What Are Halogen Light Bulbs?

Doesn’t it seem like a regular light bulb just doesn’t last very long. As soon as you put one in, another one is going out. Replacing light bulbs all the time can get expensive and is not very good for the environment. More used bulbs means more waste that has to be disposed of in out landfills. Also, regular light bulbs are not very energy efficient. A good alternative to regular light bulbs is halogen bulbs. But what are halogen lights bulbs and how are they different from regular light bulbs?

How Incandescent Light Bulbs Work


Before you can understand what makes the halogen bulb so different, you need to know the basics on how a regular light bulbs works. A regular light bulb is called an incandescent bulb. Everyone knows that an incandescent light bulb is made of very fragile glass (I have broken my share so I know). Inside the glass bulb are two wires that connect to what is called a filament. The two wires are attached to the metal base of the bulb which makes contact with an electrical source. The electricity flows up the two wires and heats up the filament.

The filament of the light bulb is made up of tungsten. It is the best material for producing light. When the electricity heats up the tungsten filament, it reaches degrees of approximately 4,000 Fahrenheit. At this level the tungsten turns white hot which gives off light.

The problem with tungsten is that it evaporates the more it is used. In order to slow down the evaporation process, the inside of the glass bulb is filled with argon, which is an inert gas. As an inert gas, it will not react to the heat given off from the tungsten so it won’t catch fire. Early light bulbs actually had the air vacuumed out of them so the oxygen in the bulb would not burn.

Incandescent bulbs are cheap and easy to make but they are fragile (a good bump will break the filament before you can use it), they burn up too quickly, and they give off heat which is wasted energy. A lot of their energy is given off as infrared light which is invisible to the human eye. Only about 10% of the energy of a light bulb can be seen.

How Halogen Light Bulbs Work

Halogen light bulbs work by using the same basic principles as an incandescent bulbs. Electricity flows through a set of wires to heat up a tungsten filament. But that is where the similarities end. In a halogen bulb, the filament is encased in a clear quartz capsule in the center of the bulb. This capsule is filled with a halogen gas (hence the name). Halogen gas is also inert and will not react to high temperatures.

As the tungsten is used, it still goes through an evaporation process. But the halogen gas reacts to the evaporated tungsten particles and causes them to stick back together instead of disintegrating and floating free. This causes the tungsten filament to last longer than it would in an incandescent bulb.

Another benefit of using halogen is that the tungsten can run hotter which gives off more light, thus making it brighter than an incandescent bulb. The drawback to this is that it still gives off heat and gets much hotter than regular bulbs. Many house fires have been caused due to this.

Different Types of Halogen Lights

The most common type of halogen lights are flood lights. These lamps are used for outdoor lighting for security purposes or in construction areas where there is yet a light source. They have a high wattage in order to completely light up a large darkened area.

Another type of halogen lights are JDD type bulbs. They have a tube shape and a medium screw-in base. These bulbs have an outer casing of glass over the bulb itself.

The halogen bulb known as a solux bulb is a patented light bulb that is designed to replicate the full spectrum of daylight. These bulbs are used in light therapy, photography, museum lighting, and in automobile painting.

And finally there are the MR halogen bulbs. These are small reflector lights that are slightly smaller than one and a half inches in diameter. They are very low wattage and have a base with two pins instead of a screw-in base.

Other Sources For Light

While Halogen lights provide a much brighter light source and they last longer than an incandescent bulb, they still burn very hot. This wastes energy and can cause your electric bill to go up. As technology gets better and more people are becoming environmentally aware, they are turning to sources of cool lighting. This is a lighting source that does not give off as much heat and wastes less energy. Two good sources of cool lighting are fluorescent lights and LEDs. These sources are better for both your home and your environment.

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