CFL Bulbs - What are they?
CFL is an abbreviation for Compact Fluorescent Lamps. This is the same basic technology as used in all fluorescent lamps, but in a more compact form with built-in electronics. In essence they are the same as the typical overhead fluorescent tubes that have been used around the world for decades, so should not cause any more concern than the average strip lighting used in offices, kitchens, workshops, shopping malls and elsewhere around the world.
How do they work?
The technology was first used in the 1890's so it is actually not quite as modern as it sounds. An electrical current is passed through a gas filled tube, and this creates ultraviolet light. The ultraviolet light then excites phosphor coatings on the glass tube, and this in turn produces the visible light. The full spectrum (daylight) bulbs sold by Androv Medical use more expensive and multiple coatings of phosphors to produce a more balanced light that emits a wider range of wavelengths. We also ensure that the phosphor coatings actually block almost all the potential UV rays that could be considered harmful - although as discussed elsewhere on this website, we do not consider all UV light to be harmful. The only downside with these extra phosphor coatings is that the LUMENS output (the brightness) for a full spectrum Androv Medical bulb is slightly lower than the equivalent cheaper bulb. So when you upgrade to our bulbs you might find for example that our 32 Watt bulbs are not quite as bright as a standard 32 Watt CFL bulb from the supermarket - but you should certainly notice a much better quality of white light.
Aren't these new bulbs ugly?
Well, here at Androv Medical, we actually think many of the helix (spiral) designs to be rather elegant, and in truth it is really just that we have all become used to the standard pear-shaped incandescent bulbs. The newest CFL bulbs take up almost the same size as the bulbs they are replacing, and so it is really just a case of society becoming used to these different bulbs. We don't consider the new bulbs to be uglier - just different! However we will from August 2009 also be stocking some "traditional" style CFL bulbs, and these are designed to look just like older incandescent bulbs. This is achieved by adding a second cover over the CFL tube, and also acts to offer extra protection against breakages.
Are there some new laws about bulbs?
Yes, the new European Regulations start coming into force from September 1st 2009 and over the next few years these will effectively make incandescent bulbs "not fit for sale" across Europe. Any existing stocks in shops or your home can still be used, but nobody will be allowed to manufacture new replacement incandescent bulbs, except for special usages such as in fridges, or for medical use etc. There are also discussions as to whether these might also be available under prescription for the small number of people that are hypersensitive to all types of fluorescent lighting.
I don't like the light from CFL bulbs!
We appreciate that the light from standard CFL bulbs can be harsh and "peak" at certain very narrow wavelengths of light. We recommend trying the latest daylight bulbs from Androv Medical, and we are confident that you won't ever want to go back to wanting the typical hot yellow light produced by standard incandescent bulbs, or the harsh light from cheap CFL bulbs. Our bulbs have been engineered to produce a light that is as close to natural daylight as possible. This means you get better contrast and better colours. As a quick test we ask customers to look at a colour magazine under standard lighting, and then view the same under one of our full spectrum bulbs! We are sure you will appreciate the difference.
Don't these bulbs buzz?
All CFL bulbs have electronics integrated into the base to lower the 230 Volts to the correct voltage to power the lamps. We work hard to ensure that our bulbs are the highest quality and as quiet as possible and there should be no audible noise from our CFL bulbs. If you find one that does make a noise, then please return to us for exchange.
I need dimmable bulbs!
We shall very soon have full spectrum dimmable bulbs available for sale, probably from July 2009. These will operate with both the older variable resistor dimmer switches and also the more modern electronic dimmer switches. We would however recommend that customers upgrade to only using electronic dimmers because they are safer (do not produce heat), they are quieter (do not buzz), and are cheaper to run (older units waste power).
What does CRI mean?
CRI is the Colour Rendering Index, and also sometimes referred to as Ra, or Color Rendition Index. It is a little complicated, but in simple terms you want a bulbs with a high CRI to replicate sunlight as closely as possible. 100 is a theoretical maximum, so we consider any bulbs with a CRI of 90 or greater to be a "full spectrum" unit. Typical CFL bulbs often only have a CRI around 80 which reflects their limited output of wavelengths, and means you will see some colours artifically distorted. You can read more on the subject here:
What is the Colour Temperature?
Colour temperature of a bulb really refers to the colour. A yellowish bulb will have a colour temperature of around 3000k and daylight of course also varies but something around 5500k is considered the same as a sunny day at midday. As you go higher towards 6000k the light becomes a little "bluer" in output. Most people have grown up used to the yellowish light from incandescent bulbs, when there was no choice! Now it is possible to purchase CFL bulbs in a whole range of different colour temperatures, but here at Androv Medical we concentrate on the 5500k to 6000k range because this is closest to natural daylight and therefore better for colours and contrast. Our daylight bulbs are therefore very popular with photographers and others that deal with accurate colours on a daily basis. It can take customers a few days to adjust to the "white" light of daylight bulbs, and they can at first seem a little clinical - although we are confident that you will not wish to return to yellow bulbs in the future.
What if I break one in my home?
It is true that all CFL tubes contain very small traces of mercury, which is a potentially harmful heavy metal. If you break a bulb in the home then it is recommended to open the windows and dispose of the broken unit carefully. Official advice from the Department of the Environment states that if a low-energy bulb is smashed, the room should be vacated for at least 15 minutes. A vacuum cleaner should not be used to clear up the debris, and care should be taken not to inhale the dust. Instead, rubber gloves should be used, and the broken bulb put into a sealed plastic bag - which should be taken to the local council for disposal. You should find a WEEE recycling point at your local waste disposal dump.