Last Updated Dec 6, 2010 · Written by Kerry Finch
Two things are important in lighting a large area like a sports field or a warehouse: illumination and energy efficiency. While small spaces in homes and offices may rely on the compact fluorescent for energy efficient lighting, bigger spaces that require the placement of the light source at a higher level use High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting systems like the metal halide.
The metal halide lamp works by allowing electric current to ionize gas which produces a high light output despite the small size of the bulb. This makes the metal halide a compact yet powerful and efficient light source that is preferred in most outdoor settings and large indoor areas.
The metal halide operates under high pressure and temperature so that it may take a few minutes to start and warm up the lamp. When it reaches its maximum illumination, the metal halide produces a white light that appears closer to natural sunlight than any other artificial light source. This quality is sought after by retail stores, commercial office spaces, manufacturing plants, warehouses, sports fields and roadways. In smaller indoor settings, metal halide lamps are also used to support aquarium and plant life.
In choosing the best light source for your requirements, you need to consider the actual cost savings of your lighting options. Actual cost savings will depend on the amount of electricity you save, the cost of the bulb and the lamp life. The metal halide bulb is more energy efficient than the incandescent type because it uses less energy to produce a high light output. The recent addition of the electronic ballasts which are used to ignite the vapour of the metal halide lamp makes the metal halide produce brighter light and prolongs the lifespan of the bulb.
While the metal halide may be more expensive than the incandescent bulb, the amount you save in energy bills and in fewer bulb replacements may offset the initial cost of the metal halide lighting system.
Using the metal halide lighting system is also good for the environment as less energy consumption means less air pollution while less bulb replacements will also result in less waste disposal.