Energy saving lamps – details

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In this Article: The History of the Compact Fluorescent Lamp its structure and principle of operation; the spectrum of an energy-saving lamp depends on the composition of the phosphor; the pros and cons of energy saving fluorescent lamps; how to choose an energy saving lamp.

Energy-saving lamps

The ban on the sale and production of incandescent lamps that we are used to in Russia has generated a number of persistent rumors around energy-saving lamps. For an ordinary consumer, as you and I are, the main task of lighting devices has been and remains the very quality of lighting. And, of course, I don’t want to bear the extra costs of purchasing these “newfangled” lamps, because they cost much more than “Ilyich’s lamps”. Consider the characteristics of energy-saving lamps in this article..

History of creation

Officially, the first fluorescent or, as it is also called, fluorescent lamp was created at the beginning of the last century by an engineer-inventor from the United States, Peter Cooper Hewitt, who received a patent for it on September 17, 1901. Although some researchers dispute his primacy in invention, calling the little-known German physicist Martin Arons, who experimented with mercury lamps at the end of the 19th century, as the “father” of the fluorescent lamp.

The fluorescent lamp invented and patented by Hewitt contained mercury, the vapors of which were heated by an electric current passed through it. The Hewitt lamp was spherical and slightly curved, it gave more light than the Lodygin-Edison lamps, but this light was bluish-green, unpleasant to the eye. For this reason, the first mercury lamps were used only by photographers and were not widely used..

Energy-saving lamps
Peter Cooper Hewitt. 1861-1921

The fluorescent lamp in its almost modern form was created by a group of German inventors led by Edmund Germer, who patented their invention on December 10, 1926. It was Germer who came up with the idea to apply a fluorescent coating to the glass surface of the lamp from the inside, which converts the ultraviolet glow of the mercury lamp into white light that does not cut the eye. Albert Hull, an engineer at General Electric, developed a similarly coated fluorescent lamp by early 1927, but the company was forced to acquire a patent from Edmund Germer, who had issued it earlier..

Since the acquisition of Germer’s patent, General Electric engineers have actively embarked on improving fluorescent lamps, trying to bring them to mass production. To reduce the size of the bulb, round and U-shaped lamps were created, shown at the GE booth at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, compact spiral bulb lamps designed by General Electric engineer Edward Hammer in 1976. However, spiral fluorescent lamps never went into production in the 1980s, as company executives considered the costs of building new factories excessive. In 1995, Chinese manufacturers took advantage of General Electric’s sluggishness by launching energy-saving spiral bulbs..

Fluorescent Lamp
Edward Hammer with his invention – a compact spiral bulb

The Magnetic Ballast (SL) screw-in lamp was developed by Philips in 1980 and was the first fluorescent lamp of its kind to compete with incandescent lamps. An energy-saving lamp with electronic ballast (CFL) in 1985 was first demonstrated by the German concern “Osram”.

How an energy-saving lamp works and works

The main structural elements of a fluorescent lamp are a bulb, electronic ballast and a base. A threaded base for screwing into the lamp holder and with contacts for its power supply practically does not differ from the base of a conventional incandescent lamp.

How an energy-saving lamp works and works

The curved bulb of a fluorescent lamp is covered with layers of phosphor, filled with an inert gas and, in a small amount, with mercury vapor – their ionization and causes the lamp to glow when the power is connected. The mercury content in fluorescent lamps ranges from 1 to 70 mg. Inside the flask are tungsten electrodes coated with a mixture of oxides of barium, calcium, zinc and strontium. The phosphor applied to the inner surface of the glass bulb in compact fluorescent lamps contains alkaline earth metals, and therefore 40% more expensive than the phosphors used in elongated fluorescent lamps for ceiling luminaires. Alkaline earth metals in the composition of the phosphor of compact lamps provide operation at high irradiation intensity, thanks to them it became possible to reduce the diameter of the lamp bulb. The fancifully curved shape of the bulb in fluorescent lamps makes it possible to reduce its length by dividing it into several short, communicating sections.

The lamps themselves, coated with a phosphor and containing mercury vapor, will not work when the power is connected – a ballast starter is required, built into the lamp between the base and the bulb. By consuming high frequency current of about 50 kHz, electronic ballast (CFL) eliminates the flickering effect of energy-saving lamps while increasing light output. The electronic ballast increases the high-frequency current for itself – it contains an inverter in its circuit. Also, the tasks of the ballast include heating the electrodes and maintaining the power of the fluorescent lamp at a nominal level, regardless of voltage drops in the network. The service life of the energy-saving lamp depends on how well the electronic ballast is made..

How an energy-saving lamp works and works

How does a fluorescent lamp work? Applying power causes a discharge between the electrodes, the current passes through a mixture of inert gas and mercury vapor, fast electrons collide with slow mercury atoms – the lamp is ignited. However, 98% of the light emitted by an energy-saving lamp is ultraviolet, which is invisible to human eyes. And the visible light coming from it is provided by the phosphor layers, which glow under the influence of ultraviolet radiation. The color of lighting produced by fluorescent lamps depends on the chemical composition of the phosphor applied to the glass bulb from the inside..

Dependence of the visible spectrum of a fluorescent lamp on a phosphor

The light generated by cheap energy-saving lamps is most often unpleasant for the eyes – its spectrum is dominated by blue and yellow colors, as a result the color of objects in the illuminated room is unnatural. The reasons lie in the type of phosphor containing inexpensive calcium halophosphate. Such lamps, having a high luminous efficiency, are intended for illumination of non-residential premises (warehouses, etc.) – they externally produce white light, but its reflection from objects reveals an incomplete spectrum (no red and green colors).

Energy-saving lamps

Energy saving lamps for home lighting have a higher price because the phosphor in them creates 3-5 color bands (for example, red, green and blue) from the spectrum visible to the human eye and simulates the effect of natural light, but at the same time reduces the light output.

Energy saving lamp characteristics

It should be noted right away that the below positive characteristics depend on the manufacturer of this lamp – his desire to save on raw materials and components seriously reduces the quality and life of fluorescent lamps.

prosenergy saving lamps:

  • significantly lower, in comparison with incandescent lamps, power consumption with higher light output. If a 100 W incandescent lamp has a light output of 100-150 lumens, then the light output of a 20 W fluorescent lamp will be 1,100-2,000 lumens – the difference is obvious. Low power consumption of energy-saving lamps, among other things, significantly reduces the load on the wiring;
  • significant service life, 8-10 times longer than incandescent lamps. When working on average 2.5-3 hours a day, a fluorescent lamp will illuminate a room for 8,000-11,000 hours and will last for several years (depending on the model and manufacturer), about 6-8 times longer than the usual “Ilyich lamp”;
  • during the entire period of operation, the intensity of illumination by compact fluorescent lamps does not change;
  • the highest temperature of a working energy-saving lamp will not exceed 60 ° C. 95% of the energy in incandescent lamps is used for heating, i.e. at a power of 100 W, the incandescent lamp will heat up to 95 ° C;
  • lamps of several light shades of illumination are produced, the main ones are warm daylight (similar to the color of lighting from incandescent lamps), daylight and cold daylight;
  • there is no flicker in the produced luminous flux (stroboscopic effect), the stability of illumination is provided by the electronic ballast of the lamp;
  • factory warranty from the manufacturer for each energy-saving lamp. There were never any guarantees for the “Ilyich lamps”.

Minusesenergy saving lamps:

  • high price. If incandescent lamps cost 10-25 rubles, then fluorescent lamps will cost 80-400 rubles. Chinese and domestic energy-saving lamps are cheaper, European ones are more expensive;
  • the protrusion on the base, where the lamp ballast is located, sometimes interferes with its installation. A lamp with electronic ballast does not look even when installed in a chandelier, because the base is too visible;
  • these lamps take from 30 seconds to two minutes to warm up to full brightness of light emission;
  • The service life of compact fluorescent lamps depends on the frequency of switching on and off the power – the more often this happens, the faster the lamp will fail. Between disconnecting and reconnecting, it is necessary to maintain a pause of at least 5 minutes;
  • such lamps should not be used by people with skin diseases and epilepsy, because the lighting intensity of energy-saving lamps is higher than usual and can lead to negative consequences;
  • Do not break the glass bulb of the lamp, because mercury vapors will enter the premises and will have to be ventilated for several hours at any time of the year, and residents will need to leave the premises of the house (apartment) for the entire ventilation period – this is important. If several lamps are broken at once, you will need to call the Ministry of Emergency Situations specialists to carry out demercurization. Do not break fluorescent lamps;
  • it is not at all clear how to dispose of out-of-order fluorescent lamps – it is forbidden to dispose of them for scrap, and there are no specialized collection points in most settlements.

How to choose an energy saving lamp

First of all, make sure of the integrity of the lamp offered by the seller, the reliable connection of the bulb with the base – lamps of small Chinese manufacturers, assembled by hand, usually sin with a loose connection.

The power of a new lamp is determined by the power of incandescent lamps previously used in a given room with a decrease of 4-5 times. Those. if you used “Ilyich lamps” of 100 W – you will need a 20-25 W fluorescent lamp (it is better to take with a small power reserve).

Energy saving lamp characteristics

The illumination intensity of this lamp is determined in terms of the temperature on the Kelvin scale indicated on its packaging: from 2,700 to 4,000 oK – warm light (analogue of light from incandescent lamps), such lamps are suitable for lighting bedrooms and kitchens; from 4000 to 5000 oK – warm white light, suitable for living rooms and halls; from 6,000 to 6,500 oK – cold white light, used for classrooms and offices. Lamps of the latter type for lighting houses should not be purchased – the light is too saturated, difficult to tolerate.

Lamp size. The base of fluorescent lamps, as noted above, has a greater length than the base of incandescent lamps – for home lighting, the base of the E27 standard (length – 105 mm, diameter – 60 mm), the dimensions of which are similar to the sockets for “Ilyich lamps”.

Warranty and operational service life. They are indicated by the manufacturers on the packaging: the optimal operational life is in the range of 6,000-12,000 hours; warranty – from a year and up. Please note that not all brands of fluorescent lamps will have the stated terms valid – Chinese manufacturers may indicate high terms, but in fact the lamps will fail much earlier.

Manufacturers and brands. On the Russian market there are energy-saving lamps of European brands – German “Osram” and “Wolta”, Dutch “Philips”, Danish “Comtech”, Polish “Ikea”, American “General Electric”; Russian – “Ecola”, “Cosmos”, “Aladin”, “Lisma”, “Uniel”; Chinese – “Camelion”, “Navigator”, etc. Of course, the products of the largest European manufacturers are of high quality and performance, but it is worth noting that domestic compact fluorescent lamps also have good quality at a lower cost.

In custody

As you can see from this article, fluorescent lamps really save energy and serve properly, provided that the requirements for their operation are met. The high cost and some content of mercury vapors, of course, remain a problem for consumers, but manufacturers are trying to solve them – for example, in modern models of energy-saving lamps, mercury is bound by calcium amalgam and will not evaporate, according to manufacturers, if the lamp is damaged.

Another way to save energy and ensure that mercury vapor does not enter your home is to use LED lamps, but this topic is for a separate article..

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