Halogen light bulbs operate similarly to an incandescent bulb except that they are filled with halogen gas. Both bulbs have a tungsten filament that is heated, releasing tungsten. An electric bulb will burn out once all of the tungsten has evaporated from the filament, but the halogen gas re-deposits the tungsten back into the filament, extending the life of the bulb. Halogen bulbs have one small bulb within the larger bulb, producing a more direct form of light.
Halogen lighting produces approximately the same amount of heat as an incandescent bulb; about 90% of the energy released compared to florescent lighting that only emits 30%. The bulb walls are made of quartz to withstand high heat. Florescent lighting is much cooler and more energy efficient. As long as you stick with a lower wattage bulb around 60 watts or less, the heat factor shouldn't present a problem. The halogen bulb will last up to 2,000 hours or more, almost twice as long as a regular incandescent bulb.
Benefits of halogen lighting include their crisp white light, cleaner bulbs, and a better quality of light than an incandescent bulb. Another benefit is the wide variety of shapes and sizes they come in, allowing them to be used for many applications. Their small, compact design makes them ideal for accent and task lighting.
You can use a dimmer on halogen bulbs just like incandescent bulbs, however they will not work as efficiently and will reduce the lifespan of the bulb. Heat is essential to the operation of halogen, and unless the bulb reaches 250 degrees C, the bulb will work poorly and the wall will become dirty and black.
With growing awareness of green living, there are more energy efficient halogen bulbs available for the eco-friendly conscious consumer. Osram IRC MR16 bulbs, for instance, use up to 40% less energy than standard halogen bulbs.
Halogen bulbs cost approximately $4 for a 75 watt bulb versus $.50 for a standard incandescent bulb. Although more expensive, they have twice the lifespan and provide a better and more direct light. When installing your new fixtures, talk to your licensed electrical contractor about finding the right bulb to suit your purposes.
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