Do CFL Bulbs Get Hot? (And Burn Out?)

When considering the light options to go with, it is important to compare the features of each product, and for lightbulbs, heat is an important feature to take note of. There are several options to choose from when selecting bulb options, you have Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL), the older incandescent, and the newer LEDs to choose from when making a decision.

Each type of bulb offers improvements on the older one, with incandescent being the oldest, then CFLs and most recently the LEDs. The LEDs haven’t been around as long as CFLs or incandescent, so the older models are still options worth looking at.

In this article, we will take a look at one of the most important features to consider when selecting any bulb option, the amount of heat, and whether the CFL gives off as much heat as other bulb types.

Do CFL Bulbs Give Off Heat?

Yes, just like all forms of conventional lights, they do, but not nearly as much as incandescent bulbs, about 90% less heat is given off by CFLs. The heat is generated mainly due to the conversion process of electricity to light.

CFL bulbs do give off heat, as does anything that consumes electricity because much of their energy is released in the form of heat energy and not light energy.

CFLs do not give up as much heat as the incandescent bulb, but still, get hot. Some tests have shown that 100-watt incandescent lights burn at 335-degree Fahrenheit while CFL lights burn at 179-degree Fahrenheit. 

Compact Fluorescent bulbs are energy-saving bulbs that are compact fluorescent tubes. They are highly versatile and can be used in most settings, mostly as an alternative to incandescent bulbs. CFLs discharge gas and require electricity from cathodes to induce mercury gas vapor in a process known as elastic scattering.

Why Do CFL Bulbs Burn Out?

Firstly, it is important to note that CFLs like other types of bulbs have a finite life, and therefore they will burn out eventually. But some factors might cause them to burn out prematurely, and because these factors aren’t meant to be a regular occurrence, they occur only in special cases.

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One of the reasons CFLs might burn out is that they are generally fragile and factors like vibrations, temperatures, enclosures, incompatible dimmers, and fluctuations in power can be causes of CFL burnouts.

The average 15-watt CFL bulb lasts 10000 hours, which is a long time before you have to worry about it burning out.

Why Do CFL Bulbs Get Hot?

Appliances powered by electricity are prone to getting hot, although to varying degrees. While most of these appliances are designed to be able to manage this heat, it is not always that obvious.

And yes, CFL bulbs do get hot. Definitely not as much as incandescent bulbs, but they do get hot. This is mainly down to the way they work. Most of their energy is given off as heat, not light, and this also translates to them not being as efficient as LED bulbs.

Also, this means more electricity is needed for them to produce light, but not so much in LED bulbs.

Can CFL Bulbs Cause a Fire?

Experts say they cannot cause a fire. But there have been cases of CFL’s smoking, emitting a pungent odor, and even flashing sometimes, although all these aren’t common.

It is always a good idea to know the significant risks that come with products in ordinary use, and there have been some cases of fires from CFLs especially when they are used in recess lighting, pot lights, dimmers or track lighting. It is

Which Produces More Heat: CFL or LED?

Technically CFL bulbs do produce more heat than LEDs but this is mainly down to the work and how much of their energy is given off as heat rather than light.

Heat is a huge factor to consider for many people, as it should be, especially when they are purchasing large amounts for large-scale installations because heat and fire hazards are factors that influence what an individual is willing to spend on lighting.

Users that purchase in small quantities should also consider this factor just as seriously no matter the size of the installation.

Are CFL Bulbs Hotter Than Incandescent?

No, they are not, they have been shown to produce far less heat than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs give off more heat because of their inefficiency. Only 10% of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is converted to light, the other 90% is lost as heat.

Incandescent lightbulbs get hot very quickly, so much so that they can burn your hand if you touch them. The electricity that enters the bulb runs through a tungsten filament, and because the filament is so thin, there is quite a resistance to the electricity, and what this resistance does it to turn the electrical energy into heat.

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Should You Switch From CFL to LED Light?

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which bulb to buy, factors such as efficiency, brightness, cost-effectiveness, life span, and event color rendering are important.

The overall answer to the question is yes, it is advisable to switch from CFL bulbs to LEDs because they are better in virtually all factors.

1. Firstly, for the brightness of these bulbs, it is important to understand how their technologies work. In short, LED and CFL as technologies do not have a difference in brightness intrinsically. 

Brightness is measured in lumens because it is the best measurement of light. A CFL and LED bulb can have the same lumen (brightness) output but vary drastically in the amount of energy that is required to generate that level of brightness.

2. Secondly, you should consider the lumen and wattage comparison because LED bulbs require much less wattage than CFL, which is why LEDs are more energy-efficient and last longer.

The more lumens a bulb has, the brighter the light. Labels on the front of light bulb packages now state the brightness of a bulb in lumens, rather than the bulb’s energy usage in watts.

When you’re shopping for your next bulb, it is advisable to find the lumen output you’re looking for (the bigger it is, the brighter) and choose the bulb with the lowest wattage (here, the lower the better)

3. Another factor to consider is the cost-effectiveness of the type of bulb you’re buying. We already know that LEDs are more cost-efficient because it requires less power to produce the same amount of light that an incandescent bulb would, and would therefore cost less in terms of electricity bills.

4. Lifespan is another important factor to consider. While LED technology for use in bulbs has not been in the market for long, the new technology is considerably ahead of the CFL with little to show in comparison.

LED bulbs are the champion in terms of longevity, CFLs are the next best but by some distance. LEDs have a lifespan of 25000 hours compared to CFL’s 8000 hours. It is important to note that most tests are based on a running time of 3 hours per day.

Why Do My CFL Bulbs Burn Out So Quickly?

There are several reasons why your CFLs burn out quickly. One of them is the fixture it is in. Light fixtures are proven to wear out over time and develop wiring problems that cause the bulbs to fail early. If bulbs regularly burn out quickly in the same lighting fixture, then the fixture is most likely the issue.

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First of all, all lightbulbs that weren’t designed to be rechargeable will burn out eventually. With the improvements in bulb technology that CFLs have over the older incandescent bulbs it is expected that they would last longer, and that is the case, except there is an issue.

So if you can, find out the manufacturers’ claims on the expected lifespan of the bulb you want to get and compare it with the actual results from the usage of others, to know if the manufacturers’ claims are true or not and if they do burn out quicker.

Should I Switch From Incandescent to CFL Bulbs?

The short answer is yes, you should. This is an easy recommendation because the CFL bulbs offer improvements over the older incandescent bulbs.

The way incandescent bulbs work is they emit light by heating the filaments present in the bulb, which is very inefficient in the sense that most of the electricity is given off as heat and much less is actually used to provide light.

CFL bulbs on the other hand generate light by sending an electrical discharge through an ionized gas, which is a more efficient method used in incandescent bulbs, meaning less electricity (watts) will be required to produce the same amount of light which is what makes them more cost-efficient in the long run.

You should also consider the lifespan of each type of bulb. The CFL bulbs last considerably longer than the incandescent due to their more efficient method of producing light.

As much as on paper the CFL looks to be ahead of the older incandescent bulbs, there is also a factor that should know about and considered when making a choice between these two options, and that is the reliability of both of them.

This area is where the incandescent is better than the CFL because the incandescent are generally more reliable, the CFL bulbs are notoriously known for how fragile they are and even though the manufacturers can make claims on how cost-efficient or long their lifespan is, none of it matters if the bulbs die after a short time because of other factors. 

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.