The problems with CFL's and Incandescent Bulbs

Right this instant you are probably enjoying light provided by a CFL or an incandescent bulb. Buying and installing this kind of light sources is an automatic process. It`s popular, you buy it and when it does not work anymore you just go to the store and replace it. Little do people know about the hidden dangers of these light sources and their utter inefficiency, not to mention the way they damage the environment. Let's take each one and see why they are not the best option. Incandescent bulbs have been around for a long time, being quite simple and cheap. While in the past they may have been revolutionary, today they are ineffective and their production will soon be stopped.

Incandescent bulbs have several disadvantages and can`t even compare to, for example, LED lighting:
  • They get very hot, they go even up to 260 degrees Celsius and they can be a hazard for children or even adults.
  • 90% of the electric power is transformed into heat as light is obtained by heating a filament. That means that most of the power is wasted through heat, which also causes other devices (like air conditioners) to work harder and suck up more power
  • They emit substantial amounts of Carbon Dioxide which we already know damages the environment in ways we don`t even begin to realize.
  • Short lifespan of 700-1000 hours. That in practical terms means that in 4 years you will need to replace them at least 7 times (take money out of the pocket at least 7 times).
  • They are sensitive to vibrations and easily breakable and cannot be used near doors, in garages or other places where vibration exists.

Sure, manufacturers strive to create better variations but they are all costly and do not improve the initial concept by a whole lot. CFL are much better than incandescent bulbs and replaced the latter in many places but they are still not quite the best option, even if they can last up to 12000 hours (no match to LEDs, which go up to 200000 hours). What are the problems?

  • They contain mercury, which is highly toxic even in small dosages. That may not affect you directly, but the substance will be eventually released into the environment causing damage and indirectly it will get into your body.
  • Do not work with dimmer switches (reducing the light intensity with just 5% can generate lower electricity costs).
  • The blue-tinted light is not natural and does not show objects in their true color. Many people do not feel comfortable in this light and experience eye fatigue.
  • They do not work well in cold environments; sometimes they do not even start, and need a small time (up to a minute or more) to reach full intensity.
  • They emit a small amount of ultraviolet light, which along with the blue light can damage the skin, paintings, textiles or even cause retinal damage.
  • They are usually large and don't work in pendant lamps or in recessed light fixtures.
  • Can be a fire hazard.
  • The light intensity lowers dramatically over time.

A deep and attentive analysis like this one reveals just how many things we are used to ignore. Fortunately, a better alternative makes both CFL and incandescent bulbs seem utterly irrelevant. The alternative is LED lighting, a known technology that is now applied to public and private lighting. It is ten times more efficient and it is not a threat to the environment or to you.

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