Introduction: How to Reuse a Dead Compact Fluorescent Lamp and Get Free Electronics

Picture of How to Reuse a Dead Compact Fluorescent Lamp and Get Free Electronics

how to get free electronics out this dead  "Compact fluorescent lamp" there is so many electronics in there 
there is transistors , resistors , audio transformer , capacitors , diodes ... etc.
    the target of this cool project is recycling dead  "Compact fluorescent lamp" to get a free electronics to use it in other projects
to make some thing cool out of  "Compact fluorescent lamp" .

A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), also called compact fluorescent light, energy-saving light, and compact fluorescent tube, is a fluorescent lamp designed to replace an incandescent lamp; some types fit into light fixtures formerly used for incandescent lamps. The lamps use a tube which is curved or folded to fit into the space of an incandescent bulb, and a compact electronic ballast in the base of the lamp.
Compared to general-service incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power, and last eight to fifteen times longer. A CFL has a higher purchase price than an incandescent lamp, but can save over five times its purchase price in electricity costs over the lamp's lifetime.
Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain mercury, which complicates their disposal. In many countries, governments have established recycling schemes for CFLs and glass generally.
CFLs radiate a spectral power distribution that is different from that of incandescent lamps. Improved phosphor formulations have improved the perceived colour of the light emitted by CFLs, such that some sources rate the best "soft white" CFLs as subjectively similar in colour to standard incandescent lamps.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

a dead compact fluorescent lamp
a screw driver 
a solder iron

Step 2: Open the Dead Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Picture of Open the Dead Compact Fluorescent Lamp

   Try to Open The Dead Compact Fluorescent Lamp with the screw driver and move the glass tube and throw it we don't need it any more and remove this plastic part or break it and you will see the PCB and your FREE ELECTRONICS.

Step 3: Take the PCB Out and Desolder It

Picture of Take the PCB Out and Desolder It

cut the wires to remove the PCB and look for the electronics that you need and desolder it with the solder iron and take it out  and you are Done!


jhornor (author)2013-04-01

My mother doesn't want me to do this because she is worried about the mercury in the lightbulbs. How safe is this to do and is there a any risk of mercury exposure?

SuperTech-IT (author)jhornor2013-12-13

If you break the bulb, hold your breath for 5 seconds for the gas to dissipate.
Avoid licking, chewing or swallowing the glass. Sweep it up and throw it away instead.
You should be fine if you take these simple precautions.

I'm thinking your mom would call in a biohazard team and tent your house for a month if someone broke an old thermometer!

Before everyone went all nutterbutters about Mercury, I used to play with liquid Mercury as a child. Maybe that's why I am the only one around that knows the difference between "they're, their and there" and "you're and your" etc.
Things I learned got stuck in the mercury in my brain rather than getting washed away!

I remember having mercury in class room, about 7 or 8 years old. Somebody brought it in for show and tell, we all got to handle it, I thought it was very heavy for something so small. Of course somebody dropped some, it went into a bunch of smaller droplets but came back together into a bigger drop when pushed together. We all had a great time chasing drops around the floor, I doubt very much that we got it all back. Oh, and yes the teacher was there, mind you this was about 50 years ago... we also played with pellet guns, slingshots, walked to and from school, played on the monkey bars, fell off onto the concrete, and got back on, rode our bike without a helmut, and generally had fun, and survived!

lawn darts,clackers,chemistry sets, wood burning kits, riding in the back of a pickup truck, riding bicycle miles and miles away - through the woods - over ramps, alone, go-carts down paved hills, skateboarding down paved hills/roads, playing in the park alone, ponds, skating on ponds/the bay, model rockets with solid rocket propellent/engines, ....and those of us that were a bit more advanced - playing with explosives and a lot of other things too numerous to mention... We did a ton of crap, and we all survived. The Dr. Spock age has ruined childhood for a lot of kids.

PerryB11 (author)SuperTech-IT2017-11-18

Oh man...i just read your comment and it brought back great memories. We did the same stuff you mentioned and as you say alot more too numerous to mention, including BB/Pellet gun fights (no goggles), getting dropped off at the public MDC pool in Brighton MA by dad in the early morning as 10 & 12 year old kids (my brother and i) and getting picked up outside the pool after he got out of work at night (this was our "summer camp")

ggadget (author)SuperTech-IT2016-08-29

I know, right. I remember riding my bicycle down a huge stairway and continuing on the concrete road below for the next grew get until I get to the home made ramp that I used to jump my bike on.....all without a helmet. I survived and did decent in life so far.

tjames21 (author)SuperTech-IT2017-07-06

Joker lol

CodyTaber (author)SuperTech-IT2015-12-22

I know your orginal comment was two years ago but I just read it. I too use to play with Mercury and now have an affinity for proper grammar. Strange how that works.

kedwa30 (author)jhornor2015-03-03

P.S. you can do this without breaking the tube and if so then there is no risk of exposure to mercury. The only risk is if you break the bulb.

kedwa30 (author)jhornor2015-03-03

The greatest threat comes from the inhalation of the gas which is released at the time the tube breaks. Since when soldering you should work with a vent anyway, this risk is mitigated by the same vent you would use to eliminate gases from solder. Even better, do the work outside and let the wind blow it away.

Fluoride is more immediately toxic to neurons than many heavy metals and yet some people still put fluoride into drinking water. It doesn't make sense to me to be so cautious about one toxin but then so cavalier about another. I avoid the extremes. I avoid fluoride where I can by drinking only distilled water; and, I avoid exposure to gases from my work by using a vent fan in my work area that blows the air outside. You would probably never notice the effects of exposure to what is in a single bulb, but if you are going to do this a lot then taking precautions grows in importance. (On the other hand, no one would notice their own intelligence decreasing because of the Dunning/Kruger effect. They might actually think they got smarter.)

Mercury is also used as a preservative in vaccines. The medical establishment's consensus is that the small amount of harm caused from the mercury is worth the benefits of the vaccine. Of course each person getting a vaccine should be informed of all the consequences and risks and allowed to decide for themselves whether it is worth it. When exposure is going to be repeated, the damage is cumulative and it is also more consequential to younger people who are still growing.

If the bulb is already broken then wear gloves to protect against cuts. Of course children should obey their parents, but I think anyone can persuade their mom to let them do this by showing that by using safety equipment like gloves, goggles, and a ventilation fan or the open outdoors, there is nothing left to fear.

"How much mercury is in fluorescent bulbs? The following information on mercury content and mercury use is taken from a fact sheet on mercury use in lighting from the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA) . This data was provided to NEWMOA by lamp manufacturers."

"Individual Fluorescent Bulbs‐

"About 60 percent of all fluorescent lamps sold in the U.S. in 2004 contained 10 mg of mercury or less. The remaining 40 percent contained more than 10 mg and up to 100 mg of mercury. Four‐foot linear fluorescent lamps contained an average of 13.3 mg, with a high of 70 mg and a low of 2.5 mg. Compact fluorescents (CFLs) had the least amount of mercury per lamp in 2004; two ‐ thirds of CFLs contained 5 mg of mercury or less, while 96 percent contained 10 mg or less"

The above information tells you that there is more mercury in a linear bulb than in a CFL bulb, but people only seem concerned about the CFL bulbs. This is because of a social experiment that hyped only the dangers of CFL bulbs.

"Mercury is used in many industries, especially the electrical industry,
and in many instruments such as thermometers and barometers. It has been
used clinically, but because of its toxicity this use is diminishing.
Most people are exposed to mercury through diet and dental fillings.
Mercury is odorless.

"Elemental mercury is toxic primarily through inhalation of mercury
vapors. It is only slowly absorbed through the skin, although it may
cause skin and eye irritation. Elemental mercury droplets may be
absorbed through eye contact. Ingestion is not an important route of
acute exposure as almost no elemental mercury is absorbed through the
gastrointestinal tract."

Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. It will disperse the mercury into the air and increase exposure to it.

So the bottom line: you should respect mercury and take some simple precautions when working around it.

SirCheez (author)jhornor2013-07-06

My mom also said this. Just don't break the bulb. Actually, you get more mercury exposure by eating a tuna sandwich than by breaking the bulb.

One article recommends that if you break the bulb, just ventilate the room and leave for 5-10 minutes. Should be fine.

SuperTech-IT (author)SirCheez2013-12-13

This could be why most asian children do so much better in school - they eat about 1000 times more fish than we do. I think they started the mercury scare so that they could hog it all for themselves!

hackzilla (author)jhornor2013-04-13

as long as the glass doesn't break you should be ok.

If you glass breaks, don't breath in.

Mahmoud Alaa (author)jhornor2013-04-10

i don't think so , but it is safely to do , just open the plastic box and cut the wires ,Done! :D

Reactive Light (author)2016-01-19

OR, replace the one dead component (very likely the largest electrolytic capacitor, but see this:, and keep using the lamp. I used to regularly repair CFLs, before I switched to LED lamps.

andre2015 (author)2015-11-05

Reuse a Dead Compact fluorescent tube

mxx (author)2015-05-30

Thanks for this very informative instructable! It was exactly what I was looking for. Never again will I dispose of a CFL without recycling its electronics.

Mahmoud Alaa (author)mxx2015-06-02

i am proud to help :D

SreeH (author)2015-05-16

turbiny (author)2014-08-13

have you tested those boards, can it be used as a led/led strip driver?
what voltage does it put out?

MartinL10 (author)turbiny2015-04-04

It can not be used for LED strips, the voltages are far different, but you can use it to light up the linear fluorescent tube that is a few watts smaller than origin CFL. For lighting up a LED strip you need a 12V, you can use a cheap plug-in power supply to light it up (some old routers uses external 12V power supply), but the CFL has more than 300V output.

MartinL10 made it! (author)2015-04-04

It's a good source for electronics, also it's a good source of circuit boards for small gadgets, you can sandpaper the tracks off the bottom and make small lights with Joule Thief circuit and single battery. SC bare spiral CFL's can be taken apart quite easily without tools, others only need a small tools to pry open from the seal of two plastic parts - it takes a practice to polish the method. I have a 30+ boards collected so far to be taken apart for parts, the bulb waste collection boxes are a good source for EOL CFL's.

PhilKE3FL (author)2014-04-16

"There are no bonus points awarded for saving the PCB" - Huh? What if you have a use for the PCB? I reused one to make another circuit. It had holes and connections/traces I could use. The PCB could be one of the parts you want to reuse. see: - Yes, I know, I did not "need" the PCB, but it was nice to be able to use it, and I could, but ONLY because I had saved it along with the other parts.

PhilKE3FL (author)PhilKE3FL2014-04-16

Oops, I don't like the fact that I can not copy and paste into these comments, I got the URL above wrong because I had to type it in. Let's see if I can do it correctly this time, try this link:

safari420 (author)PhilKE3FL2014-04-29

you can hold ctrl+v

PhilKE3FL (author)safari4202014-04-30

OK, I did a copy and here is me holding Ctrl-V: - Huh? Nothing was loaded? what happened? Here I'll try again, I do a high-light of all the above text - then I clicked Ctrl-C for copy, and now I'll press Ctrl-V to paste: Huh? Nothing again! As I said I do NOT like the fact that I can not copy and paste. Or, can you do it but I can not? In which case it is a problem with my computers, IE11? what? Oh, and by the way, if I now hold ctrl-V while in my text editor, low and behold, the last test copied is in fact pasted there, just NOT HERE!?!

safari420 (author)PhilKE3FL2014-04-30

something must be off with your browser my friend because i can copy paste ok. i can send you a screenshot if you don't believe me. why do you sound so upset im just trying to help

PhilKE3FL (author)safari4202014-04-30

Sorry if I sounded upset I'm not. Yes, you are correct - here's a test from home:

This is just a test from text editor to paste into instructables using Firefox 28.0 - this works so it must be something with the security settings in IE 11 at work. I'll have to ask, not that anything will be done about it.

Thanks for the info & trying to help & again, sorry if my text sounded upset safari.


safari420 (author)PhilKE3FL2014-04-30

no worries bud. its odd I use Firefox as well. I had the same issue i think it was an add-on in firefox i disabled and started working. hope it helps i know that can be so annoying.

PhilKE3FL (author)safari4202014-05-01

Yup, it is annoying at times. Your response helped me figure out where the problem was, it is NOT with Instructables but the computer at work. It just means I'll need to do bigger postings from home.

pfred2 (author)2012-06-05

Desoldering parts off printed circuit boards with a soldering iron is a waste of time compared to better methods. Personally I use a solder pot, but others successfully use blowtorches, and other means of heating more than a lead at a time. I'd have that whole board stripped before you got your first part off it.

Remember, parts salvage is not board rework! There are no bonus points awarded for saving the PCB. Getting it done, and removing parts in such a manner that they are still functional are the goals.

Mahmoud Alaa (author)pfred22012-06-05

i didn't get it right please explain more

pfred2 (author)Mahmoud Alaa2012-06-05

OK, this guy isn't very good, but he does it how I do it, so he isn't that bad.

You can rig up a molten solder pool on a barbeque with a dished piece of scrap sheet metal. I saw a video of a fellow in China doing similar. Or if you're not into the open flame effect there are articles on this site about how you can make your own solder pot.

The trick is to melt the solder on all leads at once, then parts pop right off. A soldering iron is great to put parts in, because you can attach one lead at a time, but that is no good for taking parts out!

SuperTech-IT (author)pfred22013-12-13

For those without a hot air rework station - a paint stripping gun works great too.
For those with a rework station - just use the hot air wand! LOL.

pfred2 (author)SuperTech-IT2013-12-13

None of that works great because you do not get wetting with just heat. Why would you use rework techniques salvaging components? They're totally different task with different goals, that dictate using different tools, and methods.

Mahmoud Alaa (author)pfred22012-06-05

AHH , ok thanks i get it i will try next time

can you vote for me please?

tealk (author)2013-11-05

for what you can use audio transformer? could it used like normal transformer

Mahmoud Alaa (author)tealk2013-11-11

Yes,i Think so

zoomer296 (author)2013-04-07

or you can use a plasma ball to light it up:

kbowen99 (author)2013-03-23

cool, great idea and concept, except what do you do with the bulb part

dgfarny (author)2012-06-21

Another quick tip for removing components is the use of a hot air gun, got mine from harbor freight for about $10 and use it all the time.

Mahmoud Alaa (author)dgfarny2012-06-23

thanks for the tip

Dream Dragon (author)2012-06-08

There's not a LOT of mercury in those bulbs, there's a MINISCULE amount of mercury in there, and it's not in metallic from, so clean up of a breakage isn't a major headache, the guidelines quoted say more about the originators desire to cover it's legal posterior than the actual hazard presented. That's not to say that the stuff isn't toxic, but some fairly basic common sense precautions should take care of it. After all people have been dealing with Fluorescent tubes for years without it becoming a major HazMat incident.

Could you rip it appart more quickly, possibly, but it's not inappropriate to take time and reinforce your skills. Keep up the good work, thanks for sharing.

The main question is "What are you going to do with the stuff now you've GOT it?" Keep us posted.

ok , first thanks for comment , second you can make Joule Thief with it and you can use the capacitors in a coil gun

Lectric Wizard (author)2012-06-06

For a small PCB & a few parts your methods are just fine,Mahmoud. You don't need a bunch of equipment & all that "hot air" to have fun & learn something. CHEERS!

OK , thanks for commenting

dadoffour (author)2012-06-06

You need to be VERY careful doing this!!! There is allot of Mercury inside those bulbs, it can be very dangerous!
From the EPA's website:
"Before Cleanup

Have people and pets leave the room.
Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:
stiff paper or cardboard;
sticky tape;
damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

During Cleanup

DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After Cleanup

Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of. Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.
Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.
If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours."

As you can see, they're DANGEROUS!

Mahmoud Alaa (author)dadoffour2012-06-06

OK , first thanks for adding your comment and for the information but we don't need the glass tube and we won't break it we will just hack it and take the PCB to get the electronics

About This Instructable




Bio: thank you sunshiine for supporting me : ) i am mahmoud , i live in Egypt , i like to inventing new things form junk and old toys and More »
More by Mahmoud Alaa:TV kill switch , Arduino Tv-B-Gone!!DIY Bluetooth Controlled Robot (Rover) With Live Stream Video!!My Home Made Dremel or Rotary Tool
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