With the increasing push to make lighting more efficient, many designers are starting to look at metal halide and other HID (high intensity discharge) lamps as a viable alternative to fluorescent and incandescent lighting sources. Though this light source has been traditionally used in warehouses, parking lots, and other commercial areas, its use has recently expanded, making it a viable lighting alternative even in outdoor residential settings.
What are HID lamps? These lamps are compact and efficient sources of powerful light that require a ballast, much like fluorescent lamps. Also like fluorescents, these lamps use rare earth metal salts in combination with mercury vapor stored in a vacuum tube. When electricity passes through the lamp’s electrodes, the vapor and salts illuminate, producing a large amount of light in the right color spectrum. This type of energy-efficient lighting works well in general lighting situations, as floodlights, and in security areas.
HID lamps take a short amount of time to get to their brightest illumination. The temperature and pressure inside the vacuum needs to reach an optimal temperature before maximum illumination happens. Some will take only a few seconds while some may require a couple of minutes. When a lamp shuts off, many of them require a few minutes to cool down before they can be re-lit.
If you are considering HID lighting, you can do no better than pulse start metal halides. These are the most energy-efficient of HID lighting types, and their cost is becoming more affordable. Their small bulb shape allows them to offer many advantages that fluorescent sources cannot, and with their long lamp life, you will find their cost low in comparison to incandescents.