Frequently Asked Questions

Switching to Low Energy Lighting

Q1 Can I replace incandescent lights with CFLs?
CFLs are available to fit most of the common household light fittings but not all. New CFLs are being developed and tested for other lighting applications and will gradually become available. 

Some special-purpose incandescent lights cannot be replaced with CFLs and are therefore likely to be exempt from the phase out process for some time. These include recessed low voltage (12 volt) downlights, chandeliers, heating lamps, bathroom lights, lamps in whitegoods, and medical and theatre lights. 

Q2 Can I replace my incandescent lights with LEDs?
LED technology is very new and still under development. They are currently unavailable for most lighting situations because their quality is not yet of a high enough standard. Beacon Lighting expects that an increasing range of LEDs will become available in six to twelve months and over time the high cost of LEDs will fall. For up-to-date information on the latest LED technologies available speak with the customer service team at Beacon Lighting.
Q3 Can low voltage halogen downlights be replaced with CFLs?
Low voltage halogen downlights are the most common globe used in Australia today. They are connected directly to transformers and can not be retrofitted with a CFL equivalent. To replace low voltage halogen downlights with CFLs you will require an electrician to remove the transformers and install new lamp holders.
Q4 Are low voltage halogen downlights energy efficient?
No. Low voltage halogen downlights are also a type of incandescent lamp. Each one generates a kilogram of greenhouse gas every 15 hours which is about the same as a 60 watt incandescent globe.
Q5 Do I need to rewire my house to accommodate CFLs?
Incandescent lamps can be directly replaced with CFLs, however replacement of low voltage halogen downlights requires the services of an electrician.
Q6 Are CFL’s compatible with my current light fittings and what base connections do they come in?
In most cases you will be able to directly replace all globes throughout your home with CFLs, they do come in a wide range of base types including SBC (B15), SES (E14), ES (E27) and BC (B22), they are also now available in GU10 and GX53 to replace 240 volt downlights and spotlights. However, there is currently no direct replacement for the low voltage (12 volt) downlight globe as a CFL, we anticipate this will happen in the short future and for now we recommend using 35 watt IRC lamps from a reputable brand. The 35watt IRC will give you the same amount of light as your current 50 watt globe, and will save 30% off your lighting electricity costs. So it’s very easy to make savings on electricity and greenhouse gas emissions today.
Q7 Do CFLs work with dimmer switches?
There are only a handful of CFLs that currently work with a standard dimmer however they are becoming increasingly available and more cost effective as new technology is developed. New products being released are both dimmable using a standard light switch or a dial dimmer. If you have a dimmer switch, speak with your Beacon Lighting customer service representative about the best low energy option available.
Q8 Do CFLs work with movement sensors?
Yes, CFLs work well with movement sensors and Beacon Lighting is currently using movement sensors with CFLs in stores. Please note that it is advisable to set your sensor timing to a longer setting as constant on/off switching will reduce the life of a CFL.
Q9 Do CFLs work in ceiling fans?
Most existing ceiling fans use a lineal halogen lamp. These can not be retrofitted with CFLs and are exempt from the initial phase-out of incandescent bulbs. However many new model ceiling fans are fitted with energy efficient CFLs. Just ask your Beacon Lighting sales representative for advice.
Q10 Do CFLs work with touch lamps?
No, existing touch lamps won’t work with CFLs because they are dimmable. However they are becoming available as manufacturers develop CFL technology.
Q11 Can I replace candle lights with CFLs in my chandelier?
Megaman has just released a energy saving candle globe, however due to the fact that it is not readily available throughout Australia the ban on incandescent globes will not affect the chandelier globe.

CFL Lighting Quality

Q12 Do CFL’s give as much light as incandescent globes and halogen downlights?
The general equation for comparing the light output from a CFL to incandescent globes is to multiply the wattage of the CFL by 5, this will give the approximate equivalent in incandescent light. I.e..8 watt CFL = 40watt incandescent light globe. This is the same when it comes to CFL GU10 downlight globes, this is equivalent to 55 watts of incandescent light. The complication is that a 50 watt halogen is actually equivalent to 110 watts of incandescent light, therefore a 11 watt GU10 will not be as bright as the standard 50watt halogen globe.
Q13 Do CFLs come in a range of lighting options?
CFLs are available in a range of three colours: Bright Daylight offers a strong, bright light suited to home offices, Cool White is suited to social environments like lounge rooms, and Warm White creates a more intimate atmosphere for bedrooms.
Q14 How do CFLs perform?
The flickering and slow starting traditionally associated with fluorescent lights has been removed and new electronically ballasted CFLs don’t flicker or hum. There are now very high standards that dictate the product quality of CFLs that can be sold in Australia.

Purchasing CFL Replacements

Q15 What do I look for when buying a replacement CFL?
When buying replacement CFLs you need to choose the light output or wattage and lamp colour. If you have a dimmer switch or are unsure as to whether you can retro fit an existing light fitting with a CFL, your Beacon Lighting customer service representative can provide you with expert advice.
Q16 What CFL wattage do I buy to replace incandescent globes?
Because CFLs use less energy, a lower wattage globe is required for the same amount of light you get from an incandescent lamp. As a guide, the general equation used to select the right light output from a CFL replacement is to multiply the CFL wattage by 5. For example, use an 8 watt CFL to replace a 40 watt incandescent globe.

Q17 What CFL lamp colour should I choose?
The following three lamp colour options are available to suit different lighting requirements:

• Warm White (2700K) for bedrooms and other areas that require a more intimate or ambient atmosphere
• Cool White (4000K) for lounge rooms, and other social environments where a bright light is unnecessary
• Bright Daylight (6500K) for task areas in home offices and work spaces that require a brightness similar to the outdoors

The higher the Kelvin (K) rating the bluer the colour gets. Lower Kelvin-rated CFLs have more yellow and are similar to the light colour of an incandescent globe. The Kelvin rating only refers to the colour of the light emitted, not the brightness, and different colours should be used for different situations as listed above.

Q18 How long do CFLs last?
The life of a CFL will vary greatly depending on the quality and price of the product. As a guide, a household globe is expected to run for approximately 1000 hours each year. Therefore low cost 4000 hour CFLs will last up to four years, mid priced products ranging from 6000 to 8000 hour lamps will last roughly six to eight years, and the best quality CFLs will last between 10000 and 15000 hours or ten to 15 years. The approximate years are obviously dependant on the frequency of use. Beacon Lighting always suggests buying a recognised brand to ensure your light globe lasts the stated hours.
Q19 What will it cost to replace my incandescent bulbs with CFLs?
The upfront cost of purchasing CFL bulbs is greater than incandescent and halogen bulbs however the running costs are significantly lower. Government estimates suggest households will save up to 66% off their lighting bills by converting to low energy lighting. 

The following table can be used as a guide:

Environmental Issues

Q20 What greenhouse gas emissions will I save by converting to CFLs?
During its lifetime, just one CFL bulb has the capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as one tonne.
Q21 Does it take more energy to make a CFL than an incandescent bulb?
CFLs do require a little more energy to produce however they require 80% less energy to run. Therefore over the life of the globe a CFL uses much less energy than an incandescent lamp.
Q22 Do incandescent light bulbs contain mercury?
Incandescent light bulbs do not contain mercury however their use ultimately releases much more mercury into the environment throughout each bulb’s lifetime when compared to CFLs. This is because the biggest source of mercury pollution is coal-fired power plants.

Burning coal to illuminate incandescent lamps releases about five times the mercury into the environment compared to burning the same coal to illuminate CFLs. This is significantly more than the mercury contained in the CFL.

Ultimately, the net benefit of using a low energy CFL is positive, particularly if the mercury in lamp is recycled and kept out of landfills.
Q23 How much mercury is found in CFLs?
CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury, usually around 3 to 5 mg, with some ‘low-mercury’ CFLs containing as little as 1.4 mg. According to the Australian government the maximum allowable amount of mercury in a CFL is 15 mg.

5 mg is 100 times less than a mercury thermometer or dental filling and one fifth of that found in a watch battery.
Q24 Is the mercury found in CFLs dangerous?
The trace amounts of mercury sealed within glass tubing in CFLs is not dangerous to users when the CFL is in tact or in use because no mercury is released. 

However mercury is a toxic substance therefore it’s important that CFLs are handled carefully and disposed of responsibly.
Q25 What if I break a CFL?
If you break a CFL you can release mercury into the atmosphere. Gently sweep up the glass fragments and use a damp cloth to pick up fine particles. If the breakage is on carpet, use sticky tape then a damp cloth to clean up the debris prior to vacuuming. Place all debris into a sealed plastic bag for disposal and ventilate the room where possible.
Q26 How should I dispose of CFLs?
In Australia there is no legislation covering the disposal of CFLs or other electronic waste, therefore it is legal to place them in your household garbage bin. 

However in landfills, the mercury from crushed lamps can escape and contribute to air and water pollution. Therefore lamp manufacturers are working with governments to develop sustainable solutions for recycling CFLs.

Contact your local recycling and waste depot for information on CFL disposal alternatives in your community. And please do not contaminate your recyclable waste with CFLs.

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