Lighting Research Center Lighting Research Center
    Volume 7 Issue 1
January 2003 (revised March 2005)    
ANSI code - American National Standards Institute (ANSI) code that indicates the electrical operating designation of the lamp, which must match that of the ballast. ballast - A device required by electric-discharge light sources such as fluorescent or HID lamps to regulate voltage and current supplied to the lamp during start and throughout operation. gas-discharge lamps - An electric lamp that produces light from gas atoms excited by an electric current. lamp starting current - Current flowing through a lamp during starting operation. line voltage - The voltage supplied by the electric power infrastructure, typically 110-120 Vac at 60 Hz for homes in North America. lumen depreciation - The decrease in lumen output that occurs as a lamp is operated, until failure. Also referred to as lamp lumen depreciation (LLD). multitap - A passive distribution component composed of a directional coupler and a splitter with two or more output connections. supply voltage - The voltage, usually direct, applied by an external source to the circuit of an electrode. voltage drop - The difference between the voltages at the transmitting and receiving ends of a feeder, main, or service. color rendering index (CRI) - A rating index commonly used to represent how well a light source renders the colors of objects that it illuminates. For a CRI value of 100, the maximum value, the colors of objects can be expected to be seen as they would appear under an incandescent or daylight spectrum of the same correlated color temperature (CCT). Sources with CRI values less than 50 are generally regarded as rendering colors poorly, that is, colors may appear unnatural. color shift - The change in a lampís correlated color temperature (CCT) at 40% of the lampís rated life, in kelvin (K). ultraviolet - Any radiant energy within the wavelength range 100 to 400 nanometers is considered ultraviolet radiation (1 nanometer = 1 billionth of a meter, or 1 X 10-9 m). arc tube - An envelope, usually quartz or ceramic that contains the arc of a discharge light source. electrodes - The structure that serves as the electric terminals at each end of electric discharge lamps. high-intensity discharge (HID) - An electric lamp that produces light directly from an arc discharge under high pressure. Metal halide, high-pressure sodium, and mercury vapor are types of HID lamps. ignitor - A device, either by itself or in association with other components, that generates voltage pulses to start discharge lamps. capacitor - A device used in electric circuitry to temporarily store electrical charge in the form of an electrostatic field. In lighting, a capacitor is used to smooth out alternating current from the power supply. voltage regulation - The change in output voltage that occurs when the load (at a specified power factor) is reduced from rated value to zero, with the primary impressed terminal voltage maintained constant. starting voltage - The voltage applied across the lamp during starting. restrike time - The time required for a lamp to restrike, or start, and to return to 90% of its stabilized light output after the lamp is extinguished. Normally, HID lamps need to cool before they can be restarted. initial light output - A lamp's light output, in lumens, after 100 hours of seasoning. root-mean-square (rms) - The effective average value of a periodic quantity such as an alternating current or voltage wave, calculated by averaging the squared values of the amplitude over one period and taking the square root of that average. warm-up time - The time it takes for a lamp to produce 90% of its stabilized light output when it is started, unless otherwise indicated. high-pressure sodium (HPS) - A high-intensity discharge lamp type that uses sodium under high pressure as the primary light-producing element. HPS lamps produce light with a correlated color temperature (CCT) of approximately 2000 kelvins, although CCTs for lamps having higher CRI values range from 2200 to 2700 kelvins. Standard lamps have a CRI value of 22; others have CRI values from 60 to 80. HPS lamps are among the most efficacious light sources, with efficacies as high as 150 lumens per watt, although those with higher CRI values have efficacies as low as 25 lumens per watt. lamp operating current - Current flowing through a lamp during normal operation. lamp life - The median life span of a very large number of lamps (also known as the average rated life). Half of the lamps in a sample are likely to fail before the rated lamp life, and half are likely to survive beyond the rated lamp life. For discharge light sources, such as fluorescent and HID lamps, lamp life depends on the number of starts and the duration of the operating cycle each time the lamp is started. lumen (lm) - A unit measurement of the rate at which a lamp produces light. A lamp's light output rating expresses the total amount of light emitted in all directions per unit time. Ratings of initial light output provided by manufacturers express the total light output after 100 hours of operation. luminaire - A complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps and the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamp(s), and to connect the lamp(s) to the power supply. (Also referred to as fixture.) correlated color temperature (CCT) - A specification for white light sources used to describe the dominant color tone along the dimension from warm (yellows and reds) to cool (blue). Lamps with a CCT rating below 3200 K are usually considered warm sources, whereas those with a CCT above 4000 K usually considered cool in appearance. Temperatures in between are considered neutral in appearance. Technically, CCT extends the practice of using temperature, in kelvins (K), for specifying the spectrum of light sources other than blackbody radiators. Incandescent lamps and daylight closely approximate the spectra of black body radiators at different temperatures and can be designated by the corresponding temperature of a blackbody radiator. The spectra of fluorescent and LED sources, however, differ substantially from black body radiators yet they can have a color appearance similar to a blackbody radiator of a particular temperature as given by CCT. current crest factor (CCF) - Defined as the peak current divided by the root-mean-square (rms) current of a lamp. Current crest factor ranges from 1 to infinity. ANSI requires current crest factor to be less than 1.7. Lamp manufacturers usually will not warranty their lamps when operated on a ballast having a current crest factor greater than 1.7. operating cycle - The frequency with which lamps are cycled on and off. efficacy - The ratio of the light output of a lamp (lumens) to its active power (watts), expressed as lumens per watt. mean light output - Light output typically evaluated at 40% of rated lamp life. In combination with initial light output, mean light output may be used to estimate lamp lumen depreciation. mercury vapor (MV) lamp - A high-intensity discharge lamp type that uses mercury as the primary light-producing element. Mercury vapor lamps produce light with a CCT from 3000 to 7000 K. Mercury vapor lamps with clear outer bulbs have CRI values from 15 to 25, whereas phosphor-coated lamps have CRI values from 40 to 55. Mercury vapor lamps are less efficacious than other HID lamp types, typically producing only 30 to 65 LPW, but they have longer lamp lives and lower initial costs than other HID lamp types. phosphors - Materials used in a light source to produce or modify its spectral emission distribution. In fluorescent and high intensity discharge lamps, the phosphors fluoresce (emit visible light) when excited by ultraviolet radiation produced by mercury vapor inside the lamp when energized by an electric arc. In a light emitting diode, phosphors convert short-wavelength light or ultraviolet radiation produced by a semiconductor die into longer-wavelength light, usually with the goal of producing white illumination. position factor - The light output of the lamp in a certain position divided by the light output of the lamp in the base-up position. power - The power used by a device to produce useful work (also called input power or active power). In lighting, it is the system input power for a lamp and ballast or driver combination. Power is typically reported in the SI units of watts. power factor (PF) - The ratio of active power (in watts) to apparent power (in rms volt-amperes), power factor is a measure of how effectively an electric load converts power into useful work. Power factor (PF) is calculated using the equation PF = (active power) / [(rms voltage) x (rms current)]. Phase displacement and current distortion both reduce power factor. A power factor of 0.9 or greater indicates a high power factor ballast. lumen maintenance - The ability of a lamp to retain its light output over time. Greater lumen maintenance means a lamp will remain brighter longer. The opposite of lumen maintenance is lumen depreciation, which represents the reduction of lumen output over time. Lamp lumen depreciation factor (LLD) is commonly used as a multiplier to the initial lumen rating in illuminance calculations to compensate for the lumen depreciation. The LLD factor is a dimensionless value between 0 and 1. chromaticity - The dominant or complementary wavelength and purity aspects of the color taken together, or of the aspects specified by the chromaticity coordinates of the color taken together. It describes the properties of light related to hue and saturation, but not luminance (brightness). color variation - Lamps of the same type made by the same manufacturer may exhibit a certain degree of variation in color, even when operated under the same conditions and seasoned for the same about of time. CIE - Abbreviated as CIE from its French title Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage, the International Commission on Illumination is a technical, scientific, and cultural organization devoted to international cooperation and exchange of information among its member countries on matters relating to the science and art of lighting. Kelvin - Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin, which indicathe hue of a specific type of light source. Higher temperatures indicate whiter, "cooler" colors, while lower temperatures indicate yellower, "warmer" colors. MacAdam ellipse - Researcher David L. MacAdam showed that a just noticeable difference (JND) in the colors of two lights placed side-by-side was about three times the standard deviation associated with making color matches between a reference light and a test light (MacAdam 1942, Wyszecki and Stiles 1982). These JNDs form an elliptical pattern of "constant discriminability" in a chromaticity space, centered on the chromaticity of a reference light, known as MacAdam ellipse.


Lighting Answers: Mid-wattage Metal Halide Lamps helps lighting professionals to understand mid-wattage metal halide lamps and their most important performance characteristics. It explains the how the lamps work, the differences between quartz and ceramic arc tubes, and the differences between probe-start and pulse-start technologies. It provides information about issues such as burning position, warm-up, and restrike times. Finally, this publication provides pointers to lighting professionals on how to choose mid-wattage metal halide lamps.

This publication was first issued in 2003 and revised in 2005. It answers commonly asked questions about mid-wattage metal halide (MH) lamps. This revision includes new data gathered from testing conducted over a 15-month period (October 2002 to January 2004). It does not include information about any additional products. Readers familiar with the original publication will notice new information about lumen maintenance, color shift, and color variation, located in the question: "What are some important characteristics of MH lamps?" This question is complex and has been separated into several sections.


Metal halide (MH) lamps are available in low, mid-range, and high wattages from 35 to 2000 watts (W). Mid-wattage MH lamps range from 175 to 400 W. All major lamp manufacturers offer MH lamps in this range, commonly in wattages of 175, 200, 225, 250, 300, 320, 350, 360, and 400.

MH lamps are a type of high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp that offers long lamp life, high efficacy, and good color rendering properties. In general, they are energy efficient and allow for good optical control. These qualities make them attractive for applications such as retail establishments, where both low operating cost and good light quality are important. Because of their long life, MH lamps are also appropriate for buildings with high ceilings and other facilities in which lighting is constantly in use for many hours at a time. They are popular choices for high-bay and low-bay industrial operations, warehouses, street lighting, and stadium and sports lighting. Like other gas-discharge lamps, all MH lamps require a ballast to operate. (See "Why do metal halide lamps require a ballast?")

MH lamps provide white light in a variety of correlated color temperatures (CCTs) ranging from 3200 to 5200 Kelvin, and are commonly available with a color rendering index (CRI) of 65 to 70, but can also have a CRI of 90 or above. They are superior in color characteristic to most high-pressure sodium (HPS) and mercury vapor (MV) lamps that have lower CRI values.

MH lamps compete with HPS lamps for outdoor applications such as streetlights, roadway lights, security lights, and pedestrian walkways. HPS lamps provide more photopic lumens per watt, but the whiter light of MH lamps provides better peripheral visibility at low illumination levels.


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