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Can Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) be used in recessed cans, outdoor lights, or track lighting?

  • Yes! Always read the packaging of the CFL to be sure of its proper application, but there are a wide variety of  ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs  that are designed for use in most fixtures in your home, including recessed cans, outdoor lights, and track lighting. Use our Advanced Product Search  to find CFLs with the features you want.




Do compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) use less energy than incandescent bulbs when the energy required to make the bulbs is also considered?

  • Yes. CFLs use substantially less energy (and cause fewer emissions of greenhouse gases) than an equivalent incandescent even when the energy necessary to manufacture the bulbs is considered. This is for several reasons: (1) a CFL uses substantially less energy when it is on than an incandescent bulb does, 75% less, (2) one CFL will last up to ten times longer than an incandescent, so an appropriate comparison includes 8 or more incandescents for every CFL, and (3) manufacturers tell us it takes much less energy to manufacture a CFL than the energy it will use over its lifetime. ENERGY STAR recognizes CFLs based on the energy used while the bulb is on, helping consumers choose the bulb with lowest overall energy use and green house gas emissions.




Do LEDs create heat?

  •  LEDs don't feel hot to the touch like other light sources. Incandescent bulbs produce heat that is felt in the beam of light, much like the heat that is felt from sunlight. The light from LEDs does not create additional heat in a room. Nevertheless, LEDs do create some heat that can affect the light quantity and quality over time. To combat the negative effects of heat on LED performance, manufacturers incorporate heat sinks in their designs to transfer heat from the LED. Like a cold spoon that warms up in a hot cup of water, the heat leaves the LED through the heat sink, in a process called conduction, without emitting heat. The metallic fin-like features commonly found on LED bulbs and fixtures are heat sinks.




How do CFLs result in less mercury in the environment compared to traditional light bulbs?

  • Electricity use is the main source of mercury emissions in the U.S. CFLs use less electricity than incandescent lights, meaning CFLs reduce the amount of mercury into the environment. A 13-watt, 8,000-rated-hour-life CFL (60-watt equivalent; a common light bulb type) will save 376 kWh over its lifetime, thus avoiding 4.3 mg of mercury. If the bulb goes to a landfill, overall emissions savings would drop a little, to 3.9 mg. EPA recommends that CFLs are recycled where possible, to maximize mercury savings.

    More on CFLs and mercury:



How should Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) be disposed? Do they need to be recycled?

  • Because Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) contain a small amount of mercury, EPA recommends that consumers take advantage of available local recycling options for CFLs:

    1) These major retailers offer free CFL recycling for unbroken bulbs:

    2) These websites have databases of recycling options:

    3) Or contact your local municipal solid waste agency

    If your state or local environmental regulatory agency permits you to put used or broken CFLs in the garbage, seal the bulb in a plastic bag and put it into the outside trash, or other protected outside location, for the next scheduled trash collection. Never send a fluorescent light bulb or any other mercury-containing product to an incinerator.




I want to replace my incandescent light bulbs. How do I select the best CFL?

  • Finding an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL  that will put out the same amount of light as your current incandescent bulb is easy. Manufacturers include product equivalency information on the packaging to help consumers choose a bulb that produces enough light. For example, if you are looking for an ENERGY STAR qualified light bulb to replace your 60-watt incandescent, look for words like “Soft White 60”, or “60 Watt Replacement” on the packaging.

    You can also refer to the chart below to as a guide for selecting the right bulb. A watt is actually a measure of power consumption. When purchasing a light bulb, what you are really after is light output, which is measured in lumens. When you purchase a 60-watt incandescent bulb, you are getting about 800 lumens. By selecting a 13-watt ENERGY STAR qualified CFL instead, you can still get 800 lumens, but it requires much less power.

    Energy Use for Incandescent Light Bulbs


    Minimum Light Output


    Energy Use for common

    ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs (Watts)



    4 to 9



    9 to 13



    13 to 15



    18 to 25



    23 to 30



    28 to 40



    30 to 52

    Be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR mark on the product packaging. ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs must pass product quality and performance tests to earn the ENERGY STAR, so CFLs with the ENERGY STAR mark are a notch above the others.

    Also, make sure you choose the right light for the right place, and that you read the CFL packaging. For example, for popular recessed ceiling fixtures (also called recessed cans), choose a CFL made for this application. In addition, only a handful of CFLs currently work well on dimmer and remote switches, or come with a 3-way switching feature. Read the packaging to be sure you properly place your new CFL and get the best performance.

    If you are having trouble locating lower wattages or specialty bulbs, try an online retailer for a better selection.



Is there ENERGY STAR qualified LED lighting?

  • Yes, currently there are ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures, screw-in replacement bulbs, and decorative light strings that use light emitting diodes (LEDs).

    ENERGY STAR qualified LED lights consume 75% less energy than conventional incandescent lights.




What is a CFL?

  • CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamp, and it is a small fluorescent light bulb that uses 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and can be screwed into a regular light socket. Don’t let the fact that it is fluorescent turn you off!  ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs  must pass extensive testing to ensure they produce only the highest quality light.

    Qualified bulbs labeled “warm white” or “soft white” produce light like typical incandescent light bulbs. CFLs that have a cooler color (similar to bright white incandescent bulbs) are usually labeled “bright white” or “daylight” on the product packaging.  More on choosing the right CFL color for you.




Why should people use CFLs?

  • Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an effective, accessible change every American can make right now to reduce energy use at home and prevent greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. Lighting accounts for close to 20% of the average home’s electric bill. Changing to CFLs costs little upfront and provides a quick return on investment.

    If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of more than 800,000 cars annually.




Aren’t all LED lights highly efficient and long-lasting?

  • Not necessarily. LEDs have been efficient and long lasting as indicator lights in electronics for years, but using LEDs to create stable white light for general lighting presents new challenges. The key to success is smart design. To qualify for ENERGY STAR, LED lighting products must pass a variety of tests to prove that the products will display the following characteristics:

    • Brightness is equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies (incandescent or fluorescent) and light is well distributed over the area lighted by the fixture.
    • Light output remains constant over time, only decreasing towards the end of the rated lifetime (at least 25,000 hours or 22 years based on use of 3 hours per day).
    • Excellent color quality. The shade of white light appears clear and consistent over time.
    • Efficiency is as good as or better than fluorescent lighting.
    • Light comes on instantly when turned on.
    • No flicker when dimmed.
    • No off-state power draw. The fixture does not use power when it is turned off, with the exception of external controls, whose power should not exceed 0.5 watts in the off state.

    Bad design can lead to a wide range of problems, some immediately observable and some not. Poorly designed products often come with exaggerated claims while failing to deliver on the quality specifications above.

    Choose ENERGY STAR quailified LED fixtures to ensure the products you purchase perform well.



Basic parts of LED lighting

  • LED lighting starts with a tiny chip (most commonly about one square millimeter) comprised of layers of semi-conducting material. LED packages may contain just one chip or multiple chips, mounted on heat-conducting material called a heat sink and usually enclosed in a lens. The resulting device, typically around 7 to 9 mm on a side, can be used separately or in arrays. LED devices are mounted on a circuit board, which can be programmed to include lighting controls such as dimming, light sensing and pre-set timing. The circuit board is mounted on another heat sink to manage the heat from all the LEDs in the array. The system is then encased in a lighting fixture, architectural structure, or even a “light bulb” package.



Can ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs be used with dimmer switches?

  • The short answer is: yes, certain ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs are made to work on dimmers. Be sure to check the fine print on the back of the packaging for the proper applications to see if there are any restrictions on the product’s use. Dimming an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL that is not designed to work with a dimmer switch can shorten its life significantly.

    To find a list of dimmable CFLs, visit the FEIT.COM and search on "Dimmable CFL." Your local hardware store may not stock a wide variety of dimmable CFLs, so if you are looking for a specific wattage or bulb type, you may want to try to purchase it online.

    The longer answer is: CFL ballasts are designed for a specific input voltage and are not designed to handle changes in input voltage, and imposing them can cause the circuitry to malfunction or not be able to effectively light the lamp or keep the current through the lamp well regulated.  This can significantly shorten the lifespan of the product.
    Newer dimmers are actually semiconductor devices that turn the switch on and off very rapidly - 120 times per second in normal designs. Because CFLs have a finite start-up time, and because frequent switching shortens bulb lifetime, these switches prevent the CFL from working optimally, and cause it to burn out quickly.
    Manufacturers compensate for these problems by designing the power electronics within the ballast to deal with these issues. This requires more complicated and more expensive parts. Alternatively, you can design a special dimming switch for CFLs that put those power electronics before the switch rather than after it. This is more expensive, however, and requires a bigger retrofit.
    Even with this "fix" there are expectations for dimmable products that need to be addressed. First, dimmers can dim an incandescent from 100%-0% of the total light output smoothly and continuously. Even for those who have the appropriate power electronics, CFLs are not able to dim to 0%. Most dimmable CFLs can only dim to somewhere between 10 and 20% of initial light output. Second, as incandescent bulbs dim, the color of the bulbs gets "warmer," that is, the correlated color temperature drops. As CFLs dim, their color temperature remains constant. Because of this phenomenon (known as "amber shift"), many consumers who do use dimmable CFLs do not get the ambiance they are hoping for.




Can I use compact fluorescent bulbs in 3-way fixtures?

  • We make special CFLs that work in 3-way fixtures. A non-3-way CFL will only operate on the second setting of a 3-way socket.


Can I use compact fluorescent bulbs in damp environments?

  • Indoor compact fluorescent bulbs operate best in dry locations. Their performance and lifespan may be affected by humidity. Indoor/outdoor CFLs are specifically designed to withstand exposure to moisture.


Can I use compact fluorescent bulbs in fully enclosed or recessed fixtures?

  • Though not all CFLs can be used in these applications, we do offer an assortment of CFLs for use in totally enclosed fixtures and high-heat rated indoor/outdoor reflectors for use in recessed fixtures.


Can I use compact fluorescent bulbs outside?

  • Provided the bulb is kept dry and protected from the elements, most compact fluorescent bulbs will work outside. Their performance and lifespan can be affected by humidity or extremely cold weather, so for exposed fixtures, we make special indoor/outdoor weatherproof bulbs.


Can I use compact fluorescent bulbs with a dimmer?

  • We make specially designed dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs that operate normally with most dimmers used in residential applications. Standard CFLs are not dimmable and are not recommended for use with dimmable circuits.


Can I use compact fluorescent bulbs with timers, motion detectors, dusk to dawn fixtures or emergency light fixtures?

  • Compact fluorescents bulbs are not generally recommended for these applications. Using them with such devices can affect their performance and lifespan. New products, such as dusk to dawn fixtures designed for fluorescent use, are being introduced for these kinds of specialized applications.


How are compact fluorescent light bulbs different than incandescent bulbs?

  • First, they use about 75% less electricity to produce the same amount of light. This saves money in energy costs while also preventing greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere. Second, they are rated to last for many years in recommended applications with normal use – often up to 10 years or more – so they also save money by eliminating the need to replace bulbs as often.


How are LED lighting products different from other lighting, like fluorescent or incandescent?

  • LEDs emit light in a specific direction, whereas an incandescent or fluorescent bulb emits light — and heat — in all directions. For direct lighting applications LED lighting uses both light and energy more efficiently.

    For example, an incandescent or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb inside of a recessed can will waste about half of the light that it produces, while a recessed down light with LEDs only produces light where it’s needed — in the room below.

    Incandescent bulbs create light by passing electricity through a metal filament until it becomes so hot that it glows. Incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat.

    In a CFL, an electric current is driven through a tube containing gases. This reaction produces ultraviolet light that gets transformed into visible light by the fluorescent coating (called phosphor) on the inside of the tube.

    LED lighting products use light emitting diodes to produce light very efficiently. The movement of electrons through a semiconductor material illuminates the tiny light sources we call LEDs. A small amount of heat is released backwards, into a heat sink, in a well-designed product; LEDs are basically cool to the touch.

    LED lighting, when designed well, can be more efficient, durable, versatile and longer lasting than incandescent and fluorescents lighting.

    LED lighting, when designed well, can be more efficient, durable, versatile and longer lasting than incandescent and fluorescents lighting.



How do I know what compact fluorescent bulb wattage to use?

  • All of our packaging clearly indicates the CFL wattage and equivalent incandescent wattage, making it easy to compare. Generally speaking, compact fluorescent bulbs produce the same amount of light by using about a quarter of the energy. To save energy costs, find the bulbs with the light output you need, then choose the ones with the lowest watts.


I hear incandescent light bulbs are being phased out? Is that true?

  • The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (the “Energy Bill”), signed by President George W. Bush on December 18, 2007 requires all light bulbs use 30% less energy than today’s incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014. The phase-out will start with 100-watt bulbs sold starting in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs sold starting in January 2014. By 2020, a Tier 2 would become effective which requires all bulbs to be at least 70% more efficient (effectively equal to today’s CFLs).

    The standards set by the bill are technology neutral, meaning any technology can qualify. In the near future, a "next generation" of incandescent bulbs could satisfy the 30% increased efficiency. There are also other lighting technologies, such as halogen and LEDs that will be able to meet the new requirements and are expected to both increase in performance and drop in cost over the next few years. 


     Today’s Bulbs

    After the Standard

    Standard Effective Date

    100 watt

    ≤ 72 watts

    January 1, 2012 

    75 watt

    ≤ 53 watts

    January 1, 2013 

    60 watt

    ≤ 43 watts

    January 1, 2014 

    40 watt

    ≤ 29 watts

    January 1, 2014 

    There are many types of incandescent bulbs that are exempt from this law:
    --any kind of specialty light (ie. bulb in refrigerator)
    --reflector bulbs
    --3-way bulbs
    --shatter resistant
    --vibration service
    --rough service
    --colored bulbs (i.e. "party bulbs")
    --bug lights
    --plant lights

    The law applies to the sale of bulbs, not the use of existing stock of bulbs.




Is there any special handling I should be aware of prior to or during installation?

  • Compact fluorescent bulbs have glass tubes and should be handled with care. When installing the bulb, always hold it by the base to prevent breakage, and never force a CFL into a socket.


Is there mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs? Should I be concerned?

  • All fluorescent light bulbs require mercury to operate. Compact fluorescent bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury. Unless a bulb is broken, compact fluorescent bulbs do not release mercury and are as safe to use as standard incandescent bulbs. Feit Electric is at the forefront of reducing the amount of mercury in its bulbs. ECObulb PLUS CFLs voluntarily surpass strict RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) European environmental standards.


Should there be a clear sticker pealing off of my LED shoplight or LED tube?

  • This is a protective sticker and should be pealed off once installation is completed.


What are LEDs?

  • LED stands for light-emitting diode. LEDs are small light sources that become illuminated by the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material. LEDs can be integrated into all sorts of products to provide white and colored light, such as flashlights, light bulbs, and integrated light fixtures.

    Low-Powered LEDs

    LEDs used to draw attention to something, such as an exit sign,
    a green power button on a computer, or a red blinking
    light on a video camera.

    High-Powered LEDs

    LEDs used to illuminate an area. ENERGY STAR qualified LED lighting uses multiple illuminator LEDs inside a fixture to produce white light.



What if a bulb burns out prematurely?

  • In residential applications, ENERGY STAR® compliant CFL bulbs have a two year warranty and commercially used CFLs have a one year warranty. If a bulb fails prematurely, please contact our customer service department at 866-326-BULB (2852) Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm PST.


What is Solid-State Lighting?

  • LEDs are part of a family of lighting technologies called Solid-State lighting. This family also includes OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). OLEDs (pronounced OH-leds) consist of sheets of carbon-based compounds that glow when a current is applied through transparent electrodes. While not yet market ready, OLEDs will function like a thin film on a wall or ceiling that illuminates a room. Like LEDs, OLED technology is advancing rapidly.

    Solid-State lighting (SSL), most commonly seen in the form of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), has the potential to revolutionize the efficiency, appearance, and quality of lighting as we know it.

    The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that rapid adoption of LED lighting in the U.S. by 2027 could;

    • Deliver savings of about $265 billion.
    • Avoid 40 new power plants.
    • Reduce lighting electricity demand by 33% in 2027.



What is the difference between a Soft White, Bright White and Daylight compact fluorescent bulb? How do I know which color temperature to choose?

  • Shades of white light are measured in degrees Kelvin, where lower degrees indicate yellower light and higher degrees indicate whiter or bluish white light. Soft White (2700° Kelvin) is the warmest option that most closely approximates a standard incandescent bulb. It is most often used in areas like living rooms. Bright White (3500° - 4100° Kelvin) is a whiter light than soft white and is most often selected for kitchens and bathrooms or work spaces. Daylight (6000° - 6500° Kelvin) is recommended for reading areas or for use in craft rooms and is a more bluish white that most closely approximates an outdoor overcast sky.


What is the rated life for a CFL based on?

  • The life ratings assume continuous use for 3 hours per day every day under recommended conditions. The actual performance of any individual bulb will depend on the unique application in which it is used.


When should compact fluorescent bulbs not be used?

  • Applications vary from one bulb to the next, so cautions appear on our packaging. There are specific compact fluorescent lamps designed for nearly all applications. Generally speaking, compact fluorescent bulbs are not recommended for fully enclosed recessed fixtures, timers, motion detectors, dusk to dawn fixtures or emergency light fixtures. They are also not recommended in fixtures that are typically turned on for less than 15 minutes at a time. For specific questions about CFL usage, feel free to contact our customer service department at 866-326-BULB (2852) Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm PST.


Where can I use compact fluorescent bulbs? What are my choices?

  • Compact fluorescent bulbs can be used in most household fixtures. They are most commonly used in table lamps, floor lamps, decorative fixtures, wall sconces, outdoor lanterns, security light fixtures, indoor recessed fixtures, track lighting systems and more. CFLs are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Most popular CFL bulbs include twists, mini-twists, 3-way twists, covered A-shape bulbs, indoor and outdoor high heat rated reflectors and dimmable twists.