What About Cold Cathode Lamps?
We have been getting a number of questions lately about cold cathode lamps. In keeping with our philosophy of using the best technology available, we investigated cold cathode technology several years ago and rejected it for several reasons. The manufacturers we talked with didn't recommend their use for area lighting. They are designed for illuminating instruments and LCD displays; applications requiring small amounts of light in precise locations. The only way to get enough light for area lighting is to use a lens that focuses most of the light straight down. While this does provide adequate light over a small spot, it is at the expense of wide-angle illumination. Although cold cathode tubes have a long life, when they do burn out, they are not user replaceable. The entire fixture must be replaced unless it can be returned to the manufacturer for tube replacement. As always, our advice is to make side-by-side comparisons. A 9-watt Alpenglow light on low uses about the same power as a 5-watt cold cathode light. Compare the brightness, not only directly beneath the fixtures, but at various angles off to the side. There are good reasons why every manufacturer of high-efficiency lighting for residential use uses compact fluorescent technology.