Common Issues With Traditional Fluorescent Lights
What are some common issues with conventional fluorescent light fixture applications?
There are several problems with fluorescent lighting. Although the cost of the lamps themselves is very low, maintenance and performance issues often arise over time. Fluorescent lighting is designed to operate for a certain amount of time, each time it is turned on, and thus fluorescent tubes tend to have shorter lifetimes. The more frequently they are activated, the shorter the lifetime of the lamp. Fluorescent lamps are also susceptible to temperature fluctuations and under-perform in colder temperatures.
For a four foot fluorescent light, tube wattage typically ranges from 28 watts to 40 watts, and an eight foot lamp typically operates at 96 watts. It is common for fluorescent light fixture applications to utilize between two to four lamps per fixture, totaling approximately 160 watts to 112 watts for four foot lamp fixtures and 192 watts for eight foot lamp fixtures. Operating these types of lamps can easily cost up to $200 in electricity costs alone, per fixture, per year.
For fluorescent fixtures, lighting maintenance is very dependent on the operational use of the lamps and fixtures. When operated in cold environments, or operating in a scenario where the lamps are turned on and off frequently, lamp life and performance can degrade drastically in a short period of time. Every time a fluorescent light is tuned on, it degrades the cathodes (the fluorescent lamp ignition system), resulting in a shorter operational life of the lamp. Lifetimes range from 10,000 to 30,000 hours for typical fluorescent tube, and it can easily cost up to $1,545 over the course of three years to maintain the lighting in a space utilizing fluorescent light fixtures.
The performance of fluorescent lights can vary based on the TYPE of lamp (T12 bulb, T8 bulb, T5 bulb, etc.). CCT (correlated color temperature) and CRI (color rendering index) can also vary from different manufacturers of these lamps. Ultimately the performance of a fluorescent light fixture degrades significantly over time, and considering that most fluorescent lamps operate in multi-lamp fixtures, what you are left with is an interior lighting fixture whose performance is dependent on how it is operated by an individual user, and the ability of individual components (the lamps and ballasts within the actual fixture) to maintain their peak performance. If a single lamp ceases to function properly within a multi-lamp fixture, the performance of the whole fixture is negatively affected.