Emission spectra of some compact fluorescent lamps (CFL bulbs)
Dec 2010, Dec 2006
Compact flourescent lamps (CFL) have colour casts and other peculiarities that unfortunately aren't described on their package at the store. To investigate their differences, I tried looking at the emission spectra of three bulbs I happen to have on-hand.
Here are the emission spectra of three CFL bulbs compared with a 60W incandescent bulb and an LED lamp, obtained using a diffraction grating and a 'narrow' slit:
These are the bulbs, in the same order as the spectra above:
All the CFL bulbs were steady (no perceived flicker).
It'd be nice if labelling for CFL bulbs would include the operating characteristics, emission spectrum chart and colour cast, and brightness.
Some CFLs are labelled with a 'temperature', in degrees Kelvin, but of course a continuous-spectrum black-body-radiation profile would be only a very rough approximation of the discontinuous spectra emitted by any of the CFL bulbs here. An emission chart would convey more information, or a 'colour rendering index' value, CRI.
Nice page. Will you be updating it with currently available CFLs. It seems that new models are coming out all the time and old models disappearing.
Brent (Victoria, BC) 2008-Jan-30 16:30
Maybe, if I notice bulbs that are significantly different from these.
Lighting spectrum is considered significant by some in physical and mental health. Unfortunately the supposedly better kind of fluorescent is about twice as expensive, and health costs hard to prove. Not sure how it rates for environmental toxicity in manufacture and disposal. Does not draw a lot more power, if any. Might encourage more to convert from incandescent. Wonder about the field of the electronics in the CFL base.
Doug Wilson 2008-Feb-08 11:28
Hi! I liked your work, in fact last year i studied a number of CFL spectra with a very good hand held direct vision type spectroscope. I feel the discontinuous parts of these spectra are not very pleasing to our eyes. In some cheap cfl's even the band spectra are visible.
yagyik (India) 2008-Aug-14 11:14