If you believe you may be in the market for replacement fluorescent lamps for your home or business,… now may be the time to buy them.  After being warned for some time now, today our national pricing service alerted us to a 35% increase in most fluorescent lamps.  This is due to a worldwide shortage of Phosphor, one of the main ingredients on the inside of the fluorescent lamps.  We have also told to be ready for another 40 to 60% increase in just another month.  This means that by the end of next month fluorescent lamps could easily be double or more from what we were paying for them last month.

If you see some need to replace a few lamps in the near future, now may be the time to buy a few more than usual to avoid the next cost increase.  But, before you do, I’d like to offer a few tips before you do about which fluorescent lamp is right for you:

Fluorescent lamps have two main color temperature and rendering indexes that are most commonly used for lamp selection.  The first one (color correlated temperature) is the color you most easily perceive when looking at fluorescent lamps.  The common types are 2700, 3000, 3500, 4100, 5000 & 6100. Sometimes expressed with a “k” to denote “Kelvins”.  Some industry people also refer to them as 27, 30, 35, 41,… etc to shorten it up a bit.  To bring this into a context most of us can understand a color of 2700k is roughly equivalent to the color an standard incandescent lamp puts out.  This is the color most people like in their homes — mostly because it’s just what they’re used to.  It’s often described as being a “warm color” or a “warm white”.  3500k is what most people see in offices, banks, schools, churches, etc.  It gives off a little more of a bluish color.  This is sometimes referred to as “cool white”.  The 6100k lamps are closer to natural outdoor sun light.  In the lighting industry we prefer to install something in the 4100k range of lamps in office settings to give people what we believe is the best solution for seeing and correctly interpreting colors without being too hard on the eyes.

The other index is the Color Rendering Index, or CRI. This index has a lot more to do with how lighting helps our eyes interpret the colors we are seeing.  Most basic bargain lamps found in retail stores are near the CRI index of 70.  A better choice would be something closer to 80.  Something in the 90 range is considered top-end stuff.

The two indexes above are often combined into one 3-digit code that tells you what you are looking at.  Examples: 735 = CRI of 70 and a color temperature of 3500k.  941 has a CRI of 90 and a color of 4100k.  830 has a CRI of 80 and a color of 3000k.  I think you probably get the drift by now.

If a warm color is what you want in your home then you’re going to want to stick with something like a 730 or 830.  Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) can often be found in 2700k or even less than that sometimes.  Linear fluorescent lamps are hard to find in the 2700k range at retail outlets.  I have 2700k CFLs in my home side by side with incandescents and even some 2700k LED lamps and it’s hard to distinguish the difference between them.

As you make some purchases of fluorescent lamps in the near future, keep in mind that they’ll continue going up in the near future.  This might be a good time to consider moving to LED options.  I’ll share more at a later date about LED’s and how even though they’re quite a bit more money than incandescents or fluorescents, they’ll save you a LOT of money over the years.

Here are just a few links to learn more about fluorescent lighting and color indexing:

Wikipedia CRI Index Article
Wikipedia CCT Index Article
Industry Article on Colors
Choosing the Right Lamp for You

Never hesitate to call us here for more information about what might be right for your home or business.  Just remember our number: 541-343-2222.