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Fluorescent

More than likely, you interact with fluorescent lighting on a daily basis. The versatile light bulbs are often used in your office building, your child’s school, and your grocery store.

We will explain how fluorescent light bulbs work, the types of fluorescent light bulbs, and when and where to use them.

How do fluorescent light bulbs work?

There are several different types of fluorescent lighting, but they all function in a similar way.

Fluorescent lighting relies on a chemical reaction inside of a glass tube to create light. That reaction involves gases and mercury vapor interacting. When that happens, an invisible ultraviolet (UV) light is produced. That invisible UV light illuminates the phosphor powder coating the inside of the glass tube, emitting white light. 

It’s important to note that every fluorescent light works off a ballast. If you’re not sure what a ballast is or how it works, we’ve done the hard work for you.

This diagram shows the inside of a linear fluorescent, but the technology is similar for all fluorescents.

Fluorescent Light Diagram

We should note one difference. Some compact fluorescent light bulbs also have an integrated ballast rather than a separate ballast to be installed or maintained. You can learn more about compact fluorescent bulbs here.

Types of fluorescent light bulbs:

The types of fluorescent light bulbs generally relate to the size, shape, and application where you would find the bulb.

  1. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs): These are fluorescent bulbs that come in two forms: Pin-base CFLs and self-ballasted CFLs. Most commercial facilities use pin-based CFLs which require a separate ballast. Self-ballasted CFLs are what you might think of as a spring bulb that can be screwed into a normal light socket.
  2. Linear fluorescent tubes: Linear fluorescents are probably what you think of when someone says fluorescent tubes. Linear fluorescents are commonly found in fixtures in commercial buildings.
  3. Fluorescent bent tubes: These are simply bent versions of the straight linear fluorescent tubes. You’ll commonly find these 2’x2’ troffer fixtures.
  4. Fluorescent circline tubes: Circline fluorescents are simply the circular versions of the straight linear fluorescent tubes. These are becoming rare, but you’ll find them in some ceiling fixtures.

When and where to use fluorescent light bulbs

If you look in your typical office building or hospital hallway, you will find fluorescent light bulbs. The light is not very flattering, but that’s not the intent. The purpose is for clean, consistent lighting.

Here are places where you’ll commonly find fluorescent light bulbs:

  1. Vapor tight fixtures in parking garages or walkway canopies
  2. Strip fixtures in back of house areas or industrial applications
  3. 2’x4’ or 2’x2’ fluorescent troffers in commercial offices, hospitals, schools, and many other industries
  4. Recessed cans, walls sconces, table lamps, and other smaller fixtures (CFL)
  5. High-bay and low-bay fixtures

In most cases, fluorescent light bulbs are the right choice if you’re looking for high-efficiency lighting with lower up-front costs.

Recycling fluorescent light bulbs

Unfortunately, fluorescent light bulbs products contain mercury, so they need to be handled carefully and recycled. Regency Lighting handles several different options for recycling, including recycling boxes ready for purchase.

Questions about fluorescent lighting

If you have any questions about fluorescent light bulbs, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our lighting specialists are always willing to answer your questions. You can send us a message, call us, or use the chat in the bottom right corner of your screen. Click here for more information.

Regency Lighting has been a national lighting distributor since 1983. We have seven distribution centers across the U.S. ready to serve you.

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