Compact fluorescent lamps are one of the areas which have made very significant progress in the last twenty or so years.  Fluorescent lighting has been around for many, many years - having made their first appearance at the World's Fair in New York in 1938 - but they've always been too big and often ugly for use around the general home.  Aside from in garages, some larger kitchens, and occasionally for applications like lighting under shelves and things where the fixtures could be concealed.  Philips however attacked this problem head on, with the launch of the SL*18 lamp in 1984.  This was a phenomenal breakthrough, being the worlds first commercially available fluorescent lamp which you could buy and fit into any normal lampholder.  It was not without its drawbacks however; it was heavy (Over 500 grams), far larger than conventional bulbs, and had an unacceptably long five minute run up time.  Things however have come a long, long way since that first lamp.  Though it still deserves a very, very big salute from all lighting enthusiasts, as it was the first lamp of its kind.

Despite their somewhat odd and rather futuristic appearance, the technology behind a compact fluorescent lamp isn't anything particularly new - albeit somewhat shrunken compared to what it's based on.  Essentially it's just a fluorescent tube of a relatively narrow diameter, twisted into such a shape that the largest amount of tube can be fitted into the smallest area.  Usually the tube is attached to a ballast module at the base, and equipped with a normal BC or ES cap, so that it can be fitted straight into a normal lamp socket.  This in itself is not an entirely new idea.  In the late 1950s, Mazda offered a clever device under the "Netaline" name, which was essentially a normal linear fluorescent fixture, which had a normal lamp cap, so it just plugged straight into your normal light fitting.  As far as I can tell, it never really took off, I guess a factor in that would be that a fluorescent fixture of that vintage with a metal case, magnetic ballast and a five foot tube is going to be a rather weighty combination - weighty enough that it could cause conventional lampholders problems.  Especially bearing in mind that a BC fitting only has two little lugs holding the lamp in.  The idea obviously has not died entirely however, as I spotted a modern version of this very thing in a DIY store in April 2005.  I would have bought it for this site, but finances did not allow for that unfortunately.  I don't think my parents who were there with me could quite understand why I was looking so excited when I found it though...While it was a good 30 years ahead of its time - this was essentially what was reborn in the 1980s in greatly shrunken form as the compact fluorescent lamp.

In some cases, the tube and ballast unit may be designed to be separated, usually so that the tube can be replaced independently of the ballast.  This design appears to have started to become more rare, mainly due to the fact that cheap electronic ballasts have become the norm, and that tube life has been stretched so much further - the Philips SL*18 had a rated life of 5000 hours for example, whereas the Osram Dulux EL lamps I've been using a lot lately state 15'000 hours on the box - often with the tube these days outlasting the ballast.  The separate ballast/tube assemblies do still exist though, but they're less common as a retrofit now, mainly intended for new installations.  Philips PL*S and Sylvania's Lynx series are probably the best known of these modern "non retrofit" compact fluorescent lamps.

Philips SL*9 Prismatic

Megaman Compact 2000 11W Warm White

Osram Dulux EL 15W Reflector "Lumilux Interna"
Megaman Clusterlite 1060i 60W Warm White
Prolite Daylite Helix 11W Blue Coloured Lamp
Luxina Helix SCR-11W Red Coloured Lamp
Panasonic EFG15E50R

Osram Dulux S 9W/67 Blue
Osram Dulux S 9W/60 Red
Sylvania Mini-Lynx Pastel 11W Apricot
Sylvania Mini-Lynx Pastel 15W Rose
Philips SL*18 First Generation Integral Compact Fluorescent Lamp
Megaman DorS 11W Dimmable Energy-Saving Lamp
General Electric Energy Saving Elegance FLE20HLX/T3/827/B22-6Y-GE
Impact Color Spiral 15W Green
Impact Color Spiral 15W Red
Impact Color Spiral 15W Blue
Impact Color Spiral 15W Yellow
Marathon Electronic 11W/827
General Electric Elegance 11W
Tesco Value FLE11TBX/XM/GLS/827/B22/TESCO/1
Connect-IT ES15730 30W Low Energy Lamp
PowerPlus Enterprises 9W Energy Saving Bulb
Philips PL E*T Pro 23W
SaverLamp "Super Spiral" 85W 2700K
Philips PL-C 10W 827/2P
Philips 2 in 1 LED/CF Nightlight
Deren 2U 20W 6400K
Self Dimming Compact Fluorescent lamp Osram Dulux EL 23W Vario
General Electric BIAX Electronic FLE15TBX/XM/840
Pro-Lite SCR 18W Coloured Lamp
Morrisons R80 Style 11W Reflector
Omicron SYE-11 Compact Fluorescent "Blacklight" 15W
Osram Dulux EL 5W
Osram Dulux EL 20W
Mercury 15W 2700K