by Randall Whitehead, June 12, 2004
Admit it. Like most people, you have a fear of
fluorescent lights: the moment an electrician, designer
or architect mentions using fluorescent, your eyes glaze
over and you slowly start backing away with your arms
crossed over your face. This is not an unusual reaction.
But you should know that over the past six years, huge
improvements have been made in fluorescent technology.
Scourge of the Past
When we were growing up, fluorescent bulbs came in two
colors: warm white (which gave off a murky
pinkish-orange light) and cool white (which made people
look greenish-gray). Now, there are many new fluorescent
products that present people and living spaces in a much
more flattering light. There are a huge number of new
colors from which to choose, and many are highly
complimentary to skin tones.
Compared to standard incandescent
household bulbs, the advantages of fluoresecnts are
tremendous. A standard bulb typically lasts 750 hours,
but a fluorescent bulb lasts 10,000 to 22,000 hours. A
40-watt fluorescent bulb gives 3 to 5 times the amount
of light of a 40 watt household bulb, which translates
to significant energy savings. They produce less heat,
which is a great in summer when air conditioners are
cranked up to full blast. The bottom line is that
fluorescents are a great long term value, even given
their somewhat higher initial cost.
An important factor for homes in California is the new
Title 24 requirements, which went into effect on October
1, 2005. These are stricter than before and will
seriously impact your future designs.
Changed View of Lighting
Since electricity was
introduced, our homes have been illuminated primarily
with incandescent sources. Most of us have therefore
come to accept having our spaces filled with yellow
light. Now, an awareness of the color-rendering
abilities of different bulbs is making people think
twice about the color of light in their homes and
Do you ever find yourself going over to a window or
other source of daylight while shopping for a rug or a
fabric in order to see its "real" colors? Think about
it: after you have spent considerable time and energy
choosing just the right colors, why would you put them
in an environment filled with yellow light?