Compact fluorescent lights
“How do the lights in our households and workplaces work?”
With the advent of energy efficiency standards, most light bulbs in our homes, schools, and workplaces are now based upon fluorescent lighting technology. However, how exactly do these compact fluorescent lights? Well, let’s use our engineering mindset to find out. Let’s start by taking apart a fluorescent light bulb. If we do so, we will notice that there are three components: A screw base, an electronic ballast, and a spiral lamp. The base is the “bottom” portion used to fit the lamp into a lamp holder. Next, in the interior, the electronic ballast consists of a complex circuit. The electronic ballast will take in AC electricity from the grid at one phase and convert it into AC electricity at a much higher phase. This “stepped up” AC electricity will allow for a frequently changing current, which will be useful in exciting the surrounding gas to produce light. CFLs are up to 4 times more efficient than traditional incandescent lights and last ten times as long, while also being far more efficient (in fact, a CFL bulb can reduced carbon emissions by over a half a ton over the course of its lifetime!).