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Thread: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

  1. #1

    Default Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Hi folks, I am writing up a guide to the Circline round fluorescent fixtures for eBay. I was hoping that one of my fellow kindly and well informed CPFers might take a peek and gently explain to me if they feel improvements are needed?

    ************************************************** ********************
    Several improvements incorporated as of March 17, thanks guys!
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    Fixtures that use the round Circline style fluorescent tubes can be a good choice in some situations. You can assume that a Circline tube will give the same amount of light as an incandescent bulb that uses about three to four times as much power, and will have a life expectancy that is about ten times as long as an incandescent.

    Circlines are better than compact fluorescents (CFL's) in that you can put them in a fully enclosed fixture and the heat will not bother them. CFL's often say right on the box that they cannot be used in an enclosed fixture because they may overheat and die young. Circlines also don't care if you burn them base up, down, or sideways. Circlines share the weakness of all fluorescents, compact or not, that being turned on and off many times a day can shorten their lives.

    You should be able to pick up a 54 watt Circline fixture for around $20 either on eBay or in a big box store. Such a fixture will use about 60 watts (the ballast uses power too) and produce the light of about a 175 watt incandescent bulb. If you buy in a store the bulbs will be separate, on eBay bulbs may be included.

    54 Watt "Coronet" style fixture uses one 22 and one 32 watt bulb, is cheap and effective, has retro/modern style. It is easy to add a shade to match any setting. Common on eBay and Lowes.

    The tubes come in four common sizes:

    6", 8", 12", 16". The inch measurement refers to the nominal size of the circle, measured from outside to outside. A given fixture will use either one or two bulbs, the one nested inside the other. The bulbs are widely available both online and off.



    What do those numbers on the bulb mean?


    Let's take a typical number like "FC16T9". The "FC" part means fluorescent, the "16" is the diameter of the bulb in inches, the "T9" means that the bulb has a tube shaped cross section and is 9/8's of an inch thick. T9 is the oldest and most common style. If you run across a bulb that says "T5" in this spot it is a more modern T5 bulb and needs a T5 ballast. The T5's are thinner, newer, and will give you more light per watt.

    FC12T9/KB: Fluorescent, twelve inches across, Tube shaped cross section 9/8's of an inch thick. The "KB" part is a GE code for Kitchen & Bath.

    FC8T9/D: Fluorescent, 8 inches across, T9 bulb, Daylight white color.

    FC12T9/CW: Fluorescent, 12 inches across, T9 style, Cool white color.

    FC6T9/CW Fluorescent, 6 inches across, T9 tube, Cool white color.



    How well do they perform?

    Six inch, 20 watt, 800 lumens, about equal to a 60 watt incandescent
    Eight Inch, 22 watt, 925 lumens.........................70 watt incan
    twelve Inch, 32 watt, 2,000 Lumens...............,...125 watt incan
    Sixteen Inch, 40 watt, 2,500 Lumens..................140 watt

    Ballasts come in two kinds, electromagnetic (AKA magnetic) and electronic. If you pick up an old fixture in a random auction it will have the old style magnetic ballast. These ballasts are big and heavy. They look like a small metal shoebox and have one or two sets of wires coming out that end in four socket plugs. These plugs mate up with the four pins on your tube. The advantage of the magnetic ballasts is that they come with any old fixture and are ready to work as when you open the box. Their disadvantages are that they may be slow to start, they may buzz or hum, and below fifty or sixty degrees F. (10 ~ 15 C) they may work slowly or poorly.

    Typical Magnetic ballast. Note the four pins on the tube.

    The newer electronic ballasts start instantly at temperatures down to about zero F (-17 C) and don't hum, buzz or flicker. Their only disadvantage is that they can be hard to find. Nobody seems to keep them in stock. People have been known to buy a cheap new Circline fixture, remove the ballast and and discard the fixture, because it is cheaper and easier than finding someone to order you a ballast.


    This electronic ballast has one plug so it only runs one bulb. Some will do two.

    It is not really a good idea to use a ballast that has a different wattage than your bulb. Too strong of a ballast will overdrive your bulb and give it a short life. Underdriving it may not start it, may light only the ends of the tubes, and will not give full brightness

    Quality of the light:

    These tubes are available in Cool White (CW), sometimes Daylight White (DW) and Warm White. (WW) The CW is the old industry standard and the most common. They give the most light per watt, are the cheapest, and are widely available. Their disadvantage is that the light is somewhat unnatural and makes things look funny.

    The WW has a warmer and somewhat more pleasant light, but is usually a little less bright than a CW. I have found that using one of each kind in a fixture gives a nice balance of brightness and quality. The most common WW is the GE "Kitchen & Bath" series.


    The DW's are somewhat rare, enough so that I have not used them, but I suspect that they are an improved CW.

    New meaty Lowes Circline fixture.

    GE details on various of their Circline tubes:

    http://genet.gelighting.com/LightPro...Y=Lamps_Linear Fluorescent_Circular_T9&BREADCRUMP=Fluorescent_Sta ndard#T9
    Last edited by Ken_McE; 03-17-2009 at 05:36 PM.

  2. #2
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    seems good to me
    2 Inova T4's, one optic, one reflector, TF 2C Cree, Energizer 2AA "3W" Luxeon, Dorcy 3AAA "1W" focusing optic

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Seems fine to me, except for:

    "Circlines are better than compact fluorescents in that you can put them in a fully enclosed fixture and the heat will not bother them"

    This comes off as a marketing comment with no basis rather than a factual statement. You want to stick to the facts..... with just a bit of bias

    I know a lot of people that have CFLs inside of glass globes, etc., and they work fine. Try putting a circline inside a pendant or glass globe. Which is exactly the comparison you don't want somebody to visualize...so don't lead them there

    The main advantage of circlines over CFL is the exact same reason linear fluorescents have an advantage; the ability to choose a quality ballast and hence better longevity. I'd push that angle a bit harder.

    Also, the HID refererence is misileading. HID can either be more/less efficient than fluorescent, depending on application. For the record, T5 packs a bigger punch than circline in a small space because the bulbs can be put closer together.
    Last edited by blasterman; 03-14-2009 at 05:01 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by blasterman View Post
    "
    >Circlines are better than compact fluorescents in that you can put them
    >in a fully enclosed fixture and the heat will not bother them
    "

    This comes off as a marketing comment with no basis rather than a factual statement. You want to stick to the facts..... with just a bit of bias
    You can buy Circline fixtures that are sealed and have zero ventilation. The components don't seem to care.


    I know a lot of people that have CFLs inside of glass globes, etc., and they work fine. Try putting a circline inside a pendant or glass globe. Which is exactly the comparison you don't want somebody to visualize...so don't lead them there
    My impression, somewhat born out by comments on CPF, is that enclosing a CFL is a crapshoot. There are a few rare brands that are built to handle it, but most take poorly to captivity. If you read the boxes they usually specifically say "Don't do that". It's something I've done and had trouble with myself.

    The main advantage of circlines over CFL is the exact same reason linear fluorescents have an advantage; the ability to choose a quality ballast and hence better longevity. I'd push that angle a bit harder.
    Problem is, I don't have a good source for electronic Circline ballasts. I'm also unsure how much they want for them, if it's reasonable or exorbitant. I can't just steer folks off into the haze...

    Also, the HID refererence is misleading. HID can either be more/less efficient than fluorescent, depending on application.
    I was assuming T-12 Vs. HID. essentially all circlines are T9. My guess is that they are about the same efficiency as a T-12, but not anything fancier. I don't want to steer people towards things they probably can't find.

    For the record, T5 packs a bigger punch than circline in a small space because the bulbs can be put closer together.
    There is such a thing as a T-5 Circline. I have a warm white one in my basement . I didn't mention them because I doubt that normal people will find either the bulb or ballast.

    Maybe we could come up with one foot or sixteen inch T5 bulbs and stack them side by side like sardines...
    Last edited by Ken_McE; 03-14-2009 at 05:34 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken_McE View Post
    ... T-5 Circline.... .. I didn't mention them because I doubt that normal people will find either the bulb or ballast.
    So I guess your guide is only for 'normal' people ?

    If you're excluding T-5 lamps, you should state that...

    Also, it might be helpful to include an explanation of the part numbering ie FC6T9/WW, etc.
    Jim

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    One big disadvantage of Circline fluorescents is the lack of variety of tubes. There only seem to be the three types you mentioned readily available, and none of them have that great color rendering (CW and WW are ~62, DW about 70). Compare this to 4-foot linear T8 tubes which are commonly available in 5 color temperatures (3000K, 3500K, 4100K, 5000K, 6500K) and three different color rendering grades (78, 85-86, and 90+). It's a shame this is so because the Circline form factor is actually more easily integrated into many homes than linear tubes.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    brickbat:

    So I guess your guide is only for 'normal' people ?

    Joe Sixpack, as opposed to a more sophisticated CPF audience. You'll notice I left out things like color temperature, CRI, watts per lumen ratios, effects of aging on the bulb, mean time to failure, beam pattern, fixture losses, etc.

    If you're excluding T-5 lamps, you should state that...


    I left out all the rare and oddball items. Why confuse them with something they'll never find?

    Also, it might be helpful to include an explanation of the part numbering ie FC6T9/WW, etc.

    Good point.

    jtr1962:

    One big disadvantage of Circline fluorescents is the lack of variety of tubes. There only seem to be the three types you mentioned readily available, and none of them have that great color rendering

    While researching the article, and not finding any state of the art fluorescent Circline technology, I found myself starting to wonder if the manufacturers have abandoned this format, contenting themselves with operating old-but-paid-for production facilities and making a few bulbs for legacy installations.

    There are no T-8 equivalent Circline bulbs. All the tubes I've seen are T-9, which seems to be the round equivalent of T-12. I've only seen one lonesome round T-5 and I have no idea if I'll be able to get parts for it. Given how many governments are getting ready to put the squeeze on incans, right now seems like a great time for a 21st Century Circline resurgence, using 21st. century technology.


    Compare this to 4-foot linear T8 tubes which are commonly available in 5 color temperatures ... It's a shame this is so because the Circline form factor is actually more easily integrated into many homes than linear tubes.

    Exactly. The basic form factor is good, the fixtures are cheap and simple, but the whole field is being neglected. I don't know why.
    Last edited by Ken_McE; 03-14-2009 at 09:11 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Overall, very good.

    You mention a 54 watt bulb. Further down you list diameters up to 16" @ 40 watts. Where would 54 watt be.

    One major advantage of electronic ballasts is their improved efficiency over magnetic ballasts, I don't recall seeing that in your write-up. The lack of hum and flicker was enough to make me change out three magnetic ballast fixtures. You should also mention that even though electronic ballasts are hard to find, a consumer may never need to replace one.

    I would not mention it in your guide but one advantage of magnetic ballasts is that when they start to fail you will usually still get light, although with increased hum and flicker and reduced efficiency. When electronic ballasts fail, no light.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    You can buy Circline fixtures that are sealed and have zero ventilation. The components don't seem to care.
    Same with Iany CFL or any fluorescent technology. The biggest difference with Circline -vs- CFL is an external ballast -vs- an integrated one, and it's that potentially cheap ballast that causes the erratic quality with CFL. However, being 'erratic' in quality doesn't mean you can make broad claims.

    CFLs are always used as the whipping horse because all comparisons to them refer to cheap Feit brand bought at Walmart in packs of three for $4.99. I've used many CFLs in pretty brutal applications and environments while I've seen many circlines hanging from ceilings at odd angles because many of them have flaky brackets that break the first time you try to change them. However, I'm not making broad claims. :-)
    Problem is, I don't have a good source for electronic Circline ballasts

    Google:' Circline Electronic Ballast' please. If you're assuming your 'Joe SixPack' can't use the internet, where do you plan on posting this article?
    My guess is that they are about the same efficiency as a T-12, but not anything fancier. I don't want to steer people towards things they probably can't find.

    I'd probably agree with you on the T-12 thing, but be aware that HID has become more mainstream in the past couple years an easily rigged up from big box stores. I guess my real problem with the HID comparison is that other than some VERY uncommon track fixtures and PARs, HID woulnd't have an application comparison with Circline. It would be like.... somebody claiming low pressure sodium is more efficient than Circline...yeah, the statement is true, but why would you compare the two?
    Maybe we could come up with one foot or sixteen inch T5 bulbs and stack them side by side like sardines...

    Which *is* the format that T5 and T8's whoop all over other fluorescent formats; because they can be stacked side by side. A pair of T5's or T8's will beat a similiar wattage Circline in terms of light output because of the more efficient reflector alone, and the footprint will be smaller - doesn't matter if they are 14" or 48". The fact one design is long and the other round is an aethestic debate based on application and not a technical debate. If you have a long space you want to fill like under a counter for instance -vs- on the ceiling of a kitchen.
    Given how many governments are getting ready to put the squeeze on incans, right now seems like a great time for a 21st Century Circline resurgence

    No, we need to be pushing bi-pin CFL, which is both more readily available, has proven commercial viability/durability, and beats Circline easily in terms of light in a small footprint and flexibility.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken_McE View Post

    ...T-5 lamps.....Why confuse them with something they'll never find?
    http://cgi.ebay.com/FLUORESCENT-CIRC...QQcmdZViewItem

    I think your reference to HID is bound to cause more confusion than an explanation of T5 lamps would...
    Jim

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    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken_McE View Post
    ...
    The WW has a more pleasant and natural light...
    Not all would agree with this... Might it be more informative to say that WW lamps emphasize warm tones?
    Jim

  12. #12

    Default Re: Help Critique my Circline Fluorescent Guide?

    Wow......

    I'd tear into this one, but I'd be here all day. LOL.

    There is NO advantage to having a Circline over a CFL, with ONE exception. Price of replacement lamp. THat's all.

    If you think Circlines aren't subject to failure due to heat, you're wrong.
    Secondly, you dont' see electronic ballasts very much because only the import/chinese cheap manfg. make them. TRaditionally those are plastic cased which are MORE SUSEPTIBLE to failure due to heat.
    Thirdly, the Circline setup IS a dying breed.

    Why are you even touching Circlines and comparing them to HIDs? TOTALLY different avenue's.


    Blasterman made alot of very good points, and it seems OP that you came in here wanting approval more than feedback. You questioned more than half of what he stated.

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