Light Bulbs and Mag Ruffman

I just ordered one of these Kill A WATT energy use monitors and eight of these compact fluorescent lighbulbs from Energy Alternatives in Victoria, BC on the strength of this article by Mag Ruffman in the Calgary Sun.

Anne-o-philes will recall that Ms. Ruffman played Alice Lawson in the Anne of Green Gables television series, and Olivia King Dale on the Road to Avonlea. She is now a home improvement guru. Proving that everything does indeed begin and end on Prince Edward Island.


Wayne's picture
Wayne on November 24, 2004 - 21:06 Permalink

That was a nice, appropriate, seasonal comment.

Happy Thanksgiving!”

Ian Williams's picture
Ian Williams on November 25, 2004 - 21:45 Permalink

Peter — how are those light bulbs working? Do they give off a nice yellow-white light, or is it that sterile-white light you get with most household halogens?

Rob L.'s picture
Rob L. on November 26, 2004 - 14:03 Permalink

Unfortunately, the ones I use in my basement are the same as any old fluorescent light. They give the skin that weird pallor and the appearance of slightly purple lips. And they don’t work well on a dimmer switch either.

oliver's picture
oliver on November 26, 2004 - 15:37 Permalink

I wouldn’t expect them to work at all on a dimmer switch, because turning a fluorescent on means creating an avalanche of electrons in the gas inside the tube with the voltage difference you are applying between one end of the tube and the other, and I would expect to have a sharp threshhold (up up up goes the voltage as no light goes on, then wham). I could imagine that fluorescents are designed to keep their gas atoms at higher than their minimum quantum excited state, which they don’t reach unless and avalanching electron hits them especially hard, and that this doesn’t happen until you up the voltage beyond the threshhold for an avalanche, so with a dimmer switch you might be able to tap the longer wavelength possibilities of the gas mixture in the tube. And I suppose that would be dimmer, because if that were an equally efficient way to run the tube, engineers would have designed it to run that way, wouldn’t they? Anyway, there’s no way it’s going to be a nice gradual brightening like with an incandescent—where all you’re doing is cooking tungsten from a red-hot to a blue-hot temperature by driving larger numbers of electrons faster through the wire. Fluorescents are quantum. In fact, I think the puzzle of spectral lines was why they had to invent quantum mechanics in the first place. This has been an unpaid public service announcement.