The Truth About CFL Bulbs

30 November 2015
 Categories: , Blog


Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are economical because they use less energy, save money, and reduce the amount of light changes. They are also kind to Mother Nature because it produces lower greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate changes. CFLs have the Energy Star approval label. Energy Star states the bulb as met the guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

CFLs Specifications Include:

Average life expectancy 10,000 hours

Average cost $2.00 - $20.00

Average Wattage 9W to 52 W

History has indicated a comparison between incandescent lighting and compact fluorescent lighting. In December 2007, Congress passed an energy bill for standards not met by the older incandescent light bulb. The new standards began the phasing stage in 2012, and became fully effective in 2014 so consumers could be accustomed to the changes. In Australia, a ban was announced in 2010 of all incandescent bulbs.

How CFLs Work

A tube allows electric current to connect but it also contains  a minute amount of mercury vapor and argon. They require a bit more energy when first switched on, but use 70% less than incandescent bulbs. The process takes a bit longer than others to fully light (30 seconds to 3 minutes). The unique design takes longer to warm up, but have shown improvement with the use of electronic ballasts that do not hum or buzz.

High standards are set for the brightness, energy use, color, and capping of the mercury used in the bulb. Warranties are effective for two years, so keep the receipts. The bulb can be used indoors or outdoors, but read the labels before you purchase the product to ensure you have the correct bulb for the job.

Recycle and Breakage of CFLs

It is advised to recycle CFLs because of the mercury. When thrown into regular garbage, the bulb will break and mercury will be released into the environment.

If a bulb is broken, be sure to pick up all the pieces and wipe the area clean with a wet towel. Check with your local area to decide whether to place it in the regular garbage or if it has to be taken to a recycling center. However, they are durable and in the future you may have the added benefit of receiving a deposit back when returned to the purchasing location.


Dimmer switch lights and three-way bulbs require the use of a special CFL bulb made for those specific jobs. Be sure to check the packaging before you purchase the product.

For more information, contact a certified residential electrician.