Some of you may ask yourselves: “What is a xenon bulb?”
Xenon bulbs are most commonly known for their use in the automobile industry, specifically for headlights. They are however, energy efficient and can also be used for home lighting and in flashlights, they are especially great for areas that need to be well lit.
What is a Xenon Bulb?
Named after the gas that they are filled with, xenon bulbs are a form of incandescent lighting. The xenon gas extends the life of the tungsten filament, and both are encased within a globe of high melting-point glass.
Why add gas?
Regular incandescent light bulbs develop vacuums within their glass as air oxidizes the glowing tungsten filament. When an inert gas, like xenon or halogen, is added it slows down this process and the life of the bulb is prolonged. That is because the large gas molecules deflect the tungsten molecules. This slows their rate of evaporation and the filament keeps going for longer.
Xenon is an odorless and colorless gas and not only does it retard the filament evaporation, but also produces a bright-white light when electrified.
Why consider a xenon bulb?
Both halogen and xenon are gases and when added to bulbs they work more efficiently than regular incandescent globes. Xenon though, is by far the more expensive of the two gases.
When compared to halogen bulbs, xenon bulbs last five times longer. In commercial bulbs halogen gives 1,000 hours use, whereas xenon anything from 8,000 to 20,000 hours. In the home environment they last about 3,000 to 5,000 hours, and sometimes even more.
Where can you use xenon lamps?
- Automotive lighting
- Portable flashlights
- Work lights
- Under cabinet lighting
- Accent lighting
- Recessed lighting
- Task lights
- Desk lamps
- Artwork lighting
Benefits of using xenon bulbs
- Available in clear and frosted glass options according to your preference.
- They have a better and warmer light that is more pleasant to the eye than that of halogen bulbs, even though they both have a similar color rendering index (CRI).
- When they burn they don’t emit the same amount of heat as halogen bulbs, helping to keep the temperatures in the areas lit cooler and save energy.
- Xenon gas requires less heat to produce light and saves on electricity.
- Halogen light bulbs will have a greatly reduced light expectancy if touched directly on the bulb with bare hands, whereas xenon bulbs have no such problem.
- There is no danger of having curtains and upholstery that are near the lights fade. The reason for this is that they emit minimal UV rays.
- There is no danger of pressure building.
- For those living in areas with unstable voltages with many dips and spikes, xenon bulbs will have a longer lifespan than other light bulbs, especially fluorescents.
- Xenon lights can be used with standard light dimmers (unlike LEDs and CFLs which need the dimmer to be compatible with light bulbs that are also dimmable), making then energy efficient and giving you various lighting options for your living spaces.
You can use xenon lighting where you would have previously used incandescent or halogen bulbs.
Just remember to ensure:
- That they have the same wattage and voltage
- The lamp envelope or glass should be the same shape and size
- Lastly, the lamps should have the same type of base e.g. bipin, festoon, wedge and so on.
Recycling and the environment
Besides being more energy efficient than halogen and incandescent, xenon light bulbs are also much easier to dispose of especially when compared to CFLs. All types of light bulbs must be recycled, while CFLs need to be handled carefully because they contain mercury.
Xenon bulbs don’t contain mercury and if one breaks you won’t be exposed to any harmful toxins, whereas if a CFL breaks you must protect your hands by wearing gloves and put on a face mask to prevent breathing in the dust. The broken pieces must be placed in a sealed container and taken to a CFL recycling center. Also turn off the cooling or heating system in your home or office for at least 15 minutes.
In Europe many countries are phasing out Halogen bulbs due to their inefficiency, and incandescent bulbs are almost obsolete. LEDs are taking over the global market because they are the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
So, LEDs are the winners since they are 90% more efficient than standard bulbs and xenon bulbs, which have very few downsides, come in second.