Philips Master PL-Electronic
Best retro purpose
Flourescent lamps are the most popular and widely used lighting source. Still widely used in most indoor environments due to their high efficiency and very good colour reproduction, flourescent lamp stocks and availability is still high. Millions of these lamps have been produced worldwide for decades. They are clearly suited for indoor lighting especially when paired with an electronic ballast that eliminates flicker and also increases system efficiency. Due to the great variety of lamps, there are some suggestions for use. Most flourescent lamps operate well at 25 degrees Celsius ambient temperature and have very low light output in freezing or below freezing environments but hot environments also reduce efficiency.
Master PL-Electronic lamps are products that were designed to replace incandescent lighting. Although their designation might suggest that they are better than typical lamps, the only major difference is that they have longer service lifetimes than the classic economy lamps. These lamps can be used as general lighting both indoors and outdoors but you should not expect spectacular results since the lamp is just a typical compact flourescent product. The compact light source is suitable for some luminaires but expect the higher power lamps to be way longer than typical fixtures. The light output quality is pleasant but there is nothing special about it except the lamp's appearance, when compared to LED lamps. Unfortunately, as with all compact fluorescent lamps, the coating is not at the same quality standard as the classic, linear fluorescent lamps, so there is some difference between this lamp type and compact fluorescent lamps as the Master PL-Electronic in terms of colour appearance and rendering. As is usual with these lamps, frequent starting stresses the lamp but much less than for economy lamps due to the electrode preheat capability.
Understanding manufacturer data
Lamp light output is always measured in lumens. This is a way of measuring by averaging light output at a distance of 1 meter in an integrating sphere. This was carried out in lab environments and this information was mentioned in lamp datasheets and catalogues. While this information is accurate it should be considered only across similar lamp types.
Lamp life is presented in thousands of hours. It does not point at a specific moment when an installed lamp will not operate anymore but a statistical point at which some of the lamps may not operate, giving a rough estimate of useful life.
Ra8 colour rendering index, or simply colour rendering index is a way of expressing the typical colour rendering capability of a lamp. While it may be non-intuitive this is a computed average of brightness of certain coloured samples that are light by the lamp. The brighter they are, the more efficient is the lamp in this task. Most lamps do not have a continuous colour spectra so only some specific colours might look very bright and others look very dull. Colour samples are not intense reds, greens and blues but intermediately vivid colours that are focused on human skin colours and some fabrics or surfaces, meaning that a only very high colour rendering indexes are desirable for indoor home lighting. Sun light renders colours almost perfectly, having a value of 100 while typical lamps have a rendering index between 50 and 80, a good value being above 80 and a poor one below 50.
Colour temperature is another important detail. The value is presented in Kelvins and follows a theory that boils down to the fact that light can be produced by heating a metal up to a specific temperature. A camp fire releases light as the flame reaches around 1500-2000 degrees Celsius and a slightly higher value expressed in Kelvin. The designation is warm white for a value of around 2700 Kelvin, natural white with a value of around 3200-3500 Kelvin, cool white for a value of around 4000-4500 Kelvin, daylight for a value between 5000 and 5500 Kelvin, and cool daylight for a value above 6000-6500 Kelvin. There are cultural preferences that make some warm colour temperatures preferred in colder climates and cool colour temperatures in warmer climates. The most popular home lighting worldwide is mostly warm white, due to a comfortable, pleasant atmosphere that is close to the old incandescent lamp.
|Designation||Base||Lamp wattage||Luminous flux||Colour appearance||Colour Temperature||Colour Rendering Index (Ra8)||Life (to 50% failures)|
|Master PL-Electronic 5W/827||E14/E27||5 W||230 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 8W/827||E14/E27||8 W||400 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 8W/865||E27||8 W||380 lm||Cool Daylight||6500 K||76||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 11W/827||E14/E27||11 W||600 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 11W/865||E27||11 W||575 lm||Cool Daylight||6500 K||76||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 15W/827||E14/E27||15 W||875 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 15W/865||E27||15 W||825 lm||Cool Daylight||6500 K||76||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 20W/827||E14/E27||20 W||1200 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 20W/840||E27||20 W||1175 lm||Cool White||4000 K||80||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 20W/865||E27||20 W||1175 lm||Cool Daylight||6500 K||76||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 23W/827||E27||23 W||1500 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 23W/840||E27||23 W||1400 lm||Cool White||4000 K||80||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 23W/865||E27||23 W||1400 lm||Cool Daylight||6500 K||76||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 27W/827||E27||27 W||1800 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 27W/865||E27||27 W||1700 lm||Cool Daylight||6500 K||76||12000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 33W/827||E27||33 W||1800 lm||Incandescent White||2700 K||82||15000 hours|
|Master PL-Electronic 33W/865||E27||33 W||1700 lm||Cool Daylight||6500 K||76||12000 hours|
- Neutral white colour appearance lamps were seldomly used as the 2700 and 6500 K lamps offered satisfactory variety;
Durability and Repair-ability
Due to their construction, these lamps are not serviceable in the true sense. Despite the lamp's pro designation, the lamp itself cannot be plugged in and out of the base, to allow simple replacements. While some board repairs can be done if the ballast experiences failure, the most likely cause is the lamp itself burning out, meaning that fillaments are so damaged that the lamp behaves erratically or does not work at all. While fillaments can be joined to allow forced lamp starting, this solution poses risk of catastrophic failure of the internal ballast so it is not recommended.
Generally, MASTER PL-Electronic lamps are much more worn out by the time they cease to function so there is very little useful life left for it. The lamp's ballast is quite difficult to access, involving potential partial destruction of the lamp's plastic housing. Overall, these lamps were at least twice if not more, long lived than typical economy compact fluorescent lamps such as the Philips Genie lamp range. However, operation in enclosed fixtures was still the biggest premature failure cause due to the high stress posed by high temperature operation, mainly in the case of the internal ballast components.
Greatest features & flaws
|Low glare risk, uniform lighting||Quite large for some fixtures|
|Good colour rendering, High efficiency reasonably long service life||Not the same light quality as on linear fluorescent lamps|
|Mostly suited for accent lighting||Poor lamp service life in enclosed fixtures|
|Quick lamp start and restart||Fragile construction, somewhat expensive|
The Master PL-Electronic range was marketed as an improvement of the economy compact flourescent lamp range, offering longer service lifetime. Unfortunately, these lamps were not professional in the true sense of the word, as the lamp and ballast could not be easily replaced when needed and there was no major improvement in light appearance or colour rendering compared with cheaper lamps. Another minor advantage was better performance due to less impact of frequent switching on light output and lamp life. However, light uniformity is reduced downwards due to the lamp's shape.
Theoretically, these lamps could operate better in hotter and colder environments due to better lamp design but this was not as important in most use case scenarios. Master PL-Electronic lamps mostly replaced incandescent lamps with the goal of major energy savings in hospitality and restaurant applications were cost and simplicity were valued more. On these grounds, the lamp fared well but there was nothing special about it. Ultimately, despite the higher marketing price, it was and still is a cheap lamp that has no redeeming quality and can be easily replaced with a modern LED lamp. It is slightly more fashionable than the low cost Genie E-Saver lamp, in case design is really taken into account.
Since the lamp has integral ballast, it does not require any preparation. It can be directly plugged on a mains powered socket and it will work immediately. The lamp has a short delay before starting, in order to heat the electrodes to ensure a proper start and reduced wear. The lamp's output increases over a period of around 1 or 2 minutes as the lamp reaches operating temperature. This is much more pronounced than in other lamps that are less compact and especially compared to linear flourescent lamps. As the lamp ages, this run-up to full light output lengthens significantly. As the lamp ages and the internal coating degrades, there is some reduction in light output and colour rendering.
Partially closed as well as open fixtures are very well suited for any lamp type while enclosed fixtures are unadvisable due to the risk of damage due to increased temperatures. In general, open fixtures are better suited for lamps operating in warmer indoor environments while enclosed fixtures are better suited for colder environments. Despite what any datasheet may suggest, deviating higher or lower than the set 30-35 degrees Celsius lamp temperature slightly reduces efficiency.
Compact fluorescent lamps with integrated ballasts were designed as a more energy efficient product that replaced incandescent lamps. Although there was another competing technology in late 70s that could have prospects as energy saving lamps, the small metal hallide lamps, the flourescent lamp won in the end. Flicker, colour variations, slow start and especially long delays on the restart made low power metal hallide lamps as entirely unsuitable. Also, there was the issue of cost and tighter manufacturing tolerances that made metal hallide lamps very expensive compared with incandescent lamps. The research on compact fluorescent lamps was centered on miniaturization of the lamp and integrated ballast while keeping a reasonably moderate efficiency. Tubes could be made slimmer if the flourescent coating could operate at higher temperature and avoid absorbing mercury so development was not entirely straightforward. Development of more powerful green an blue phosphorus than the standard halo phosphates was essential, while a good red phosphorus of Yttrium/Vanadium was already available from research on cathode ray tube high efficiency red emitting powders. In the end, cost was extremely important.
While this lamp generally follows the typical progress of flourescent light sources, there is one major feature that was specific to this range. In late 1980s, a compact flourescent lamp was designed, the venerable SL. It was the first product to use a magnetic ballast and starter that were integrated into a rather bulky base. The lamp had a noticeable hum and flicker but it brought major advantages in terms of energy efficiency in replacing typical incandescent lamps. In the 1990s, compact lamps received an improved electronic ballast that improved lamp's efficiency and lifetime, with no visible flicker. This development lead to later mass market popularity of compact fluorescent lamps, as they were more compact and slightly more pleasant to use. Of course, there was also a downside. Philips noticed that lamp replacements at the end of their useful life was not popular due to the typical user mindset so Philips did not bother to create, from that point further, lamps that had separate bases and lamps, reducing user mistakes upon replacement.
As all compact fluorescent lamps were ultimately an economy prospect to replace consumer's incandescent lamps, price was always an important factor. Improvements in the PL-Electronic lamps centered on better designed electronic ballasts that could have higher rated components, able to better survive increased environment temperatures of enclosed fixtures, and improved lamp tube design that reduced impact of temperature variations. The compact fluorescent lamp market was increasing up until the early 2000s, when most incandescent fixtures were replaced, and it slowly declined with the transition towards led lighting. The worldwide incandescent bulb ban had a major impact in increasing sales but in a slightly different way: users simply purchased lower quality bulbs or cheaper integrated compact flourescent lamps, meaning that there was no improvement on the standard Genie lamps or PL-Electronic.
Philips flourescent lamps had very good manufacturing tolerances and the lamp's construction along with flourescent powder quality made reliable, predictable operation entirely ensured. However, the lamp's build was significantly worse when production switched to China in late 2000s as lamps' service lifetime was significantly reduced even if catastrophic failure were never as common as on cheap unbranded Chinese products. This can be attributed to a lack of interest in maintaining a specific product design when most of the market was interested in cheaper products and competition centered on even more volume. Of course, this had a major drawback as there are still, as of today, massive amounts of unsold stock.
Philips lamps were capable of similar performance to other world manufacturers. However, some slight differences were noticeable. For instance, Philips had slightly less powerful red phosporus than Osram, which means that entirely equivalent lamps from both manufacturers had slightly different colour appearance. On the other side, Chinese branded lamps were much inferior in terms of flourescent powder quality and colour reproduction as well as efficiency and service life.