About luminescent lamps in layperson’s terms: their advantages and disadvantages

Optical radiation (ultraviolet, visible, infrared) has a significant positive physiological and psychological effect on a person. Daylight is the most useful. It affects many life processes, metabolism, physical development and health. But the active activity of man continues even when the sun is hiding behind the horizon. Artificial lighting comes in place of daylight. Only incandescent lamps have been used for artificial illumination of homes for years - a thermal light source which spectrum differs from daylight by the predominance of yellow and red radiation and total absence of ultraviolet radiation. In addition, incandescent lamps are inefficient, their efficiency is 6-8%, and the service life is very short - not more than 1,000 hours. High technical level of illumination with these lamps is impossible. That is why the presentation of fluorescent lamps - a discharge light source with a 5-10 times greater light output and 8-15 times longer service life than incandescent lamps - was quite natural. Scientists and engineers when overcoming various technical difficulties, have created special fluorescent lamps for housing - compact, almost completely replicating the usual appearance and dimensions of the incandescent lamp and combining its advantages (compactness, comfortable color rendering, easy maintenance) with the economy of standard fluorescent (or mercury) lamps.

A conventional incandescent lamp converts 92-94% of electricity into heat and only 6-8% — into light, whereas a compact fluorescent lamp, giving the same luminous flux, consumes 80% less electricity. Thus, the efficiency of replacement of incandescent lamps with fluorescent ones is obvious. Also fluorescent lamps have advantages over LED ones, because they have a lower cost, but they are also energy-saving lamps.

Fluorescent lamps have another very important advantage over incandescent lamps due to their physical characteristics: ability to create light of different spectral composition — warm, natural, white, daylight, which can significantly enrich the color palette of the home environment. It is no accident that there are special recommendations for choosing the type of fluorescent lamps depending on the light color for different applications.

The presence of the controlled ultraviolet in special illumination-irradiation fluorescent lamps makes it possible to solve the problem of preventing the "light starvation" for urban residents spending up to 80% of the time in the enclosed spaces. For example, a number of companies produce fluorescent lamps emission spectrum of which is close to solar and saturated with strictly dosed near ultraviolet light. They are successfully used both for lighting and for irradiating of residential, administrative and school premises, especially in the case of insufficient natural light.

For example, in Anchorage (Alaska), fluorescent lamps are recommended by the local health department for offices, children's institutions, since they are the ones that can compensate for the lack of natural light in the Arctic North.

There are also special mercury lamps designed for taking "solar" baths indoors and for other cosmetic purposes. Remember that in order to ensure safety, the instructions of the irradiation equipment manufacturer shall be strictly observed when using these lamps.

Thus, fluorescent lamps that provide enough light in the apartment, thereby preserving vision, reduce fatigue, increase efficiency and raise the mood; in addition, the spectral composition of their radiation easily varies in color. All this makes such lamps extremely attractive to the consumer.

And now let us discuss the shortcomings of fluorescent lighting, to which many assigned its notorious "harmfulness to health." The nature of the gas discharge is such that, as already mentioned above, any fluorescent lamps have a small fraction of the near ultraviolet in the spectrum. It is known that with an overdose of even natural sunlight unpleasant phenomena can arise, in particular, excessive ultraviolet irradiation can lead to skin diseases, eye damage. However, comparing the effects of natural solar and artificial luminescent radiation on a person during the life, we will understand how unreasonable the assumption of the harmful effects of mercury lamp radiation is. It was shown that work during the year (240 working days for 8 hours a day) with artificial lighting with fluorescent lamps of cold white light with a very high illumination level of 1,000 lux (this is 5 times higher than the optimal level of illumination in housing) corresponds to the stay in the open air in Davos (Switzerland) for only 12 days in the summer for one hour a day at noon. It should be noted that the real conditions in living quarters have ten times more reduced impact than in the example given.

Consequently, the harm of conventional fluorescent lighting cannot be said. Similar conclusions were reached by physicians, hygienists and lighting technicians, who took part in an extensive scientific discussion held in Munich on the topic "The Influence of Fluorescent Lamps on Human Health". All the participants in the discussion were unanimous: strict adherence to the rules of a competent lighting device, which include limiting the direct and reflected brilliance, limiting the pulsation of the light flux, providing a favorable distribution of brightness and correct color rendering, completely eliminate existing complaints about the fluorescent lighting.

The question of limiting the light flux pulsation is the important issue in the above list. The fact is that traditional linear (sometimes figured) tubular fluorescent lamps connected to the network using an electromagnetic ballast (most often used in fixtures) create light that is not constant in time, but is "micro-pulsating", i.e. when the alternating current frequency is 50 Hz, the lamp is re-ignited 100 times per second. And although this frequency is higher than the one that is critical for the eye and, consequently, the brightness flickering of the illuminated objects is not detected by the eye, the pulsation of illumination during prolonged exposure can adversely affect a person, causing increased fatigue, reduced efficiency, especially when performing intense visual work: reading, working at a computer, needlework, etc. That is why the single-lamp fixtures with linear lamps, which have appeared for a long time ago, are recommended to be used in the so-called non-working areas of a residential apartment (in anterooms, utility rooms, for lighting the books and other shelves, etc.). In multi-lamp fixtures, this feature of the fluorescent lamps operation is almost completely eliminated, but such fixtures with linear fluorescent lamps are rather bulky, and for local (working) lighting they are just inconvenient. Therefore, it is advisable to use the above-mentioned compact fluorescent lamps for the traditional lighting of housing by chandeliers, wall, floor, table lamps. They are equipped with special electronic ballasts, which negate the harmful effect of light flux pulsation (since they increase the frequency of the current supplying the lamp by 10-100 times).

And, finally, the last little comment related to the fluorescent fixtures operation. A drop of mercury is introduced in the lamp for its operation – 30-40 mg (in compact fluorescent lamps — 2-3 mg, and some types of amalgam compact fluorescent lamps do not contain mercury in its pure form – it is in a bound state), so such lamps are also called mercury lamps. If this frightens you, remember that the thermometer available in each family contains 2 g of this liquid metal. Of course, if the lamp breaks up, we shall act in the same way as we do when we break the thermometer — carefully collect and remove the mercury and cullet.

A fluorescent lamp in housing is not only more economical light source than an incandescent lamp is. Competent fluorescent lighting has many advantages over traditional one:

  • light abundance and color, uniformity of the light flux distribution, especially in the cases of the illumination of extended objects by linear lamps, lesser brightness of the lamps and considerably lower heat release.

Currently, fluorescent lamps have become widespread, because they provide high light output and long life due to the radiation generation due to gas discharge. Today it is almost impossible to find an organization that does not use such lamps. They can be found everywhere: in production workshops, office rooms, canteens.

What a fluorescent lamp is? Fluorescent lamps are low-pressure mercury discharge lamps.

Invisible ultraviolet radiation is formed in them under the influence of electricity in the mercury vapors. The phosphor placed on the inside of the bulb lamp converts this radiation into visible light. Selecting the type of phosphor can change the lightning color of the fluorescent lamps.

Fluorescent lamps or day-light lamps are low-pressure mercury discharge lamps.

Invisible ultraviolet radiation is formed in them under the influence of electricity in the mercury vapors. The phosphor placed on the inside of the bulb of the fluorescent lamp converts this radiation into visible light. Selecting the type of phosphor can change the lightning color of the fluorescent lamps.

Fluorescent lamps are of several types: linear and annular.

Linear fluorescent lamps provide high light output, reduce power consumption and have an extremely long service life (up to 18 times longer service life than that of an incandescent lamp). Such lamps are widely used for lighting industrial and industrial premises, as well as in domestic conditions. Fluorescent lamps have higher efficiency, the spectrum of light emission is the closest to natural light. Therefore, they are often called "day-light lamps".

Ring fluorescent lamps differ from linear ones in their high efficiency with a more even light distribution. Ring lamps are used in square and round fixtures with a special G10q socket.

Mass replacement of incandescent lamps with fluorescent or LED lamps is one of the first measures to improve the energy efficiency of public and private companies, as well as one of the activities in the implementation of projects to develop and implement an environmental management system in accordance with ISO 14001. For example, the project to develop and certify EMS on the international standard ISO 14001 in one of the best business complexes and hotels in Moscow — Moscow-Krasnye Kholmy OJSC in 2006 included the systematic replacement of conventional incandescent lamps with energy-saving fluorescent lamps. As a result, significant energy savings were achieved. Now, Moscow-Krasnye Holmy is the only and the most advanced business complex in Moscow and Russia, where the advanced standard for the environmental management system ISO 14001 is implemented, which makes it possible for MKK OJSC to be an environmental leader among business complexes and hotels in Russia.

An important feature in the operation of fluorescent lamps is their further correct disposal. Residents of private and multi-apartment buildings shall pass the spent fluorescent lamps to management companies that accumulate lamps and give them for processing to the specialized organizations that have licenses for the disposal of mercury-containing wastes. Many of these organizations use fluorescent lamp recycling equipment manufactured by our company. Also, our company itself is directly engaged in the disposal of mercury lamps. We are happy to help clean the planet of mercury pollution! If necessary, please contact our organization, contact details can be found in the section "Contacts".

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