Integral compact fluorescent lamp

Thomas Edison began selling his incandescent lamp in 1880 and only a few years later introduced a version with a silver coating on the back that served as a reflector. Almost exactly 100 years later (1981) Philips began selling their SL-18 compact fluorescent lamp and within a few years introduced a version with a built-in reflector—the lamp seen here.
Reflector lamps have been most often sold as either spot lights that throw a narrow beam of light, or as flood lights that throw a broader beam. Engineers alter the shape of the reflector to create different beam patterns. In an incandescent lamp they typically place the filament at a focal point so as to get as much light as possible to travel along the path they've designed. Making a compact fluorescent reflector lamp was something of a challenge since the folded-tube that radiates the light is long and is not considered "a point-source" of light. The ridges seen on the outside of the silver reflector also appear inside and help direct the light from the tube out of the lamp.
Lamp characteristics: Brass, medium-screw base with plastic skirt that houses a magnetic ballast, and a starter. Fluorescent tube includes two electrodes, mercury, and a phosphor coating. An R-shaped plastic envelope serves as a reflector and is enclosed with a plastic cover. Rating: 18 watts, 120 volts.
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: 7 1/2 in x 5 in; 19.05 cm x 12.7 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
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.