Identifying CFL Bulbs

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated January 5, 2022)

Have you ever come across a light bulb in your house that you could quite identify? With the rising popularity of CFLs (or compact fluorescent light bulbs as they are more properly known) this isn't that surprising of a scenario. Is there some way of identifying CFL bulbs from regular incandescent bulbs? That is, without relying heavily on the box? Actually, there are a few ways that you can identify between light bulbs. Keep in mind that some of these will require you to do a little testing, and the others will require a little objectivity.

  • Appearance. Strictly speaking, there is no set appearance for a CFL bulb. However, there are enough out there that appear the same way that you can use this as a great guide for identifying CFL bulbs. This general appearance is going to be of two tubes coiled around each other, tapering near the apex to give a similar shape to a regular light bulb. There are other kinds of CFLs that have an appearance of two or three tubes that jut straight out before bending back on themselves, but the first type is more prevalent.
  • Heat. One way that you can identify CFL bulbs from incandescent light bulbs is the heat. CFLs produce less heat than their incandescent counterparts. In fact, they produce about 75% less heat than the traditional light bulb. While you could always hold your hand near a light bulb and test its heat that way, it would be better to use a thermometer. Those that are lower in the heat range are more than likely going to be a CFL bulb.
  • Longevity. On the average, a CFL will last around 10 times longer than the average light bulb. The only way to really tell if you have a CFL bulb (which doesn't look like one of those described earlier) will be to pay close attention to how often you need to change the light bulbs. If you have a particular light bulb which has not been changed in a very long time, while those around it have, then it could very well be CFL bulb.
  • Identifying marks. Many times you can find identifying marks either on a CFL bulb, or if you are lucky, the box they are stored in. These marks are beyond any simple statement that says "CFL" or Compact Fluorescent Light bulb". Often, these markings will say something to the effect of listing a K-rating (or Kelvin Rating) which lists the brightness of the bulb. In addition you may see something along the lines of X Watt = Y Watt. The lower number (X) usually signifies a CFL Wattage which is equivalent to an incandescent bulb's Wattage (Y). If you see these markings, then you are more than likely dealing with a CFL bulb.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


What's with the Blue Headlights?

Get the insider information on why blue headlights are making a splash in the automotive world.

Discover More

How to Stop Bedwetting

Bedwetting is not only an embarrassing event for children, it also means an increase in chores and cleaning time. If you ...

Discover More

Cleaning Stained Auto Glass

Over time auto glass has a tendency to become stained and etched, which makes it more difficult to see out of. If auto ...

Discover More

Find the Right Tool Right Away Finally, a homeowner's set that includes all the tools needed to complete basic DIY projects at an affordable price! The tools are stored in a molded case for security and portability. Check out Stanley 65-Piece Homeowner's Tool Kit today!

More Home Improvement Tips

Replacement Lamps

The lighting in your home might not be the first thing you notice, but these fixtures still have an impact on the look ...

Discover More

Repairing a Lampshade

Lamps have a way of creating mood lighting or simply adding extra light to a particularly dark room. If your lampshade ...

Discover More

Glass Lampshades

Everything you display in your home can impact the overall look of your interior, including lamps. Using glass lampshades ...

Discover More

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three more than 6?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)