How Does Fluorescent Light Work?

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Fluorescent lamps are the hard-working unsung heroes of the lighting industry, delivering efficient, dependable light to offices, retail stores, warehouses, and countless other settings. But have you ever wondered how fluorescent lights work? Read on to discover the science behind these common sources of illumination.

The Structure of Fluorescent Lamps

A sealed glass tube is the primary component in a fluorescent lamp. The tube usually contains argon, an inert gas that’s kept in low pressure. The tube also contains trace amounts of mercury, as well as a coating of phosphor powder. Each end of the tube has an electrode to conduct electricity, and both electrodes connect to the electrical circuit.

How They Work

So now you know what’s inside of fluorescent lamps, but you’re probably still wondering, “how do fluorescent lights work?”

  1. When you turn the light on, electrical current flows through the electrodes
  2. The voltage causes electrons to move through the argon gas to the other side of the tube
  3. The energy from this transition causes mercury to turn from a liquid into a gas
  4. Electrons and charged atoms collide with the gaseous mercury atoms
  5. The collisions increase the electrons’ energy levels
  6. As electrons return to their normal energy level, energy is released as photons, creating invisible-spectrum light that the human eye can’t see
  7. The phosphor powder in the glass tube interacts with the invisible-spectrum light, producing white light that the human eye can see

Save on Quality Fluorescent Lighting

As you can see, it’s simply a matter of exciting electrons to produce energy, and then that energy is released as photons, which are converted into visible light by phosphor powder. This method is more efficient than incandescent lamps, as energy is converted into light, rather than heat (for the most part).

Atlanta Light Bulbs stocks a wide range of  fluorescent bulbs for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Whether you need linear T8 fluorescent tubes or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), you’ll find the best fluorescent lighting products for less.

If you’re interested in learning more about how fluorescent bulbs work, or if you have any questions related to lighting at all, we encourage you to contact our in-house lighting specialists. You can call 1-888-988-2852, email  [email protected], fill out our contact form, or click the live chat button below. Save on brand-name lighting solutions today!