Energy Saving Light Bulbs - EM Fields

Introduction

These bulbs are widely promoted as a green product and are now widespread in most homes. They are made by a large number of different manufacturers and most people believe that there is not much to choose between them. However there are some things to be aware of when choosing a bulb in the shop.

1) Electro Magnetic Radiation

Compact fluorescent bulbs emit a lot more EM radiation than standard incandescent or fluorescent bulbs and the amount of radiation varies a lot between different manufacturers and between different models produced by the same manufacturer. EM Radiation can induce health effects in some people who are especially sensitive and there is widespread concern about long term effects caused by EM fields generated by mobile phones, power lines etc. The older style fluorescent tubes used a magnetic ballast operating at 50Hz and this type generates very small amounts of EMR. The newer compact bulbs designed to fit standard sockets use an electronic ballast operating at 150Khz which radiates much more EMR. In the future the manufacturers will probably take steps to reduce the EMR but this is not happening at present.

2) Start-up performance

All these bulbs are much dimmer when they are first switched on and most of them take about 5 minutes to reach full brightness. Again there is a lot of variation. They also slow down even more in cold temperatures so its important to consider this when buying a bulb for an outside light.

TEST RESULTS

  Style
Power
(W)
EMR (mV)
at 50 cm
Start-up
light output (Lumens)
    5 sec 15 sec 1 min 5 min
TESCO FLE11 TBX/GLS/827 Bulb
11
4.5
36 99 366 667
MAZDA 4L ELECTRONIC Tube
11
7.5
366 447 603 667
PHILIPS GENIE 797254 Tube
11
4.4
366 546 737 737
 
PHILIPS ECOTONE Tube
18
13.9
546 737 995 995
PHILIPS GENIE 797278 Tube
18
7.4
603 900 1100 1100
LYVIA Tube
20
17.5
603 737 995 995
PHILIPS PL ELECTRONIC T Tube
20
19.6
603 737 995 995
PHILIPS SOFTONE (POLAND) Bulb
20
4.4
271 447 603 814
PANASONIC EFT20E28 Bulb
20
7.8
271 494 814 900
MAZDA 6L ELECTRONIC Tube
23
41.6
603 737 1100 1100
 
STANDARD INCANDESCENT Bulb
100
0
1215 1215 1215 1215
STANDARD FLUORESCENT Tube
40
0.3
       

Notes:

1) EMR was measured with simple rod antenna and detector at 50cm
2) Brightness was measured in EV with Weston meter and converted to lumens using formula =INT(EXP(EV)*1100/2697)

Other Comments

Each energy saving bulb contains about 5mg mercury which is very toxic and causes long term pollution when it is disposed in landfill. So it is important to separate these bulbs from other refuse and avoid breaking them. Most councils have not yet woken up to this problem.

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See also Mobile Phones / Safety Feature Article