Posted by An Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jun 3, 2007 at 12:13 am
Our family has used fluorescents since the 50's or earlier.
The old style or product used dangerous chemicals and quite large quanties of mercury also. There were stories of children playing with them as they were long glass tubes and getting sick. there were no real warnings.
All old mfg type used and still use a iron core inductor ( ballest)to limit the current once once the arc in the tube starts. The mercury vapor in the tube allows the arc to continue and this excites the phospor coating which emits the light. (this is a very basic explanation and as I recall is basically correct)
The new versions use electronic circuitry to replace the ballest. Early versions failed at a high rate and they cost possibly $10 each, more or less for many types. The old ballast type ran directly off the 60 HZ power lines and that caused, to some degree the flicker. The new electronic ones may operate with high frequency>???
They may last for many years now, except for the ones that fail. That is the good ones last and the bad ones don't. I have bought many over the years for home and other places. Just don't be suprised if or when they fail.
Whit the power co. subsdies (sp?) they are very cheap when available and as low as $1 for 4 at some stores. With out the subsdeis they can cost $8 to $12 for the large wattage ones and a bit less for the smaller wattage ones.
The packaging dosen't say what color,white or yellowish, the bulbs are. The old tubes were labled much better, white, warm, kitchen, etc.. No warnings on new ones: May contain dangerous chemicals~! or what to do when you drop one and it shatters on the floor. ??
What is the overall enviromental cost on producing these new bulbs? The ordinary ones are glass and tungestin. (sp)