What are the differentiating characteristics of incandescent, fluorescent, and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps? 
Incandescent lamps:

  • Appear "warm" in color and have an excellent color rendering.
  • Are the least efficient of general lamp types due to the amount of energy consumed heating the filament in order for the lamp to turn incandescent.
  • Have a short lamp life of between 500 and 3,000 hours.
  • Are easy to install because no ballast is required.

Fluorescent lamps:

  • Are available in a complete range of color combinations.
  • Produce low heat.
  • Require a more extensive installation because ballasts are a necessary part of the fixture.
  • Due to smaller sizes and screw base features, fluorescents can replace incandescent lamps.
  • Have an extremely long life of up to 24,000 hours.

High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps:

  • Are ideal for large stores, warehouses, auditoriums, outdoor parking areas, and applications where efficiency is a priority.
  • Have a warm-up period, which results in slower start-up.
  • Deliver a large amount of light over a wide area.
  • Have a long life of between 5,000 and 24,000 hours.
  • Require ballasts.

What lighting options are there?

Incandescent Lamps
Regular incandescent lamps produce light by passing an electric current through a filament in a vacuum or gas-filled tube. Low initial cost, good color rendition and excellent optical control.

Halogen Lamps

Also use a filament, but since it is sealed in a pressurized capsule containing halogen gas, it provides a brighter, whiter light, longer service life and improved efficiency.

Linear Fluorescent Lamps
An electric arc passing between cathodes in a tube excites mercury vapor and other gases and produces UV radiant energy. A phosphor coating on the tube then converts this energy to visible light. Fluorescent lamps are very energy efficient and provide a wide range of color responses.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Employ smaller diameter tubes that are bent to they begin and end in a ceramic base. This allows them to be produced in a wide variety of configurations, greatly extending the applications for fluorescent lighting.

Electronic Ballasts
The electric arc in any fluorescent system is generated by a ballast. The ballast starts the lamp, then limits is operating current and provides power factor correction. Modern electronic ballasts perform these functions with great efficiency and provide other control functions as well.

High-Intensity Discharge Lamps
In HID lamps, an arc passing between two cathodes in a pressurized tube causes various metallic additives to vaporize and release large amounts of light. All HID lamps offer outstanding energy efficiency and service life. Metal halide lamps also offer good excellent CRI.

Photo-Optic Lamps
Photo-Optic lamps employ a variety of technologies to meet the very precise levels of performance required by the entertainment industry, science,medicine and other high-tech fields.


Lighting Care Company
457 Russells Mills Rd.
S. Dartmouth, MA 02719

Phone: 508-995-7497
Email: gerry@lightingcare.com

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