The Problem With CFLs
A popular lighting solution because of its affordability and relatively long lifespan, the compact fluorescent light (CFL) continues to be a fixture in many homes, schools, offices, and commercial and industrial establishments around the world. First developed in the 80s, CFLs feature a solid-state ballast that’s more long-lived, not to mention quieter, than ordinary fluorescent bulbs. However, CFLs come with specific problems and disadvantages, which we’ve outlined below.
Weather Resistance CFL Light Bulbs are highly susceptible to the weather. In cold environments, CFLs can experience a loss in brightness, making them a poor choice for unheated garages, carports, workshops, and other similar spaces with little to no heating. As you may have surmised, this also makes CFLs poorly suited for outdoor lighting.
Warm Up Times Unlike LED light bulbs, which emit their full brightness the second they’re switched on, CFLs tend to take longer—as much as 15 to 30 seconds—to generate their maximum brightness. Once the light bulb is switched on, it glows at a steady rate, repeating the process if it’s switched off for more than a few minutes. If the ballast or bulb shows signs of failure, it will flicker like ordinary fluorescent tubes and light bulbs.
Dimming Compatibility The engineering of a CFL often makes it incompatible with dimming controllers, devices that allow you to dim and soften the light generated by a bulb.
Flickering Although they still work, CFLs tend to flicker when nearing their average rated lifespan. This can be unpleasant for environments that require bright and steady light.
Mercury Like all other types of fluorescent tubes and lamps, CFLs contain mercury, a crucial component in the process of fluorescence, where it works with phosphorous to emit a glow. The presence of mercury also means that CFLs are trickier to dispose of next to other light bulb types.