How to Test Fluorescent Light Bulbs

How to Test Fluorescent Light Bulbs

How to Test Fluorescent Light Bulbs

How to test fluorescent light bulbs


Fluorescent light bulbs, also known as Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, are used for lighting purposes of illuminating houses, shops, restaurants, hotels, auditoriums, movie theaters, etc. Fluorescent bulbs are better than incandescent bulbs or halogen lights because they are advantageous in several ways.

One of the main benefits that they bring is cost-effectiveness. The fluorescent bulbs are a bit pricier than the incandescent bulbs or halogen lights, but they use way less power than the incandescent and halogen lights, which in turn, helps in reducing electricity charges, which are quite higher when one uses incandescent and halogen lights.

Fluorescent lights can be used for various reasons. They can be used as a lighting source to illuminate dim lit or dark space or they can be used for highlighting artistic illustrations or in restaurants along with dimmers to create an ambiance that helps to attract customers.

Fluorescent lights are one of the smart choices when buying lights, as they are cost effective and also are efficient for usage. They are an effective and efficient product in the market which uses lesser power than other lighting sources, thereby saving energy while the other lights just burn all the energy.

Testing Fluorescent Bulbs

Checking the bulb

One of the primary and most common ways to test a fluorescent bulb is by checking for any issues on the surface area of the bulb itself. The fluorescent bulbs, when used for a longer period of time, may wear off. When these bulbs wear off, there will be brown spots that start to appear at the bottom of the bulbs.

When dark spots or brown spots appear only on one side, it is advised to just tilt the bulb the other way to make full use of the bulb before discarding them. The dark or brown spots are the symptoms that alert you when you have to discard the light bulbs.

Checking the pins

Another way to test fluorescent bulbs is by physically checking the pins that are at the bottom of the fluorescent bulbs. These pins are the nodes that connect the fluorescent bulbs to the power source.

If this pin is bent or has any defect in it, the bulb won’t turn on. So, for the bulb to emit light and illuminate a place, the pin or node should be properly adjusted so that they can conduct the power properly throughout the bulb.

Testing on a fixture

One of the most practical methods to test a fluorescent bulb is by testing it on a working light fixture. More often than not, it is the light fixtures that would have a defect and not the light bulbs. So, it is always better to switch from one light fixture to another to test the defectiveness of the light bulb.

If the light bulb has defects, it won’t work even in a working light fixture. On the other hand, if the light fixture is the one with defects, the light bulb will work in another working fixture.

Check the circuits

An effective way to test the effectiveness of a fluorescent light bulb is by checking the electric circuit itself. This involves checking of the switch, the breaker and also the circuit in which the light bulb is connected. It is only common sense to make sure that no wire has been tripped due to any short circuits or any electrical faults.

If there is short circuiting in the electricity channel box, it is advised to turn the switch all the way off and then switching it back on and doing the test of the fluorescent bulb to see if it still emits light.

Using a multimeter

Fluorescent bulbs can also be tested with the help of a device called multi-meter. Multi-meter is used for finding defects in electronic objects. They help in finding the voltage, current and resistance in an electronic circuit or electronic devices. The nodes or pins that are at the end of a fluorescent bulb should be tested with the help of a multi-meter.

If the nodes are defective the multi-meter won’t show any readings. That will be the cue to check the nodes and correct whatever fault it has and then place the bulb in the circuit to check its lighting capacity.

Use of a starter

The older version of fluorescent bulbs will have a cylindrical object called a starter. It is a main component of the bulb, which ignites a gas which in turn helps the bulb to emit light. If this starter has any problem or defect, the light bulb won’t glow; hence, the starter should be changed.

The starters can be bought from stores at a reasonable price. Stores usually have these as spare parts because the starters may not last as long as the light bulb itself.

The most common way through which people usually test a light bulb when it stops emitting light way earlier than its normal lifespan is by wiggling it in the socket. This wiggling of the light bulb in the socket will help in getting rid of any dust accumulation or rust formation.

To remove the dust and rust from the socket, remove the bulb and then clear the socket with the help of paper towels. Rubbing sandpaper on the tip of the nodes of the bulb helps to get rid of the dust and rust from getting accumulated in the lights. After getting rid of the dust and rust, you need to test the bulb by installing it in an electronic circuit.

It is highly advisable to do the dusting and cleaning by switching off the light bulbs. Otherwise, it might end up in an unnecessary disaster and might even cost a lot of money.


Fluorescent bulbs have toxic mercury in them, which makes it harder for people to dispose of them than the normal bulbs. In many places, there are specific ways in which fluorescent bulbs should be disposed of, and anyone who does otherwise will be punished. Proper testing of any electronic device is a must to avoid any easily avoidable accidents.

1 thought on “How to Test Fluorescent Light Bulbs”

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