How do I Choose the Best Fluorescent Fixtures?

J. Beam

Choosing fluorescent fixtures, also known as linear lighting or high bay fluorescents, depends on several factors. Like other light fixtures, fluorescent fixtures are available in different styles including recessed, industrial, and decorative. They are common in basements, kitchens, high task areas and areas of the home where lighting may be required but doesn’t already exist. Choosing a fixture is a matter of deciding the type and amount of lighting needed as well as the finished appearance.

CFL light bulbs will fit nearly all light fixtures.
CFL light bulbs will fit nearly all light fixtures.

Fluorescent fixtures are primarily composed of a ballast, starter, bulb, and power source. There are several advantages of choosing fluorescent lighting, including bulb life and energy savings. While fluorescent lighting was once considered unflattering and posed minor annoyances like slow starts and flickering, bulbs are now available that do away with those issues. You can get warm or cool lighting and instant start bulbs. They all last significantly longer than a traditional incandescent bulb and are typically brighter, but produce less glare. This makes fluorescent lighting ideal for reading areas, under cabinets, in large rooms with low natural lighting and task areas like kitchens and laundry rooms.

Fluorescent fixtures are also known as linear lighting.
Fluorescent fixtures are also known as linear lighting.

When choosing fluorescent fixtures, keep in mind the rating of the ballast. Ballasts have a rating that indicates sound with A being the quietest and C producing the most noise. The noise you hear could be described as an electric “humming” sound and can become annoying. If you encounter a particular fixture that you like, you can always change the ballast to an A rating ballast when installing or replace the ballast in an existing fixture.

If you want to install fluorescent fixtures, you can find many styles to match your interior. Some linear lights are encased in wood for a traditional look and others are recessed and modern looking. The availability of different lens covers provides additional style options and some even mimic the look of leaded glass. Be wary of installing custom or special order fixtures that use bulbs that are not readily available and easy to purchase.

Conversely, if you are interested in switching to fluorescent lighting as an energy saving measure, you can find a wide variety of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to fit most any light fixture. Some ceiling fans require medium-base bulbs that are not readily available as fluorescents, so again, check the type and availability of bulbs for any fixture before buying to save the hassle of bulb replacement down the road.

Fluorescent tubes require special light fixtures.
Fluorescent tubes require special light fixtures.

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