The Next Generation of Programs for Accelerating Compact Fluorescent Technology in Residential Applications

Publication Type

Journal Article



With U.S. sales approaching 50 million lamps per year, compact fluorescent systems are seeing increased application in the lighting of commercial interiors primarily as a conservation measure and an approach to reduce maintenance costs because they are longer-lived than incandescent sources. Lamp and fixture manufacturers, utilities, government agencies, and environmental groups have created programs designed to accelerate the adoption of compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) technology for commercial applications. However, efforts to accelerate the penetration of CFLs in the residential market have been narrowly limited to utility rebate programs for screw-based compact fluorescent technology. Concerns relating to performance, consumer acceptance and economics, suggest that screw-based (as opposed to pinbased) technologies are at best an impermanent and short-term approach to the ultimate, widespread residential application of the compact fluorescent lamp. The proper implementation of CFLs deserves attention not only because the technology saves significant amounts of energy, but also because CFLs have become a pervasive symbol for energy-efficiency.

This paper reviews some background on residential CFL applications, proposes a national program to accelerate the adoption of efficient CFL technologies in the home, and introduces strategies to bring about their success. This program is based on the premise that dedicated fixtures designed for the explicit operation of the CFL offer the most effective and permanent solution for efficient residential lighting.

Using pin-based lamps in dedicated fixtures allows for easy re-lamping with maximum economic benefits. It also ensures and maintains the full realization of the energy saving potential and lighting quality when displacing incandescent loads. Equally important, dedicated fixtures can be designed to optimize the performance of the CFL in comparison to fixtures intended for screw-based technologies. With these prospective benefits in mind a national program aimed at accelerating the use of CFL systems in residential applications should focus its efforts to promote dedicated compact fluorescent fixtures. Thus, the program should be a long-term effort addressing multiple issues in different market segmentsswith the cooperation of various partners, including manufacturers, utilities, designers and consumer groups.

Dedicated CFL fixtures can find great success in the residential sector in much the same way as pinbased long fluorescent tubes displaced incandescents in the commercial sector in the 1940s, and pin-based halogen lamps swept into popularity in homes in the 1980s.


Lighting Design + Application

Year of Publication



Research Areas

Related Files