Integral compact fluorescent lamp

Introducing a new product involves more than just crafting an advertising campaign aimed at consumers. A company must also convince potential distributors (both wholesale and retail) to stock the product. That task is made easier if one can visually show the differences between the old product and the new.
This lamp is a Philips "SL Electronic" demonstration piece made about 1985. Philips' original "SL" compact fluorescent lamp came equipped with a magnetic, coil-core ballast when introduced in 1981. The newer version replaced that magnetic ballast with an electronic ballast, raising energy efficiency in the lamp. This demonstration lamp has a clear base-skirt allowing whoever demonstrates the lamp to show the electronic circuitry.
All fluorescent lamps require a ballast due to a quirk engineers call negative-resistance characteristic. The electrical resistance inside a fluorescent lamp is very high when the lamp is off—that's why fluorescent lamps need starters. But once the current is flowing through the lamp the resistance drops, causing the lamp to draw more current, which drops the resistance further, causing still more current to be drawn. Without a control device in the circuit, this cycle would quickly destroy the lamp. A ballast, whether magnetic or elecronic, regulates the amount of current flowing through the lamp and prevents the cycle from occurring.
Lamp characteristics: Brass, medium-screw base with clear plastic skirt that houses an electronic ballast and a starter. Fluorescent tube includes two electrodes, mercury, and a phosphor coating. A corrugated plastic cover protects the tube. Eight slots in the cover allow excess heat to escape. Rating: 18 watts.
Object Name
fluorescent lamp
discharge lamp
Date made
ca 1985
date made
ca. 1985
Philips Lighting Company
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
glass (overall material)
mercury (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 5 3/4 in x 3 in; 14.605 cm x 7.62 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Energy & Power
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Philips Lighting Co.
Publication title
Lighting A Revolution
Publication URL

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