When You Shouldn't Use CFL Bulbs

When You Shouldn't Use CFL Bulbs

Taryn Williford
Oct 17, 2011

We're all sponges. When news outlets and home blogs tell us that switching to CFLs is going to use less energy and save us all money, we soak the information up and treat it as home lighting bible. But some light fixtures might actually be worse off when using them with CFL bulbs. Here's how you know.

Because of the electronic circuitry, CFL bulbs have a maximum ambient temperature requirement. Manufacturers suggest that the temperature around your CFLs should stay as low as possible, and by no means should the ambient temperature exceed 122°F (50°C).

That shouldn't be a problem, right? I mean, even if the bulb is outside on the hottest day in the deserts of Arizona, it should still hover right around that 122 degree cutoff, yes? Well, maybe not. If your CFL is inside of a closed or poorly-vented light fixture, it could spell trouble for the longevity of your bulbs.

While it's miniscule compared to incandescent bulbs, CFL bulbs do give off a small amount of heat. When they're used in a closed fixture or a fixture without sufficient ventilation, that small amount of heat is trapped and could fry your CFL bulb. The result is a bulb that burns out before its lifespan, wasting your time and hard-earned money.

(Images: Flickr member TF28 | tfaltings.de licensed for use under Creative Commons; Flickr member jonathan.youngblood licensed for use under Creative Commons; Rod Elliott, sound.westhost.com)

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