So, how does fluorescent lighting work?

A fluorescent tube consists of a gas-filled glass tube with an electrode at each end. It gives off light when a current runs through it from one electrode to the other and excites mercury atoms in the vapour in the tube. Electrons are able to leave the electrodes when they are heated to high temperatures and an electric field pushes them through the tube. However, the light that the mercury atoms emit is actually ultraviolet and can't be seen. To convert this ultraviolet light to visible light, the inside surface of the glass tube is coated with a fluorescent powder. When this fluorescent powder is exposed to ultraviolet light, it absorbs the light energy and reemits some of it as visible light, a process called "fluorescence." The missing light energy is converted to thermal energy, making the tube slightly hot.

The other significant component of the fluorescent lamp is its ballast (you may know it as the starter). This is needed to control power through the tube. Gas discharges, such as the one that occurs inside the lamp, are notoriously unstable. By unstable it's meant that they are hard to start and once they do start they tend to become too intense. To regulate the discharge, the ballast controls the amount of current flowing through the tube. There are different types of starters, ranging from very inefficient (magnetic), through somewhat (electro-magnetic) to very efficient (electronic). The drawback to most starters are that they are a separate component and vary in both efficiency and life expectancy from manufacturer to manufacturer.

What makes the ESL Fluorescent lighting solutions better?

It all comes down to the color of the light that the tubes put out. Normal fluorescent lights -halophosphor - use only one type of phosphor in the coating (the fluorescent powder described above) and this usually gives off only a specific portion of the colour spectrum. Generally giving off a dim, yellowish appearing light that isn't terribly conducive to reading and colours don't register as well under this light in comparison to sunlight. As well, depending on the ballast that is used to excite these fluoros, it can be a buzzy, flickery distraction!

The ESL Next G Fluoro solutions utilise, what are termed as, Rare-earth tri-phosphors. Each of the three (as in tri-) phosphors have a different colour wavelength for the spectrum colours - red, green and blue - and they give off more of a realistic, full-spectrum light. Coupled with a high colour temperature (6400 degrees Kelvin) and a colour rendering index (CRI of 83) this produces a clean, crisp light which represents colours more truly and reduces strain on the eyes for specific tasks.

Grouping this with the efficiencies of the electronic ballast (integrated in the High Bay models and a core component of the T8-T5 Retrofit modules), with Next G Fluoro and Next G High Bay lighting you can get the best colour and light output from the lamp and very high energy efficiency to reduce not only the cost of running your lighting solutions, but impact on the environment.

ESL Next G lights utilise the eye's response to different lighting sources to best effect. Using research that has been undertaken over the last 15 to 20 years the Next G fluorescent light give a Visually Enhanced Light or Spectrally Enhanced Light (previously known as Scotopically Enhanced Light) with an S/P ratio - scotopic to photopic ratio - of 2.1. Please see article - What is Visually Efficient Lighting?

For more interesting reading on how this type of light affects your sight, and why ESL is ahead of the game, check out these documents:

 The Coming Revolution in Lighting Practice

 Why is Blue Tinted Backlight Better?