Hi, this is Ahmad. I have worked in customer service and periodically on the sales floor at That Fish Place for more than 10 years. I have received countless questions from customers over the years, but questions on lighting lamp bases and Compact Fluorescent pin configuration are very frequent. Some while ago, Dave provided insights on the meaning of Kelvin ratings, which is also a source of confusion for lighting customers. This blog aims to answer some questions with concern to pin arrangement on Compact Fluorescent Lamps.
CFLs are popular for use on freshwater, saltwater, and reef aquaria, and even for use in our homes (those energy efficient, coil-shaped bulbs). Compact Fluorescent technology provides a cooler running, more efficient, more natural light that will last much longer than traditional incandescents and fluorescents. Most of you who run CFLs on an aquarium have externally, electronically ballasted compact fluorescent lamps. Electronic ballasting allows more precise starting and stopping and an efficiency increase of up to 10%. Most of the Compact Fluorescents that we sell consist of two parallel fluorescent tubes, though they may contain up to four tubes. They are joined by a plastic connector on one end. The connector has metal pins which plug into your lighting fixture. A common misconception is that each tube on the CFL is a separate lamp. Unlike the way traditional fluorescent lamps are designed (a single tube with connector pins on each end), the parallel tubes of the CFL form a single lamp with a single connector.
Compact fluorescent lamps for aquarium applications usually have either European (straight pin arrangement) or Japanese (square pin arrangement) style connectors. How to tell what you have is really simple. European style lamps have four pins in a straight line. Japanese style lamps have the four pins in a square or box-shaped pattern. Other, less common varieties include PL, PL-S 2P and PL-S 4P. Thes are all straight-pin type lamps – “4P” stands for 4 pin, and 2P stands for 2 pin. So long as the lamp you are selecting is of equal or lesser wattage, the pin arrangement is the same and the length is about the same (keeping in mind that some manufacturers include the pin in their measurements and some manufacturers round their length measurements), the lamp should work.
Hopefully this blog addresses some common and easily answered lighting questions. If not, feel free to ask away!