>> I am changing out all my lighting to CFL now to better conserve
>> electricity of my wind/solar home generation. Now, I am going
>> to use CFL because the cost per bulb of the LED is just prohibitive
>> so I will be going with flourescent and CFL throughout my property.
>> I will be upgrading to LED when the cost per bulb gets lower, or as
>> budget permits me to change over.
>> So, I have a couple of areas that currently have flourescent tube
>> lighting and not sure what to do there. Should I just leave those
>> alone, or is the CFL more efficient there? What about mercury?
Well, what I would do depends on whether or not you want to change your fixtures right now. Flourescent tube lighting and CFL bulbs use about the same amount of power. Your tube lights spread the light over a larger area and distribute light a little better. One thing about the tube lights is that the ballast is with the fixture, thus does not get changed out with the bulb, is permanent. The CFL bulb has the ballast built in and thus you renew that with each bulb change and avoid the possibility of a aging ballast that may not be operating efficiently.
Either one is a major improvement over incandescent lights. The best fixtures for LED will be screw in type bulb fixtures. So, when you move to LED that fixture change and a CFL bulb may be a mid step that you can do now or later. But the move to LED will ultimately lead to killing off the flourescent tube fixtures. I am currently taking out rows of flourescent tubes and putting in regular screw in light bulb fixtures. I am going to put in as many LED as I can and the rest with CFL, changing them to LED as soon as I can. As you move to LED, choose the lights used most, do them first thus saving electricity on highest use lights.. first.
A standard fluorescent tube will contain 5 times more mercury than a compact fluorescent bulb. Both reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment. By conserving energy with flourescents, the amount of electricity needing to be generated by mercury releasing coal power plants is reduced.
I do believe that in terms of a lumen's to wattage ratio, the two types of fluorescent bulb are fairly similar. But the little ones can be used much more easily in home applications and are cheaper to buy in both bulb and fixture. Thus for NEW CONSTRUCTION the flourescent tube fixtures should never be used, CFL is the standard and LED the new technology, buth using screw in type fixtures.