Fluorescent Light Bulbs


The Pros

    A 20 watt fluorescent bulb puts out just as much light as a standard 100 watt incandescent bulb (approx. 1500 lumens). In fact, most people think this 20W bulb is brighter than a 100W bulb. This is because a fluorescent bulb gives off light that is whiter (evenly spread across the whole visible spectrum) as compared to a regular bulb giving off a more “yellowish” light.

     Some of these bulbs show on the box a greater range of operating temperatures (-30ºC to 40ºC) than older designs of fluorescent bulbs, but please still look at “Cons” below regarding this.

     Because of their long life, these bulbs are especially well suited to places that are hard to reach to change bulbs.

     By far the biggest benefit is the money you will save. I’ve put together a little cost comparison at the bottom of the page for you, because most of the time people are scared away from fluorescent bulbs because of the initial cost. Just to let you know, up until last year I was buying these bulbs at about $22 each, but Ikea (no, really, I’m serious, IKEA!) is selling 20W bulbs at $7.50 each! All of the calculations are based on 6000 hours of operation time, which is the approximate lifetime of one fluorescent bulb.


The Cons

     There are drawbacks to everything, and fluorescent bulbs are no exception. But the pros heavily outweigh the cons in my opinion.

     First, although the operating temperature of some of the bulbs (like the Sylvania brand) is listed as -30ºC to 40ºC, these bulbs will not operate as well at low temperatures (anything dipping below about 7ºC). They will take a while to come on and will not be as bright. They will also not last as long. I would not recommend using these bulbs anywhere outdoors, even in the summer time. Related to this, these bulbs are very sensitive to weather. Some compact fluorescents say on their boxes that you can use them in enclosed outdoor fixtures, but I would highly discourage this! The ones at Ikea are for indoor use only. I wouldn’t suggest using them in bathrooms, since in my experience the high humidity causes them to burn out sooner.

     Second, some designs of bulbs do not instantly come on when the switch is flicked. It takes a couple seconds for them to “warm up.” This is because the ballast has to step up the voltage a bit, and that takes a couple of seconds.

     Third, these bulbs are using some delicate electronics. It’s not like you can throw regular bulbs against a wall and expect them to work, but fluorescent bulbs are more susceptible to damage. Always check all bulbs you buy to make sure they haven’t been damaged in transit. Don’t use in fixtures that may get bumped around a bit. Never use these bulbs in an emergency lighting system.

     Fourth, because of the high voltage that all fluorescent bulbs use, there are cases of these bulbs interfering with radio, TV, cordless phones, and other such signals. In my personal experience (with these bulbs all over my home), I have never had any such interference… never! 

     Finally, I will agree that it takes a while for the savings to make up for the initial cost. Still, the fact is they do! And the whole time you’re using these bulbs, you’re not just saving money, you’re saving power too, and that’s good for all of us!



100 Watt Incandescent Bulb

·         Initial Cost of six bulbs (lifetime of 1000 h each) – $4

·         Power bill over 6000 hours at 7¢/kWh – $42.00

·         TOTAL COST – $46.00


20 Watt Fluorescent Bulb

·          Initial Cost of one bulb (lifetime of 6000 h) – $7.50

·          Power bill over 6000 hours at 7¢/kWh – $8.40

·          TOTAL COST – $15.90




As the graph shows, after about 700 hours of use you are starting to save money!


Available at Ikea for $7.50 each

Ikea” 20 Watt Compact Tubular Fluorescent

Product #80357-20B (inside tab of box)

UPC Code 704.014.00


Please e-mail with any further questions you may have at bclintbe@telusplanet.net.