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Fluorescent Strip Lighting explored

Author: Martin James
Published: September 16, 2013

They may cost a little more than most other forms of lights, but today's fluorescent strip lights more than pay for themselves in improved lighting performance and energy efficiency. Let's take a closer look at how fluorescent lighting can brighten up your home or home office, and save you money in the process.

Multiple options

Strip lights are a popular alternative to your standard incandescent lighting solution, offering a more even spread of light and a physical form factor that's equally at home subtly illuminating the inside of a cabinet as it is bathing a large kitchen in bright light.

The emergence of LED strip lighting has only added to that flexibility, providing increased efficiency and taking up less space in the process.

But while cabinet strip lights and LED flexistrip lights are perfect for adding subtle lighting highlights to just about any space in the home, fluorescent strip lighting is designed to take centre stage as a room's main lighting source.

Fluorescent or batten strip lighting is by no means a stranger to our homes, but traditionally the slightly cold quality of the light produced, not to mention the stark appearance of the lights themselves, has limited its appeal in most people's minds and lent it more to use in office spaces.

However, with energy efficiency and running costs more important than ever these days, fluorescent lighting is being seen as an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional incandescent lights not only in the kitchen or garage but elsewhere in the home too.

Advances in technology has dramatically improved the lifespan and running efficiency of even entry-level fluorescent lighting products, and with adapters enabling you to use the latest T8 or T5 tubes in your existing fluorescent lighting setup, this is one technology with a bright future.

Key advantages

Fluorescent strip lights are typically more expensive than standard incandescent lighting up front, but offer considerable benefits longer term. Let's take a closer look...

Better illumination

Fluorescent strip lights are more efficient than their incandescent counterparts at the basic business of turning electric current into light, but they also deliver a purer light too. By default this might not suit typically 'softer' environments such as the living room or bedroom, but for the home office, kitchen, bathrooms, utility spaces and garage, for example, fluorescent lighting delivers the best and most consistent results.

Lower running costs

The most obvious benefit from fluorescent strip lights is the efficient use of power. Fluorescent lights use less energy in the first place, which means reduced running costs. That's never a bad thing in anyone's book, but with energy costs an increasingly heavy burden for many UK homes, the cost-saving involved in using fluorescent strip lights is a bigger plus point than ever before.

Less heat

So if incandescent lighting isn't as good at turning power into light, what is happening to all that lost energy? The answer is it is being converted into heat, or a large part of it is anyway. Particularly in compact spaces with less than ideal ventilation, traditional incandescent lights can make a marked difference to the ambient temperature, making the environment increasingly uncomfortable and also making it more difficult to keep the temperature constant in surrounding areas.

Longer lifespan

Their greater efficiency and lower running temperature means fluorescent tubes are durable and long-lasting too, with even entry-level T8 tubes typically offering around 9,000 hours of illumination, which at an average of say five hours a day means it'll be as much as five years before you need to replace the tube. Opt for a high efficiency T5 setup and you could be looking at three times that lifespan.

Types of fluorescent tube

Modern fluorescent strip lights all carry a T-rating, invariably T4, T5, T8 or T12. Strictly speaking, this is a measure of the diameter of the fluorescent tube in eighths of an inch – in other words, a T8 light measures eight eighths of an inch, in other words one inch, across, with the T standing for “tubular”.

In practical terms, however, this code is more a reference to the age and energy efficiency of a lighting product. T8 technology is newer and more energy efficient than older T12 products, and T5 is another step forward again.

T5 fluorescent lights are rated to last as long as 20,000 hours, and their very low mercury content make them kinder to the environment than older-generation products. The latest High Efficiency (HE) and High Output (HO) products deliver even higher life expectancy and lighting quality respectively, giving you even more flexibility in choosing the right fluorescent strip light to suit your needs.

Fluorescent strip lights in the home

With such a flexible range of products and technologies to choose from, fluorescent strip lights represent a versatile lighting solution in any number of settings. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Kitchen

The kitchen has always been a popular location for fluorescent strip lights, but even if yours already uses fluorescent lights it's still worth considering an upgrade to a newer, more efficient and more stylish lighting solution. For an added touch of class, meanwhile, ultra-compact T4 fluorescent tubes are perfect for kitchen counter or worktop illumination, requiring as much as eight times less power to run than traditional bulbs. Fluorescent strip lighting image 1

Suggested product

T8 5ft Twin Prismatic Fluorescent Light: this multi-purpose all-rounder is durable and high frequency technology means added efficiency and better colour rendering.

Home office

For the home office you ideally want bright and even lighting throughout, so an overhead fluorescent strip light is the obvious choice from the start. Many home offices have the lights switched on all day, so the improved energy efficiency of the latest T5 fluorescent lights can add up to a serious cost saving over the long term.

Fluorescent strip lighting image 2

Suggested product

T5 5 Foot Twin Cat 2 Louvre Fluorescent Light: this great looking and ultra-efficient T5 light features a low brightness louvre and prismatic panels in an aesthetically pleasing package.

Utility room

The low heat output and even lighting qualities of fluorescent strip lights make them a far better choice than traditional incandescent lights for Fluorescent strip lighting image 3illuminating utility rooms, which are more often than not quite compact and cluttered spaces.

Suggested product

4ft Single T8 Prismatic Fluorescent: durable and energy efficient, complete with UV stabilised, clear styrene diffuser.

Garage/Outhouse

External spaces such as garages and outhouses are often less finished than the rest of the house, and can't rely on ambient light from adjoining rooms Fluorescent strip lighting image 4either, which makes the bright and powerful nature of fluorescent strip lights a sensible choice.

Suggested product

T8 5ft Single Fluorescent Light: no nonsense affordable fluorescent strip lighting that's cheap to run over the long term too.

Need more inspiration? Try our Lighting Ideas section.

Where Next?

  Outdoor fluorescent lights where next   Garage lighting where next   Ceiling lights where next