I Can’t Believe It’s Not Incandescent!

I hate fluorescent lighting. I mean really hate fluorescent lighting. I’ve often gone off on lengthy rants to my friends and family, blaming fluorescent lights for the evils of the world. My wife, M., has had to endure this ranting numerous times.

So when I told her that I was going to Home Depot this morning to buy two fluorescent lights for my basement workshop, you could have knocked her over with a feather.

What inspired this change in heart? Allow me to ‘splain:

First, when Noel installed fluorescents in the basement of Casa Decrepit, I was inspired to get off my duff and seek out a better lighting solution for my basement workshop.

Second, when my employer moved into a new office 6 months ago, I was surrounded by fluorescent lights, and there wasn’t a switch anywhere to turn them off. I felt totally trapped and immediately began to plot out ways to cover my cubicle with tent material to block out the nasty fluorescent ickiness. However, after a week, I noticed, or more to the point, I didn’t notice any of the three things that I hate about fluorescents:

  1. The annoying 60hz hum
  2. The super annoying flicker
  3. The incredibly annoying and life-sucking “cold” color of the lights

What was it about the fluorescents in my new office that made them different? After doing a little research, I discovered that some advances in fluorescent technology have been made in the past few years that make them suck less. New “electronic” ballasts eliminate the hum and the flicker (and can even be “instant-on”), and newer bulbs emit light that is much closer to the warm yellowy-red light of incandescent bulbs.

Quick note about bulbs: Most fluorescents that you find in office buildings have a color temperature of 4500 degrees which feels cold and weird to me (did I mention that they suck the life out of you? Good. Just checking). The bulbs that I got are rated at a much cozier 3000 degrees. This makes me feel more like I’m in my home and less like I’m in prepping for an alien autopsy.


I went to Home Depot this morning and bought 2 “Lithonia Lighting 1 x 4 Ft. 2-Lamp Fluorescent Shop Lights (T-8)” and 4 T-8 48″ bulbs. It took a only few moments to assemble them, hang them from hooks I put into the subfloor between the rafters, and plug them into the incandescent fixtures’ outlets above my workbench. I plan on hard-wiring them in later, but for now, it’s like daylight in my workshop, and I love my new lights. M. even likes them! She asked me to install one over the washer and dryer in the basement.

And that’s how I came to install fluorescent lights in the basement of The Old Man. Am I ready to install them upstairs in my living area? I wouldn’t go quite that far. Let’s just stick with the basement for now.

3 Responses to “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Incandescent!”

  1. Ayse Says:

    Fluorescents lights have come a very long way. There are some very nice thin fluorescents in warm spectrum colours that can actually make for a very nice working surface in the kitchen; we’re planning on using them as undercabinet lighting in the unlikely event that we live long enough to redo the kitchen. Thank the California energy codes for giving manufacturers incentives to make them.

    I certainly would not put tubular fluorescents in the living room, or in any room where you need to look in a mirror, but in the basement (or another utility space) they are very nice for general lighting. It’s almost surreal to go down there and be able to see everything.

    By the by, the standard incandescent light is very yellow and unflattering. The most flattering light for human skin in pink light. Some decorators line table lamps with pink fabric to make the light pinker, but you can also get pink bulbs. You’d be amazed how much better and comfortable your rooms will look with pink light.

    (Yes, I am a lightbulb pusher. We got you started with the fluorescents, and now it’s the pink bulbs. Next thing you know we’ll see you in a dark alley installing metal halides.)

  2. Gregory Says:

    We use the compact fluorescent that operate at around 5400K, which takes some getting used to since it’s a bit more blue than incandescent and uses 2/3 less power. I think it does look more like sunlight as they claim.

  3. Di Says:

    This really isn’t related to your post on fluorescent lighting, but I couldn’t find an e-mail address anywhere on your site. I also have a foursquare and have a few questions that I’m hoping you can help me with. Please send me an e-mail so we can discuss outside your “Comments” section 🙂

    Thanks in advance!

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