What is the expectation for unused fluorescent bulbs that are 1 year, 5 year and 10 years old? In general, do fluorescent bulbs appreciably degrade over the first 10 years?

I am referring to tubes and NOT CFLs.

  • Since it might make a difference, are you referring to tubes (which have no active components) or to CFLs which have some electronics (equivalent of starter + ballast)? – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Dec 14 '18 at 15:31
  • Shelf life or in use lifetime expectation? – Alaska Man Dec 14 '18 at 22:12
  • Shelf life. Though it is conceivable that the longer it sits on the shelf the useful life would be reduced – gatorback Dec 14 '18 at 23:22

I think there could be a chance of a less expensive lamp that was not well sealed leaking over many years I have found this true on incandescent lamps I bought cases of prior to the out law of standard 100w bulbs but have not seen the problem with linear flouresent tubes or CFL's . I just installed a CFL lamp last week that is at least 5 or 6 years old on my back porch it was fine, I have a few old 4' t8 tubes left in a case that is even older, however after these are gone or I have ballast fail I am converting to LED's because of more perceived light at 1/2 the power consumption. But as far as shelf life it may all come down to the quality of the tube.


I have not seen any trouble with old tubes, and we have some that are genuine museum pieces in the 30yo range.

Tubes I tested and sorted into the "good bin/trash bin" 5 years ago, good bin still is reliable.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.