is being used.
That means that 30 percent to 40 percent of the light that is being produced is going to waste by over-lighting a place.
Fluorescent Lights’ Effect On Your Health
The clean shine that emits from fluorescent lights is the short-wave, ultraviolet light that helps make fluorescent lights so efficient.
Ultraviolet light can be taxing on your health if you or any of your loved ones have a light sensitivity problem, like chronic migraines or epilepsy.
The lights can also be painful or damaging to those who suffer from retinal damage, astigmatism, or other eye disease or damage.
Many autistic people with environmental sensitivities had their symptoms become worse while exposed to fluorescent lights.
Autistic people can see the 60-flick cycle that fluorescent lights run off of.
This can cause the room to appear as if it is pulsating or turning off and on rapidly.
Many autistic people say that all the stimuli from fluorescent lights can make them feel exhausted.
There have been countless studies on the other ways that fluorescent lights may be affecting your health.
According to professionals at Blink Eyecare, fluorescent light can make it more difficult to focus due to their flickering and the eyestrain they cause.
The Ultraviolet Light Damage To Your Belongings
Not only does ultraviolet light damage your health, but it can slowly deteriorate your belongings as well.
Ultraviolet light will cause the dyes in your goods to fade over time.
It can also break down paint, vinyl, nylon, polypropylene, PVC, polycarbonate, and polystyrene.
Ultraviolet light can even break down rubber.
The amount of time it takes for damage to occur and the intensity of the damage is based on the intensity of the light and how long the object was soaking in the ultraviolet light.
That is the reason that storefronts don’t intend to sell the clothing they have in their brightly lit displays.
There are many ways to keep your belongings safe from ultraviolet light damage.
The way museums keep their collections from getting damaged is by fitting their lights with materials like Plexiglas or Acrylite that filter the ultraviolet light.
The acrylic material is often placed over windows, as well.
Another tactic is to make sure that you’re not placing things that may be sensitive to ultraviolet light damage directly where the light hits the hardest.
Photos, paintings, and textiles are extremely sensitive to ultraviolet light.
Not All Fluorescent Lights Are Created Equal
Over the years, fluorescent lights have gotten much more effective and efficient.
If you are using older fluorescent lights, you may have to wait anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds for your fluorescent lights to warm up and achieve their full brightness.
Modern fluorescent lights use instant start technology.
Modern fluorescent lights use an electric ballast to light the bulb.
The ballast is a magnetic part that regulates the voltage going through the light.
As the fluorescent light is used more and more, the light requires more energy in order to start.
This weakens the ballast, which eventually leads to the fluorescent light’s failure.
The ballast is also what creates fluorescent lights’ infamous buzzing sound.
Once a ballast has taken any damage from use, it will begin to buzz.
The buzz gets louder as the ballast takes more damage from use.
You can avoid the buzz by buying fluorescent lights with high-frequency, electronic ballasts.
Fluorescent Isn’t The Best And Isn’t the Worst
Fluorescent lights may have their concerning factors, but compared to incandescent lights, they are the vastly superior option.
Fluorescent lights use 20 to 40 times less electricity than normal light bulbs.
Although there are many concerns about the mercury used in the fluorescent bulbs, the amount of mercury coming from fluorescent lights is vastly less than the 50 tons of mercury that were released by coal-burning power plants in a single year.
By using energy-efficient lighting solutions like fluorescent lights, the amount of mercury used in their production is smaller than the amount that will be released by coal-burning power plants.
The popularization of LEDs has lowered the cost of fluorescent lights and their installation.
While light-emitting diodes may be the most energy-efficient lighting solution, they may not be in every person’s price range.
Fluorescent lights are the perfect compromise between energy efficiency and cost.NEXT: Why Is Pottery Barn So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)