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How Energy Saving Light Bulbs Work

Energy saving light bulbs are all the hype nowadays yet many people still don’t understand how these work and actually differ from traditional alternatives. In this article we take a look at the energy saving light bulb and how it differs from the less efficient varieties available.

The Differences Between Traditional and Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Before we look at how energy saving light bulbs actually work, it’s important to understand the difference between this type of bulb and the more traditional variety.

A traditional light bulb is incandescent and over 80% of the energy consumed by this type of bulb is turned into heat. This makes incandescent bulbs not very efficient at all as most of the energy consumed is lost as heat. An energy saving bulb on the other hand is fluorescent, and this type of bulb produces much less heat, thus making it much more efficient than an incandescent light bulb as more of the energy consumed is turned into light energy.

As fluorescent bulbs waste much less heat than incandescent alternatives, they actually require much less energy in order to light a room.

The Inner Workings of an Energy Saving Light Bulb

Now we understand the differences between the two types of bulbs, we can look at the inner workings of an energy saving light bulb and how this works to produce light energy.

Energy saving light bulbs feature a design that consists of a plastic base with glass tubes flowing out of it. The shape of these tubes can vary between designs; some of which are vertical and curved at the top whilst others spiral like the variety shown above.

The glass tubes are coated with a phosphorous lining on the inside and are filled with a gas made up of mercury vapour. The plastic base contains an inductive electrical ballast which is a device intended to limit the amount of electrical current that is passed to a given device.

When installed in a light fitting, electricity flows through the electrical ballast resulting in the mercury vapour giving off light in the ultraviolet range. This ultraviolet light is then able to stimulate the phosphorous coating that lines the inside of the tubes. As the phosphorous coating is stimulated, it is able to give off light in the range visible to the human eye and this is how energy saving light bulbs actually work.