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GE: Hybrid light bulb solves CFL issues

Halogen hybrid light bulb offers CFL efficiency without the wait for full brightness. And it contains less mercury.

GE's new hybrid halogen-compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs don't take time to warm up and contain less mercury.

General Electric today unveiled a halogen compact fluorescent light bulb that promises the efficiency of a CFL without the annoying warm-up period.

Unlike typical compact fluorescents (CFLs), the new GE Reveal and GE Energy Smart Soft White hybrid light bulbs will not take time to heat up in order to reach full luminescence.

The hybrid bulb's halogen tube turns on instantly, then shuts off once the CFL tubes have warmed to their ultimate brightness. GE

The bulb is actually two bulbs in one. A halogen light nestled within the bulb turns on almost instantly (half a second), then shuts off once the CFL has reached its full brightness, according to GE.

GE says its new hybrid bulb only contains 1 milligram of mercury. Although some companies like Sylvania managed to make small CFLs containing only 1.5 milligrams of mercury, the Enivironmental Protection Agency states that the average CFL contains 4 milligrams of mercury.

Mercury is widely known to be a health risk if inhaled or ingested, especially in small children, and has always been one of the downsides to CFLs. The use of mercury in CFLs has been the concern of several consumer-advocacy groups, and the EPA has guidelines on how to handle broken CFLs, which can release a small amount of mercury if its tubes are broken. Some manufacturers have even made a CFL light bulb that can contain its mercury even in the event of a tube breakage.

Pricing has not yet been announced. GE did say that 15-watt (60-watt incandescent equivalent) and 20-watt (75-watt equivalent) versions of the hybrid halogen-CFL bulbs will be available as of 2011, with other sizes to become available later.

At 8,000 hours of use, the hybrid light bulb has the same lifespan as GE's Soft White 14-watt CFL. The average incandescent bulb has a 1,000-hour lifespan.