Transitioning from incandescent to CFL and LED lighting
Transitioning from Incandescent to CFL and LED Lighting<br />As Simple as Changing Bulbs?<br />Underwriters Laboratories<br />
The Push Toward Energy Efficiency<br />Energy efficiency and cost effectiveness are driving the transition from incandescent bulbs to CFL and LED lighting.<br />Issues with proper usage and safety concerns cause uncertainty among some consumers contemplating a switch.<br />The evolution to CFL and, eventually, LED lighting is the result of nationwide efficiency initiatives coupled with drops in consumer costs.<br />These newer technologies differ significantly in their electrical properties from incandescent lighting, but are required to function in homes and businesses via hardware designed for older technology.<br />
From Incandescent to LED<br />Incandescent light sources have been in use for 125 years<br />The CFL/LED movement represents the biggest leap forward in this technology since electric bulbs replaced gas lamps and candles.<br />Fluorescent lighting first appeared in 1939. The bulbs use a gas discharge combined with mercury vapor to convert electrical power into light more efficiently than incandescents.<br />LED lighting may have an even more promising future as it approaches greater economic and commercial viability. LED’s are characterized by long life spans and significantly decreased power usage.<br />
Making Strides: Energy Efficiency<br />In recent years, the escalating push toward greater energy efficiency has placed the newer lighting technologies front-and-center. Additional impetus is now coming from jurisdictions such as the State of California, which encourages the combination of higher efficiency lighting with lighting controls designed to reduce energy use. Furthermore, the country of Australia has taken the step of mandating the replacement of all incandescent bulbs with CFLs in 2010.<br />
Reliability and Safety Issues<br />The dramatic growth of CFL technology has resulted in more consumer complaints surrounding CFL installation.<br />Most lighting controls are built for use with incandescents. Many are incompatible with CFLs, resulting in performance issues.<br />Although UL traditionally has not addressed these performance issues, it became apparent that confirming these incompatibilities would not result in fires, shock or other unsafe conditions was necessary in easing the worries of consumers.<br />
UL Testing and Results<br />UL identified four issues/areas for initial study.<br />Issues <br />Results<br />CFL/lighting controls compatibility<br />Potential controller contact damage due to high inrush currents<br />The substitution of CFLs into light fixtures intended for incandescent lamps<br />Accurate load modeling for UL 508, the standard of safety for industrial control equipment<br />Substitution into existing fixtures will result in lower temperatures<br />CFL lifespan may be reduced when used in fixtures where switches are turned off and on repeatedly<br />Contact damage is not significant due to the high inrush currents<br />The requirements of UL 508 for electronic ballasts are appropriate for self-ballasted lamps<br />
Takeaways<br />In summary, UL’s testing and analysis confirmed that current-production CFL lamps are performing well, with no observed safety hazards. Additionally, the study found that consumers may be able to use CFLs more broadly and safely than previously believed.<br />
Conclusion: Still Work to Be Done<br />Compatibility issues can lead to annoying flickering and noise (results showed no indications of fire, shock or hazard, however)<br />Potential incompatibility of CFL lamps with incandescent lighting controllers is a purchasing deterrent in the marketplace<br />Manufacturers should continue to address consumer needs, and must work toward integrating CFLs and LEDs seamlessly with existing technology<br />
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