Metal halide is alive and well

Simon BaierLighting technology, Lowering costs of projectsLeave a Comment

Metal halide lamps are often used in school gyms and other settings requiring extensive lighting design.

Metal halide lamps are often used in school gyms and other settings requiring extensive lighting design.

When it comes to commercial lighting solutions, metal halide lamps have many applications because of their versatility in large-scale outdoor and indoor lighting. In our gyms, hotels, and supermarkets, we have seen these lamps.

Metal halide lamps make their way into commercial lighting design

Metal halide lamps were first developed in the 1960s to improve upon their predecessors, mercury lamps. Although mercury lamps lasted a long time, the color quality went down over time. They were not as useful for commercial application that requires crisp lighting at all times. Due to government regulation, mercury lamps were not used on as wide of a scale and required a more efficient replacement. Enter: MH lamps.

Compared to mercury lamps, MH lamps were a more efficient choice, as they produce 30-57 more lumens per watt. This means they produce more light with less energy. Less energy usage leads to lower energy costs. The efficiency of MH lamps results from their innovative design that gives consumers more out of each bulb.

MH lamps are built to deliver more quality from a single lamp

The key components of MH lamps each work separately and in conjunction to improve the life of the lamp, provide higher color quality and widespread application.

Dual arc tubes are a feature of the lamps that add to longevity. Arc tubes are the part of the lamp that generate light. They warm up and brighten over about a 10-minute period, and require cooling before they can charge again. Having two arc tubes relieves the strain on a single tube, as the lamps randomly switch between the two. When one burns out, the other is functional so that replacements do not need to be purchased as often.

Ceramic MH lamps have a casing around the tubes that allow for higher temperatures with less wear, leading to improved color rendering. Without the casing, those higher temperatures would normally decrease the lifespan of a bulb by causing unwanted changes in color. Their inclusion in the lamps ensures crisp, even lighting over a long time for application in hotel lighting, parking lot lighting, and more.

In addition to the ceramic casings, electronic ballast technology also makes sure the lighting is even by keeping the system stable. Ballasts limit the amount of electricity that goes to an MH lamp under normal operation conditions to prevent too much current from causing a breakdown in the system. The outcome is better efficiency and longevity overall because ballasts help the lamps run at their maximum level without causing too much distress, as well as a drop in energy costs due to consistent energy usage.

Application in commercial electric lighting

Metal halide lamps are built to last and provide a lot of light for less money. Their features make them one of the best choices for commercial exterior lights, facilities lighting, and even commercial office lighting.

These lamps score between 65 to 90 on the color rendering index, which measures how accurately artificial light sources show colors. According to Energy Star, the rating makes MH lamps among the best in regards to mirroring natural light. If they were used in a produce section of a grocery store, the greens would be greener and the reds would be redder. The produce would look healthier. More customers would be attracted to spend money on the products.

Like all lighting, street lights burn out eventually. However, they require more effort and time to replace: a team has to be sent out change it and traffic has to be interrupted while the work is completed. Additionally, it could be awhile before a team is dispatched to change a single light, which isn’t ideal if that light is the one outside of your home. Given that MH lamps can last for over three years while burning continuously, they’ll double that lifespan when used for street lights that only burn for half of the day.

There are even wireless control systems, such as Leafnut, that further improve on the efficiency and ease of implementing MH lamps as the best option when it commercial outdoor lights. Leafnut and similar products improve maintenance and system stability by monitoring all the lamps in the system. Data is monitored by devices in the lamps and uploaded to a secure webpage that can be accessed from any computer. An entire system of area lighting or street lights can be watched and controlled without leaving a chair.

Advanced control systems also save on energy. In addition the the components built into MH lamps that control the amount of electricity used for each lamp, Leafnut helps systems managers set the lamps to operate at the highest capacity without excess energy usage. The web portal has regular reports on the energy consumption of each lamp. If the energy usage for a lamp is too high, they can be dimmed remotely; saving time and money.

Why metal halide is the best choice for retail and facility lighting

There are many lighting options out there, and MH lamps have earned their place as a top contender. Compared to high pressure sodium lamps and fluorescent lamps, MH lamps deliver better quality and versatility.

HPS lamps have lower color rendering than MH lamps. In comparison to the Energy Star rating of the latter, an HPS lamp is not even in the “fair” category due to their low color index rating of 20 to 25. In outdoor settings that don’t require higher quality light, this is not an issue. When it comes to a setting such as a retail store, the products need to be vibrant and attractive. An HPS lamp would not be able to highlight the products in a way that catches a customer’s eye.

In commercial settings like warehouses or industrial shops, fluorescent lights are long and inflexible. Unlike an MH lamp, full-size fluorescent lamps make it harder to redirect the light. They’re shape disables use in creative ways that are not obtrusive.

Conversely, MH lamps can be used to spotlight new products at a department store or light up a busy street in a downtown area. Whether it is an indoor or outdoor application, metal halide lamps are built to last with consistent results and the finest quality available.

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