First, if your Mercury vapor lights are cycling on and off you probably have a bad ballast. Any ballasted bulb will be much less efficient when cycling on and off. The greatest amount of power is used when the power is first transmitted through the gas within the bulb. Second, Florescent bulbs are just about as efficient as mercury vapor lumen for lumen. Hope this helps Terry
I would say no. My reasoning is that if incandescent bulbs have as much or more mercury than fluorescent bulbs, the fluorescent industry would be debunking all the reports of a mercury problem.Incandescent lights do not need or use mercury to operate, so there is none in them.Fluorescent lights cannot be made at all without mercury, as it is the glow of mercury ions that produces the UV light inside the fluorescent bulb to excite the phosphor coating to make visible light.
A fluorescent lamp or fluorescent tube is a gas-discharge lamp that uses electricity to excite mercury vapor. The excited mercury atoms produce short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a phosphor to fluoresce, producing visible light. A fluorescent lamp converts electrical power into useful light more efficiently than an incandescent lamp. Lower energy cost typically offsets the higher initial cost of the lamp. The lamp fixture is more costly because it requires a ballast to regulate the current through the lamp.
Fluorescent lights are an excellent choice for home, office, and school environments because they offer many benefits. Still, some myths persist that cause consumers to question the use of fluorescent bulbs. Here are the facts about this type of lighting. Myth: Fluorescent lights flicker, causing eye strain and even headaches. Fact: It used to be true that fluorescent lights had an annoying flicker, accompanied by a slight buzzing noise. Improved technology has eliminated these drawbacks. New fluorescent bulbs use an electronic ballast that produces a steady, silent light. Myth: Fluorescents are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, but less efficient than halogen lighting. Fact: Compact fluorescent lights are almost three times more efficient than halogen bulbs (and more than ten times as efficient as incandescent bulbs). Moreover, fluorescent lighting doesn't consume any power when it is switched off. Halogen bulbs, in contrast, utilize transformers that can continue to consume power even when the light is turned off. Myth: Fluorescents are bad for the environment because they contain mercury. Fact: Fluorescent bulbs do contain a small bit of mercury, which means that they must be discarded in a responsible manner. However, not using fluorescent lights will result in even more mercury being released into the environment. This is because other forms of lighting consume more electricity, which is generated at this time mostly through the burning of fossil fuels. This produces power plant emissions containing mercury. The best way to reduce mercury in the environment is to burn fewer fossil fuels by using fluorescent lighting wherever possible. Myth: Fluorescent light bulbs won't fit inside certain light fixtures, such as the ceiling globes used in many factory-built homes. Fact: Again, this used to be the case, but the advent of the compact fluorescent light bulb changed everything. Today's fluorescent bulbs are smaller than a standard incandescent bulb and will fit in any lighting fixture designed for incandescent bulbs. Myth: You can't use fluorescent bulbs with dimmer switches. Fact: You can use dimmer switches that have set levels such as bright, brighter, and brightest -- as long as they are wired for fluorescent bulbs. However, continuous dimmer switches are still not used with fluorescents.
A fluorescent bulb uses a completely different method to produce light. There are electrodes at both ends of a fluorescent tube, and a gas containing argon and mercury vapor is inside the tube. A stream of electrons flows through the gas from one electrode to the other (in a manner similar to the stream of electrons in a cathode ray tube). These electrons bump into the mercury atoms and excite them. As the mercury atoms move from the excited state back to the unexcited state, they give off ultraviolet photons. These photons hit the phosphor coating the inside of the fluorescent tube, and this phosphor creates visible light. It sounds complicated, so lets go through it again in slow motion:There is a stream of electrons flowing between the electrodes at both ends of the fluorescent bulb.The electrons interact with mercury vapor atoms floating inside the bulb.The mercury atoms become excited, and when they return to an unexcited state they release photons of light in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum.These ultraviolet photons collide with the phosphor coating the inside of the bulb, and the phosphor creates visible light.The phosphor fluoresces to produce light.A fluorescent bulb produces less heat, so it is much more efficient. A fluorescent bulb can produce between 50 and 100 lumens per watt. This makes fluorescent bulbs four to six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs. That's why you can buy a 15-watt fluorescent bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.
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