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- Current flows through an atmosphere of inert gas and mercury vapor, producing ultraviolet energy that is invisible to the human eye. A phosphor coating on the inside of the tube transforms the ultraviolet energy into visible light.
- Fluorescent bulbs can vary from straight tubes 6" to 96" long to U-shaped tubes and circular tubes. Wattages for home use range from 4 to 75 watts.
- Tubes also come in a variety of diameters. Several common types are available in reduced-wattage versions that consume 15 percent to 20 percent less energy. The most common tube is the 1-1/2" used in most bulbs from 15" to 96" long. The smallest diameter is 1/2", used in low-wattage twin tube designs. The largest is 2-1/8" used for some high-wattage, non-residential installations.
- Produce up to 105 lumens per watt, compared with a 100-watt, type A incandescent, which produces around 18 lumens per watt.
- Features include a long lamp life, relatively low brightness and low heat content and glare, compared with incandescent lamps.
- Fluorescents work well for area lighting, especially in kitchen, bath and task areas.
- Available in many shades of white and colors. Color is determined by the type of phosphor used in the bulb. Soft white fluorescent bulbs are recommended for living areas, baths and kitchens since they offer good color rendering. Warm white bulbs are good for living areas, although not in areas where color discrimination is important. Cool white bulbs are used for work areas.
- Use a ballast. Dim only with special equipment that is relatively expensive. Standard household fluorescents are also sensitive to temperature, and therefore work best indoors. High-output fluorescents are for outdoor use and commercial application.
- Ballasts have sound ratings— “A” is the quietest; “C” is the loudest. Often noise made by fluorescent fixtures can be reduced by replacing the ballast.
- Electrical connections to the bulbs are made to the bases at each end. The most common is the two-pin base, designated miniature bi-pin for small diameter bulbs, medium bi-pin for average size bulbs and the mogul bi-pin for industrial bulbs. Single-pin bases are used for instant start bulbs, and recessed double contact bases are used on rapid–start bulbs longer than 48".
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