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Out with Fluorescents and in with LEDs

By Ryan Iversen on 02/14/2019


Out with Fluorescents and in with LEDs

For many years, fluorescent lights have been used widely for not only commercial use, but also in people’s homes where they needed light to help them focus on their tasks. As technology progresses, it seems that this century-old lighting will keep up and stand the test of time. Or will it? Recent technological developments and economic shifts are now pushing this lighting into obsolescence and leading this is LEDs.

To find out why and how this is happening, we need to look closely at fluorescent lights and see the downsides that are making them lose to newer and newer models of LED lights. Both major and minor, these downsides are now the metaphorical Achilles heel in the long term use of fluorescent lights as a source of illumination.

One of, if not the most obvious reasons as to why fluorescents are falling out of use is that they contain toxic mercury and the phosphor coating on the inside of the bulb is toxic as well. These hazardous substances are the reason why fluorescent lights need to be disposed of in a very specific way. If the light is damaged by mishandling or accident, it will release dangerous mercury vapor that is hazardous to your health. These lights also release a small amount of UV radiation as well. While the amount release isn’t enough to cause you harm, it is still enough to fade your fabrics or your paintings. LEDs don’t possess this issue and are more durable than fluorescents.

Another reason as to why fluorescents are losing to LEDs is that fluorescents are omnidirectional light sources. What does this mean exactly? To put it simply, fluorescent light bulbs like other traditional light sources shine light in all directions. If your fluorescent doesn’t have a reflector, then most of your light is going to be lost to your ceiling instead of downwards towards at you. LEDs on the other hand are directional. Instead if shining the light in every direction around the light source, the light is projected in a 180 degrees. This means that more light is shining downwards, making the room brighter and less light wasted.

Fluorescent lights are also losing out to LED for another reason. That reason is their design. For older lights, turning on was not instantaneous, it took them little time. Newer models fix this with “rapid start” or something similar but they haven’t solved other issues. Fluorescent lights only live up to their expected lifespan if they are left on continuously. Frequently turning the light off and on will actually degrade fluorescent lights meaning replacements happen more often. Even then fluorescent lights need a ballast to keep their lighting stable. If there is even a minor flaw in that ballast, then the humming or buzz that fluorescents are known for will occur.

If fluorescent lights have all these downsides, then you must be asking yourself why then were they used in the first place. To put it simply, when fluorescent lights came onto the market, they were the most efficient choice around. Compared to incandescent lighting, the only competition at the time, fluorescent lights were just better at lighting large areas with as little energy used as possible. But LEDs are even better at this, why then are they replacing fluorescent lights now?

To make a long story short, the price of LED lights had only recently come down to levels where the net gains outweigh the initial price for LEDs. You can even retrofit old fluorescent fixtures to use LED tubes now. As time goes on, it will eventually be the case that fluorescents will no longer be used. In the end, LEDs efficiently and technological advancements have given them the victory.

Product reference:

4ft 40W 4100 Lumens Linkable LED Utility Shop Light


4ft 40W 4100 Lumens Linkable LED Utility Shop Light — Motion Activated


4ft 40W 4000 Lumens Linkable LED Shop Light — 4000K Cool White


4ft 40W 4000 Lumens Linkable LED Shop Light — 5000K Daylight


4ft 40W 3200 Lumens LED Utility Shop Light with Pull Cord Switch