While setting up our house we bought 4 T5 tube lights for 4 rooms: living room, 2 bedrooms and one kitchen. The lights did well for the first year, but after the first year the one in the kitchen conked off. The other 3 went on well for next 2 years. My first reaction was that there might be a manufacturing defect in the one tube light. I replaced it with a CFL but that also went off soon. That made us think: why is it happening only in the kitchen. Many a times when CFLs or tubelights fail to run as per our expectation, we feel that there is manufacturing defect. Or worst some people may feel that CFLs are not good at all. As we discussed in a previous post (link) all lights emit heat, and although there may be a manufacturing defect (badly put up heat sink), but if ambient temperatures are high, the performance and life of CFLs and Tubelights decrease.
Life of Ballast depends on temperature
All CFLs and Tubelights have ballast that controls and regulates the current in the system. A research done by Lighting Research Center (link) suggests that life of electronic ballasts decreases under elevated temperatures. And with every 10-degree increase in temperature in Fahrenheit, which would be close to 6-7 degrees centigrade, the life of the ballast decreases to half. So the tubelight that worked for us for 3 years died in 1+ year because of the increased temperatures in the kitchen. As per some of the links (link1 and link2), optimum temperatures for best performance of CFLs and tubelights is around 25oC and 35oC. The performance deteriorates beyond that.
Even the light output depends on temperature
It is not only the life but also the light output of lamps that get impacted by the ambient temperature. Another research by Lighting Research Center (link) also shows that the brightness of a lamp depends on temperature. The brightness of the lamps are also the best at about 25oC and 35oC (with T5 lights better even at slightly higher temperatures). The performance varies by tube type but a general observation suggests that using lamps at ideal temperatures of 25oC to 35oC gives better life and better performance for CFLs and tubelights.
Although this article does not provide ideas on saving electricity, but we felt that it is important to note this point because technologies like CFLs and T5 tubelights are very important for helping us save electricity, and we should not discard them as ineffective by one off incidences where the life or output of the appliance was impacted by the environmental factors. Its very important that we understand the best use of technologies and have the right expectations with the same.
About the Author:
Abhishek Jain is an Alumnus of IIT Bombay with almost 10 years of experience in corporate before starting Bijli Bachao in 2012. His passion for solving problems moved him towards Energy Sector and he is keen to learn about customer behavior towards Energy and find ways to influence the same towards Sustainability. More from this author.