High-Intensity Discharge Lamps

Compared to fluorescent and incandescent lamps, high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps produce a large quantity of light in a small package.

HID lamps produce light by striking an electrical arc across tungsten electrodes housed inside a specially designed inner glass tube. This tube is filled with both gas and metals. The gas aids in the starting of the lamps. Then, the metals produce the light once they are heated to a point of evaporation. Like fluorescent lamps, HID lamps require a ballast to start and maintain their operation.

Types of HID lamps include mercury vapor (CRI range 15-55), metal halide (CRI range 65-80), and high-pressure sodium (CRI range 22-75) (about CRI). Mercury vapor lamps, which originally produced a bluish-green light, were the first commercially available HID lamps. Today, they are also available in a color corrected, whiter light. But they are still often being replaced by the newer, more efficient high-pressure sodium and metal halide lamps. Standard high-pressure sodium lamps have the highest efficacy of all HID lamps, but they produce a yellowish light. High-pressure sodium lamps that produce a whiter light are now available, but efficiency is somewhat sacrificed. Metal halide lamps are less efficient but produce an even whiter, more natural light. Colored metal halide lamps are also available.

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Figure 111: A high intensity discharge lamp

HID lamps are typically used when high levels of light are required over large areas and when energy efficiency and/or long life are desired. These areas include gymnasiums, large public areas, warehouses, outdoor activity areas, roadways, parking lots, and pathways. More recently, however, HID sources, especially metal halide, have been used in small retail and residential environments.

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