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CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Please note: Fluorescents are not recommended for use with photo cells or timers.

About CFL Bulbs - Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

CFLs, or compact fluorescent light bulbs, are simply miniature versions of full-sized fluorescents and are available is many different shapes and sizes. From bulbs that simply screw into standard lamp sockets and give off light that looks just like common incandescent bulbs to decorative CFL light bulbs and flood lights, has the fluorescent light bulbs you need.

CFL Bulbs Shapes

  • Spiral Lamps: A small fluorescent tube in a spiral shape available either with the tube exposed or covered by a plastic or glass shell to mimic the shape of more traditional light bulbs. Spiral CFL bulbs come in a wide range of sizes from compact spirals designed to fit in small household fixtures to large spirals typically used as grow lights and commercial lighting.
  • Standard Lamps: CFL spiral lamps with a plastic or glass shell designed to give the appearance of a traditional A-shape bulb. Diffuser lens provides a quality of light similar to frosted incandescent bulbs.
  • Globe Lamps: Commonly used in vanity mirrors or open bulb applications. Vanities usually require multiple bulbs, which generate radiant heat. CFLs reduce this heat buildup and save energy. Frosted cover provides a diffused light.
  • Candelabra: The screw-in torpedo-shape and small base of this bulb is designed for smaller light fixtures from chandeliers to sconces. To use a smaller candelabra-based bulb in a regular socket, you can use a socket reducer.
  • Triple Tube Lamps: These CFLs have more tubing in a smaller area, which generates even more light from a shorter bulb. They pack a high Lumen output into a very small space and can be used in fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs.
  • Flood Lamps: Designed for use in recessed and track lighting fixtures indoors and outdoors. They provide diffused light and generate less heat than an incandescent or halogen flood light.

CFL Base Types

  • Screw-In Base: Standard Edison-style base such as those found on incandescent light bulbs. Available in medium E26, candelabra E12, and mogul E39 base sizes.
  • Plug-In Base: Small plastic bases with two or four pins that are designed to be used with separate ballasts which are mounted in the fixture.
  • GU24 Base: Designed to replace the Edison sockets and bases to match the newest Energy Star requirements. GU24 fixtures avoid backward compatibility with screw base bulbs which guarantees higher energy efficiency.

Benefits of Using Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Efficiency and Savings

Electric lighting consumes up to 25% of the average home energy budget. CFL bulbs use about 50-80% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs making them an efficient way to replace old bulbs and start saving money on your power bill. Although initially more expensive, you save money in the long run because these energy-saving light bulbs use 1/3 the energy and last up to 10 times as long as incandescents. A 22 Watt CFL has about the same light output as a 100 Watt incandescent. At 8 cents per kWh, a single 18 Watt CFL used in place of a 75 Watt incandescent will save about $45.

Pollution Reduction

By replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL you can keep a half-ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb. If everyone in the U.S. used energy-efficient lighting, we could retire 90 average size power plants.

High-Quality Light

Unlike older generation CFL bulbs that just emit a cool almost blue color light, newer compact fluorescent light bulbs are capable of a much wider range of color temperatures. They use rare earth phosphors for excellent color and warmth. Color temperatures vary from warmer whites designed to resemble incandescents and halogens to cooler whites well suited for task and office lighting. You can even find 6500K bulbs that can be used as grow light bulbs. Plus, thanks to new electronic ballasts, CFLs don't flicker or hum like they used to.


Compact fluorescent light bulbs can be used nearly anywhere that incandescent lamps and halogen flood lights are used. Most CFLs are non-dimmable, but dimmable CFLs are also available for lights using a dimmer.

Why You Shouldn't Use Fluorescent Bulbs with Photo Cells or Timers

Fluorescent lamps are not recommended for use with photo cells or timers. Pairing the bulbs with a photo cell or timer could shorten the life of the lights significantly because most of these electrical devices are not compatible with fluorescents. Most photo cells supply a small amount of power as the sun starts to set and only provides full power at full dark. A fluorescent ballast requires full power at startup which is what causes the fluorescents to fail early when on these systems. There is also the issue that photo cells and timers are typically used with outdoor lighting which fluorescent lights are not well suited for due to cold temperatures having a negative effect on the light source's warm up time and light output. If the lights are used indoors and paired with a compatible device, they should function well as long as they are not subjected to frequent on/off cycles.

Can't find the CFL you've been searching for? Give our team of lighting experts a call at 1-800-624-4488 for assistance finding the light bulbs you need.