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Ask The LightingExpert: Halogen & Heat

Furniture World Magazine


“How can I cut down on the heat given off by halogen lighting?”

Editor’s note: This month, contributing editor & lighting expert Monte Lee tackles a question posted to FURNITURE WORLD Magazine’s furninfo.com message board. Have a question? Check the database of 60,000 messages on www.furninfo.com. Can’t find an answer? Asked one of our contributing editors or any one of the many contributors to the furninfo.com message board.

How Can I Cut Down On Heat Given Off By Halogen Displays In My Store?

Question From Jordan: Dear Monte Lee, I appreciate your taking the time to read this email and loved your recent FURNITURE WORLD article. I’ve recently been thinking about redoing our furniture store lighting. We use track lighting to showcase our furniture pieces, making sure there is not much light on the ground or the wall, but enough on the furniture to make it stand out. At the moment we are using LITETRONICS halogen 90W Par-38 / 120-125V Flood 28º / L-4081 lamps. One of my friends mentioned that he switched from basically the same lamp to a type of fluorescent lamp that gives the same light output and has the same lighting effect as a halogen lamp. The halogen lamps we use seem to put out way too much heat, and they actually make some of our showrooms pretty warm in certain areas. My friend mentioned that the fluorescent lamps don’t give out much heat and I am wondering if you could suggest a good alternative lamp that would benefit my store.

Hi Jordan, OK, lets look at the components of your question.

Reply from Monte: Heat? Watts is watts. What I mean is every watt of electricity “burned” equals a watt of heat your air conditioner needs to deal with. It doesn’t matter if halogen or fluorescent lighting uses that watt. If you use 100 watts of electricity for lighting, you get 100 watts of heat from lighting.

The fact is that fluorescent lighting is inherently more efficient, so it produces more light per watt of electricity. That means that I can typically get the same amount of light from a 100 watt, incandescent bulb as I do from a 23-28 watt fluorescent. Fewer watts means less heat.

Same lighting effect? Not really. Look at it this way: If I could get the light I need by substituting fluorescent lighting for halogen, why wouldn’t I have used all fluorescent in the first place? If you look closely at other areas of retail quite the opposite is true. Retailers are adding point sources for accent. Target stores and WalMart, for example, have typically been “fluorescent only” stores, but have been adding track lighting to high value displays. The same is true for grocers but I will talk about them in a minute.

The reason we like diffuse sources (like fluorescent lighting) is they create a basically uniform light field with no shadows. The reason we like point sources (like halogen) is they don’t create a uniform light field. Rather, they create brighter spots than the ambient or background lighting; they highlight the product; and, they create shadows large and small. The focused light from a point in space - the filament, causes merchandise to “pop” - catching the customer’s attention.

The bulb you are using is 90 watts (90W PAR) so it is a simple matter to reduce your lighting bill and heat load by 33% and have better light on your merchandise. The answer is 60PAR38/IRC where the IRC stands for InfraRed Coated. The inner capsule reflects waste heat back onto the filament, makes it burn hotter, and generates more light with less energy. We use 60 watts to get about 90 watts of light – one-third the heat and electricity consumption. Basically these bulbs pay for themselves and then give additional savings. Call me and I’ll do the math for you.

I mentioned grocers earlier because they are on retail lighting’s leading edge. They’ve done the math and know that:

• Better lighting means higher sales.
• The biggest lighting expenses are electricity and labor.

Grocers are using ceramic metal halide technology that costs more initially but pays back over time because it has the lowest operating cost. There is an important message here. The folks with the thinnest margins are using the most expensive lighting technology.

Some furniture customers have switched from track lighting to fluorescent. Those who survived switched back to halogen because, like the grocers, they discovered good lighting is essential for sales. - Regards, Monte

Monte Lee is a Regional Manager for Service Lamp Corporation, a distributor of lighting products and services. Inquiries on any aspect of furniture store lighting can be sent to him at mlee@furninfo.com. See all of Monte Lee’s articles on store lighting posted to the www.furninfo.com website.