tubular type.

I have a ceiling with three recessed spotlights, and I just put these bulbs (11W 630 lumens) in because the others it had (2 halogen candle-type and 1 like this, 18W, don't know lumens) were 2700K, and I wanted daylight (6300K), because it's a room where the natural light is almost nonexistent.

However, now I'm feeling a little dazzled and I don't know whether the reason is because these bulbs might not be used without a ceiling covering them fully. More than half of the bulb is protruding from the spotlight.

The store employee told me that the spiral one may cause headaches, if it's not properly covered by the ceiling. He didn't say anything about the tubular one though, that's why I bought them. But now I'm feeling dazzled, and I don't know whether the reason is the above stated or other.

Is using this kind of bulbs without the ceiling covering them bad?

  • Source? This isn't a question that can be answered otherwise. Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 16:17
  • @TheEvilGreebo source of? Power source? 220V
    – Ayoze
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 16:20
  • Are you saying that the bulb protrudes from the light fixture, and is too bright because of it?
    – Tester101
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 16:25
  • What is your source for saying "Using this kind of bulbs without a ceiling covering them is bad?" ? Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 16:31
  • @Tester101 the store employee told me that the spiral one may cause headaches if it's not properly covered by the ceiling. He didn't say anything about the tubular one though, that's why I bought them. But now I'm feeling dazzled and I don't know whether the reason is the above stated or other, that's why I'm asking if you know whether these bulbs can be used directly exposed to the sight or not.
    – Ayoze
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 17:36

4 Answers 4


When you say "ceiling" I take it to mean a fixture lens or diffuser. All fluorescent lamps put out light at a high frequency that can be bothersome to some people. This frequency is determined by the ballast, which will vary by manufacturer and lamp type. The actual shape of the fluorescent tube makes little difference in the frequency unless the ballast is changed as well.

Diffusers and reflectors tend to mask the high speed off/on effect that is bothersome. Directly seeing the bare tube will more likely be bothersome than any other configuration. You've also dramatically changed the light dispersal pattern of the fixture by using CFLs in place of the intended halogens. This could also be why the new configuration is making you uncomfortable. Another factor could be the CFLs are putting out more light than the halogens did, amplifying the effects from other factors.

You might consider LED lamps that come in smaller packaging and may more closely replicate the dispersal pattern achieved by the original halogens. If you want to stick with CFLs, consider using those where the tube is encapsulated by an integral diffuser.

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  • The problem I saw with LED lamps is that the amount of lumens was drastically much less than with CFLs, around 300 compared to the 600 given by CFL. So I guess the room will be too dark if I put LED instead.
    – Ayoze
    Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 8:27

There is nothong wrong with having an exposed fluorescent tube, compact or otherwise. We have lived with the long type and circeline uncovered for decades. Some new CFLs are specifically designed to show off their shape, such as this one

baby plumen

Whether you like the look of any given tube design, find the lighting effects to be pleasant or annoying are all a matter of taste.


I've experienced this with regular (think 12yrs ago) CFL bulbs in an open fixture, without any sort of covering. While your average incandescent bulb seems just about bright enough when you look at it, a CFL putting out the same amount of light will seem much brighter. Added to this, the 6300K level you're using isn't doing any favors... it's just a huge swath of light.

Try using a warmer CFL, or as others have pointed out, LEDs instead.

What you're effectively seeing is the way a garage, shop floor or warehouse is set up - bright lights seeking to emulate natural lighting and only making everything stand out white bright.

And to answer your question, yep, this may be bad because you're feeling some ill-effects from the set up. It may be bad because it doesn't look designed-in. It may be bad because you're hurting from it. It may be bad because you subconsciously think this doesn't belong.


Did this salesman have an old wife who told tales ?

The reason you 'need' a ceiling is because CFL's have a lot of ways to fail, many of them are a slow death, where it 'sort of' or 'sometimes' or 'almost' works. A swift and painless death requires heat, more is better, lots more heat is even better than that.

Anything that can trap heat, including a ceiling, helps speed the total failure of the lamp. Everyone understands 'the bulb is dead.' A bulb that works sometimes is annoying, but might still have some life in it, the things are expensive, so it is not disposed of if there is hope, even if it is flickering so bad it makes you dizzy and sick to your stomach.

If it flickers, or has that high pitched noise, and is making you crazy or 'sick', call it dead and replace it.

---- Following is more information than you want, told poorly ---

A long time ago, in the early days of CFL's making really small fluorescent ballast was not easy. Switching ballasts are borderline black magic. Tiny ones are a nightmare. Finding any electronics that tolerate heat is difficult. And finding value priced parts is a knife edge of cost/life of the lamp.

One of the failure modes of CFL in those days, when the electronics were at bordering on failure, they could not maintain the flow of electricity and would strobe. The lamp would attempt to restart, and the self-destructive cycle continued.

In non-newfangled fluorescents, this was 'flicker', a normal part of the life of the lighting fixture. And yes, strobe lights or lights strobing can make some people nauseous or worse.

CFL are smaller, and the effect is magnified, twisted circular tubes are more difficult to start, so they did it more often, no parts to replace, so because it is 'new' the only reasonable was to blame people getting sick, and warts on toads, on the CFL.

CFL's are also sensitive to the direction (base up, or base down) they are oriented. Base up is more difficult, because of the heat rising up into the ballast. Enclosed fixtures, instead of open table lamp type of application again because of heat issues. Humidity or other moisture could cause endless problems, because the lamps are not completely sealed, again a heat/air flow issue.

They use about 13 watts, while that is a huge savings over a 60 or 100 watt light bulb, it is still not comfortable to hold in your hand. The heat has to go somewhere. There are lots of parts inside and they get most of the abuse. Just send it to the giant light socket in the sky, to live happily ever after.

  • Really, you're still reading this ?

If you are really interested in flourescent lights. The finer points of magnetic vs. electronic ballasts, and whatever else I understand to any degree, ask and I will do my best.

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