What is a Cold Cathode Light Bulb? December 8, 2010Posted by bowmanlamps in Cold Cathode.
Tags: CCFL, CFL, cold cathode light bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs
A light bulb is a light bulb is a light bulb – right? Wrong! There are certain types of light bulbs (or lamps as they are known in the lighting industry) which meet specific needs. Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL), for instance, are especially useful where dimming, rapid on/off (for signs), or long lamp life is required.
So what is a Cold Cathode Fluorescent Light Bulb? CCFL, like their cousins Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL), use small, integrated ballasts to regulate electric current into a glass tube. The current then reacts with mercury and phosphors to generate ultraviolet light. In traditional CFLs, the cathodes incorporate thin tungsten wires which can reach upwards to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold cathodes use more robust solid metal stubs which max out at 200 degrees Fahrenheit – hence the relatively “cold” cathode.
What are the advantages of Cold Cathode Fluorescent Light Bulbs? Cold Cathodes are ideal for use in theaters, amusement parks, marquees, flashing signs, chandeliers, decorative applications, sanctuaries, down lighting and track lights. They are available in all common shapes, including a-lamps, flame tips, torpedo, G20 globes, G25 globes, G30 globes, R20 floodlights, R30 floodlights, and flat pars.
Dimmable down to 5% of total light output, Cold Cathodes provide more flexibility than CFLs. And, Cold Cathodes last for approximately 25,000 hours of use. That is over 15,000 hours longer than most CFLs. The extended life reduces the maintenance cost and hassle of replacing the lamps.
What are the disadvantages of Cold Cathode Fluorescent Light Bulbs? Cold Cathodes are restricted in light output, reaching only up to 40 watts comparable incandescent. Occasionally, you might see one brigher, up to 60 or 75 watts.) Initial lumens range from 100 to 300. Compare that to the range of a traditional CFL – Upwards past 150 watts comparable incandescent and over 2850 initial lumens. Cold Cathodes tend to cost more than CFL for comparable uses. And finally, Cold Cathode and CFLs do not work well if used with timers, motion detectors, or photo sensors are used. On such systems, small amounts of electricity continuously enter the bulbs, even when turned off, diminishing the life of a Cold Cathode or CFL.