The Problems with Fluorescent Lights

1
Fluorescent Flicker Problems

Fluorescent lights have a number of great advantages over incandescent bulbs. They are much more efficient, so they use less energy. They also last about thirteen times longer, so you don’t have to change them out that often. That is a huge ergonomic advantage.

With the wide spread availability of compact fluorescent bulbs you can actually use fluorescent everywhere. Not only can the use of flourescents help the environment, they are also cheaper to operate.

But there are some draw backs that should be considered when using fluorescent lights. The sole use of fluorescent lights can have some negative ergonomic and health effects on you.

Flicker

Fluorescent lights are gas filled tubes. The gas gets excited by electric pulses and emits light. The item responsible for exciting the gas is called a ballast.

Ballasts send pulses of electricity. These pulses turn the light on and off quite fast. The rate of these pulses is quite high, high enough that you don’t see it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t notice it.

Some people have sensitivity to this flicker. They perceive the variations in intensity of the light source and it messes up their system. Those who are affected by flicker often suffer from:

Solutions

  • Use lights with electronic ballasts, not magnetic ballasts.
  • Use lights with ballasts that convert voltages at a high frequency (20,000 – 60,000 Hz).
  • Replace bulbs regularly. Older bulbs flicker more.
  • Combine an incandescent light with your fluorescent lighting so that the constant light from the incandescent bulb covers up the flicker.

2
Fluorescent Green Tint

Fluorescent bulbs are filled with gas. Each gas gives off a particular color of light (think neon signs). Fluorescent lights are known for their green tint. That is not always the most ergonomic light to use.

Poor lighting color can cause quite a few health problems like:

  • Headaches
  • Eye Strain
  • Eye Discomfort
  • Poor Visual Communication on Color Specific Items

Solutions

  • Use a broader spectrum fluorescent bulb. A daylight or full spectrum bulb uses a combination of gases to create a whiter light.
  • Combine an incandescent light with your fluorescent lighting to even out the color.
  • Replace bulbs regularly. Older bulbs are not as bright.

3
Fluorescent Winter Blues

The winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder, often occurs to people in the winter time. One possible reason for contracting the winter blues is a lack of light. Your body needs sunlight. During the gray skied winter months a lot of that light is blocked and the body responds in a negative way.

Some people report similar symptoms when they work inside under fluorescent lights and don’t get outside in the sun during the day enough. Without the daylight spectrum certain body functions may not be instigated or supported properly and the body responds in a negative way.

Solutions

  • Use a broader spectrum fluorescent bulb. A daylight or full spectrum bulb uses a combination of gases to increase the light spectrum emitted.
  • Take a break and get outside for a few minutes.