Fluorescent Bulb Salesman

Tommy P

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Nov 16, 2003
Mid North Indiana
This guy is coming back soon so I need some guidance.

We have ten foot ceilings in our showroom area with strip lighting of 8' fluorescent tubes. Not my choice of lighting but it's what we have. Some halogen track lighting over corner samples helps some but the overwhelming main light is the 8'tubes.

This salesman is coming back with what he calls "long life" natural light bulbs to show me. They sound very expensive. He has'nt told me the cost yet.

I remember others talking about these special fluorescent bulbs on the G. Anyone with any advice or thoughts? I have known for sometime that our lighting is not the best but could this be the answer or just a flim flam?

Different bulbs have different white points (aka Color temperatures) (ie, they look "bluer" or "yellower")

Usually, when a light bulb guy says "natural" light he is referrign to something higher than 5000 K -- bright, "sunlight." These are the bulbs they use in hair solons etc. to improve color selection. It's intended to be more like the sun. He may refer to 860s.

They will improve the color matching capability in your shop, but they will also make it "colder" feeling. They don't have as warm and homey feeling as more "yellow" bulbs do.

I'm sure that didn't help at all!
Tommy -
We use "Daylight" fluorescent in our shop. We had tried the "Vita-lites" and they were very good for judging correct color when we were running our photo lab - however the "Daylight" lamps were just as good and about 1/3rd the cost!
Remember a combination of light is what is used in most peoples homes (daylight & incandescent) and you should try to duplicate that in your gallery.
I would recommend using bulbs with a color temp of 3500K to 5000K. Also look at the CRI (color rendering index). This should be as high as possible while avoiding the "cold" feeling Cliff mentioned. Almost anything is going to beat the standard "cool white" bulbs and/or those annoying pink ones.
:cool: Rick
Just a thought, before you purchase them, ask him if he has sold any locally; if he has, take a look at the store that they are in to see if you like them. It could be like Cliff Wilson said , "they will make it 'colder' feeling." You may even put one regular and one natural light bulb in each fixture.

We just have regular fluorescent tubes, too. One thing we did to make the lighting better in addition to some hidden track lighting is add nice looking lamps all over the showroom to take away from the boring fluorescent look.
Originally posted by Tommy P:

This salesman is coming back with what he calls "long life" natural light bulbs to show me. They sound very expensive. He has'nt told me the cost yet.
You bet they are expensive.
A customer of mine used to be in R/D for Phillips. I told him about the lamps I purchased and he promptly opened a couple of fixtures to point out the lamps were already dying because the rep neglected to tell me to replace the ballasts. (the lamps were only 6 weeks old). The owner of the company and I went round and round about the problem and finally came to settlement. I bet your salesman will disagree about changing the ballasts as well.

I like the light produced by the lamps but as Cliff pointed out they are pretty harsh, so I mixed them with regular lamps to balance out the light in the space.

Btw, the fixtures were only 1-½ years old.
You also might check with your local power company. Mine (Massachusetts Electric) had an "energy savings initiative" a couple of years ago. They came in and replaced all (about 2 dozen fixtures) my ballasts and all my bulbs (with 860s) and I only had to pay 10% of the reatil cost. They sent electricians in and did a $2100 dollar job at about $200 cost to me!
Originally posted by Tommy P:
This guy is coming back soon so I need some guidance.
Did you call him in the first place or is he soliciting business? My experience with "light bulb salesman" is similar to toner telemarketers.

If he is legitimately selling a quality product at a reasonable price, beware that generally speaking you will trade off life with lumens (how "bright" it is), color and price. You're not going to get everything - it's a balance of what works best for you.
Generally, the wider the color spectrum emitted by the lamp, the higher its price. Full-spectrum lamps yield the best color rendition.

The problem is that almost nobody has that kind of lighting at home, so there may be disappointment when the framed thing that looked great in the gallery looks less attractive at home. I prefer to show things in lighting similar to my typical customer's display environment.

Long life? Every fluorescent lamp I've seen is designed for 2,000 hours of useful life. A few will go dark, but most fluorescent lamps will emit light for years, as their lumen output continues to decline; it drops off dramatically after 2,000 hours. That's why a place can look dark with old fluorescent lamps that are still glowing, but their light output has diminished to almost nothing.

I once knew a fellow who provided the service of replacing fluorescent lamps in commercial offices on a specific schedule. He used manufacturer-provided test data to sell his service based on diminishing light output. Then he would resell his "used" fluorescent lamps taken out of offices after 2,000 hours of use, and guarantee buyers that they would "burn" for at least a year. Indeed, most of them would light up for at least a year, but their light output was abysmal.

So, unless you have a light meter and are prepared to put this salesman to task on the basis of certain light output for a specific period of time, do not be impressed by any claim of "long life".

The "long life" claim typically is a hoax. Yes, the company probably WILL replace any lamps that go dark before their guaranteed life is up -- if you make a claim. But odds are that you will not keep track of the installation dates, or you will not bother with the warranty claim process when you find one or two bad lamps -- you will replace them and be done with it.

For most of us, it is better to pay full price for lamps we know are good from sources we know are reputable, and then plan to replace them after 2,000 hours of burning time.
Hi. Im my shop and in my home i use the 48" "daylight" florescent tubes. The 8 ft tubes are a lot more expensive than 2 4 ft tubes. When a customer looks at the the matboards the colors are more "true" than with tubes that give a "yellowish" glow...
Beware if they want some ridiculous price for the lamps. You can usually find high quality, good lumen output, high CRI lamps from the common manufactures in the BB centers.

A good quality lamp on the proper ballast should maintain a high lumen output for over 10,000 hours. There was a problem with some low mercury lamps that became mercury starved after several hundred hours of operation and became dim too early. This should not be a problem now.

I recommend a color temperature of 3500-4100K for a frame shop/gallery. Avoid the 2900K range. I have a he11 of a time choosing mat colors under this light and have to walk over to a window.

Choose a lamp with a high CRI of 80 or more. Beware that some ultra high CRI lamps give nice color rendering at the cost of lumen output.

Beware of “full spectrum” sales speak. Fluorescent lamps have emission lines in their spectra by their nature and thus cannot technically be full spectrum. Just look for high CRI lamps.

Finally, beware that this guy is going to “smooth it on” and apply some pressure to get you to spend way more then you ever need.

Visit the USENET group sci.eng.lighting to get the skinny on lighting. The Grumblesville for lighting.
I ditto what everyone has said.

I use the "color corrected" daylight bulbs.

If you want "long life" use 130 volt bulbs. In most situations they will last about 3 times as long as 120 volt bulbs.

At Home Depot or Lowes these bulbs will be about 2.5 times the cost of the regular bulbs but worth it.