Compact fluorescent bulbs known as CFL bulbs and crystal lighting isn’t a match made in heaven!  We have been crystal lighting manufacturers for over 28 years and when it comes to crystal chandeliers, we are industry experts. From our vantage point, the right light bulb choice is almost as important as the design.

What are Compact Fluorescent Bulbs?

Compact fluorescent bulbs, more commonly known as CFL are energy efficient alternatives to incandescent light bulbs.  They are simply a miniature version of fluorescent light.  The bulbs (lamps) screw into most standard light fixtures designed for Edison Screw or candelabra base sockets.

Compact fluorescent bulbs have been around since the 80’s. The integrated tubular and spiral lamps have a compact electronic ballast and tube all in one unit.  CFL’s are more energy efficient, produce less heat and longer lasting than incandescent and halogen bulbs.

You should be careful when installing and replacing the fluorescent bulb. Never force it into the socket and always handle it by the base, not the glass. CFL’s contain small amounts of mercury and can be toxic.  Therefore, the burnt out bulbs must be disposed of as hazardous waste or at a recycling facility.  They shouldn’t be put in the recycling or tossed out with normal household garbage.

Finally, they are good options for commercial spaces where the fixtures are on for a long period of time. However, CFL’s take time to warm up and have a poorer quality of light. It’s important to note that LED bulbs are replacing compact fluorescent, as they are far more energy and environmentally friendly.   As the cost of LED’s goes down the usage of CFL’s goes down as well.

CFL Bulbs and Crystal Chandeliers

Now that we have talked about the cost and environmental aspects, let’s look at the aesthetics of these usual looking spiral bulbs.  The milky white fluorescent lamp is fine for a light fixture that is enclosed or shaded.  They are also an alternative for table lamps.

Most importantly, we find the unattractive corkscrew design is distracting in a crystal chandelier where the bulbs are visible.  Aesthetically, we don’t find them the right choice for any decorative chandelier where the light bulb is visible. The majority of compact fluorescent bulbs are not dimmable. We always recommend that a crystal light fixture have a dimmer switch.  You want to be able to control the brightness and level of light output.

In addition, when it comes to crystal, there is no contest.  Clear halogen, LED or incandescent lamps win against CFL’s every time. We always recommend a clear bulb to play off the crystal prisms and not detract from the look of the light fixture.  The prime purpose of the light bulb is illumination not  distraction. To learn more about crystal lighting, please read our blog on the Ultimate Crystal Chandelier Guide.

In our expert opinion, warm or soft white light is the best choice to allow a crystal light fixture to dazzle.  The warmth of the bulbs brings out the reflective qualities of the prisms.  Soft and warm white have a low color temperature which is ideal for crystal. The harsher light emitted from a compact fluorescent doesn’t highlight the most important feature of crystal – the sparkle!

To Sum Up

To recap our take on CFL’s is they are NOT for crystal lighting!  If energy efficiency and being eco-friendly is your goal opt for LED’s. If aesthetics are your priority stick to halogen or incandescent while you still can.

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