Are halogen lights really bad environmentally?

wildmonsterAugust 8, 2004

Hello! I am planning the lighting in my new (mid-sized) kitchen, and the most "aesthetically pleasing" way involves the use of halogen bulbs (about 8). I worry that they are not environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Should I try to avoid them? Are they really bad for the environment?

I have looked in various websites and I am confused. (I have never used halogen lamps - all the other lights in the house are compact fluorescent.)

Most grateful for advice! Thanks!


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Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent light bulb. They are slightly more efficient than standard incandescents, and they last somewhat longer. But that's not saying a lot, because standard incandescents have extremely poor efficiency. In essence, an incandescent light bulb of any type is a small electric heater that throws off a little bit of light as a by product of the heat.

However, having said that, halogens have a quality to their light that many people like, and they are somewhat more versatile than fluorescents in that they are easier to dim, and the small bulbs and fixtures can often fit neatly into spaces where fluorescents would be hard to mount.

Here's what I would do: Put in the halogens in if that's what gives you the look you like, but also install some fluorescent lighting in the kitchen to use during times when light quality is not so critical. Kitchen lights are often turned on and left on hours and hours a day, and sometimes are even left on all night to provide added security and safety. It would be nice to have fluorescents to leave on for all of those hours, and reserve the halogens for when you're preparing a meal, eating, or entertaining guests.

Having the fluorescents to use at other times would cut your kitchen lighting energy usage to a fraction of what it would be with just the halogens. Also, it would also reduce by about 75 percent the amount of heat going into your kitchen, which could be a Godsend if you're preparing a meal on a hot afternoon or evening -- a possible time when you might be willing to tolerate the slightly less desirable quality of the fluorescent light in exchange for staying cooler. Also, halogen bulbs are often fairly costly, and they only last about 2,500 to 3,500 hours, which is about 1/4 to 1/3 what fluorescent bulbs last. By having the fluorescents as well as the halogens, you can greatly prolong the life of your halogen bulbs.

So, the "dual lighting" plan would save you energy, cut down unwanted heat going into your house, and reduce bulb replacement expense.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 4:15PM
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Cowboy is right . . . . they are simply slightly more efficient heaters that give off a spectrum that's a bit different than standard incandescents.

I'll add that there are CFL's that can be had in different spectrums, if the COLOR of the light is what you're trying to get by going to halogens. Additionally; there are lots of new CFL fixtures out all the time; meant to replace what was once only the domain of incandescents. Cans, spots . . . etc. Keep your eyes open and you may find the type you want in a fluorescent . . . some of which are dimmable . . . .


    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 5:58AM
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Thank you SO MUCH for the great info and ideas! I am definitely keeping away from halogen in the kitchen and will use CFL's instead. I am so glad I asked for advice!


    Bookmark   August 9, 2004 at 8:11AM
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You can use low voltage halogens with transformers. 10 and 20 watt halogens put out a lot of light and can be dimmed. They're a good choice where you want bright task light without using a lot of energy.

I like CFL's and have a lot of them, but they don't always provide the right light.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2004 at 5:04PM
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