How Fluorescent Lamps Work

How Stuff Works

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You see fluorescent lighting everywhere these days -- in offices, stores, warehouses, street corners... You'll even find fluorescent lamps in peoples' homes. But even though they're all around us, these devices are a total mystery to most people. Just what is going on inside those white tubes?

In this article, we'll find out how fluorescent lamps emit such a bright glow without getting scalding hot like an ordinary light bulb. We'll also find out why fluorescent lamps are more efficient than incandescent lighting, and see how this technology is used in other sorts of lamps.

Let There Be Light

To understand fluorescent lamps, it helps to know a little about light itself. Light is a form of energy that can be released by an atom. It is made up of many small particle-like packets that have energy and momentum but no mass. These particles, called light photons, are the most basic units of light. (For more information, see How Light Works.)

How Recycling Fluorescent Lamps Works

When a fluorescent lamp burns out, it needs to be recycled due to its hazardous mercury content. An Air Cycle lamp recycling method is an efficient and simple way to get spent lamps from a facility to a recycling center for processing. Explore the lamp recycling process or learn more » Air Cycle lamp recycling solutions
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