Self Ballasted CFLs | Compact Fluorescent CF and Non-Ballasted Lamps
Compact fluorescent energy saving light bulbs (also known as CFL or CF bulbs) are an ideal choice for home or commercial illumination because they use about 80% less energy than incandescent lamps, that emit the same light output. The average life of a CFL light bulb is about 10 times longer than standard incandescent. Each compact fluorescent light bulb can save $40 or more in electricity costs over its lifetime.
Where to use Compact Fluorescents (CFLs)
The United States government's Energy Star program guidelines suggest using compact fluorescent's in open rated fixtures that allow airflow, this allows the lamp to operate cooler and extends the life of the lamp. Examples of open rated fixtures are table and floor lamps, hanging fixtures, wall sconces, and weather resistant outdoor lighting. Compact fluorescent have the greatest average life when they're used in lighting products that operate for more than 15 minutes at a time. They provide the least benefit if they're used in areas which the light is on less time, such as closets.
There is a perception that the quality of light from a compact fluorescent light bulb is not as good as an incandescent lamp. There are several ways to ensure good quality illumination.
Look for the lumen rating of the CFL; the higher the lumen rating, the greater the light output. (What is a lumen? It is a measure of the power of light perceived by the human eye)
Look at the kelvin (K) temperature. Bulbs with a lower K rating (2700K - 3000K) emit a soft, warm light similar to an incandescent and are ideal for areas that you want an inviting atmosphere. Examples of this is dining rooms, living rooms and bedrooms.
CFL's that have a higher K rating (3500K - 6500K) give off a cooler, 3500K CFL's have a whiter light than the 2700K and are considered a neutral color. 4100K emits a bright white light. 5000K bulbs have a white with hints of blue a are ideal for task light and are considered "full spectrum" as closely emulate sun light. 6500K bulbs emit a bluish-white light that perfect for growing plants indoors or task lighting.
Most compact fluorescent lamps may take from 30 seconds to 3 minutes to reach their full brightness after you turn the light bulb on.
Choosing the best CFL for you.
Purchasing the right size CFL lamp, make sure the bulb will fit your applications. Look at the width and height including the socket portion and make sure it will fit your fixture. Make sure the narrowest portion of your fixture will accommodate the CFL. Look at the measurements of the socket. Most CFL's use a standard household (called medium base) sockets, but many higher wattages use a mogul base socket. Mogul sockets are 39mm in width, while medium sockets are 26mm in width.
Selecting the right wattage CFL's for your specific application. A good rule of thumb is use 1/3 the wattage of your incandescent bulb. If you are using a 75W bulb, a 23W or 26W cfl would be ideal. i.e. (75W/3 = 25W CFL).