Design Brief: High Intensity Fluorescent Lighting

February 1, 2004
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Table of ContentsNew high-intensity fluorescents outshine their high-intensity discharge competitors. They are often more efficient and feature lower lumen depreciation rates, better dimming options, instant start-up, and better color rendition.High-intensity-discharge (HID) light sources, such as metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps, have long dominated the market for lighting indoor spaces with high ceilings. These "high-bay" spaces are typically found in warehouses, factories, large retail stores, and athletic facilities. In recent years, however, improvements in fluorescent lighting technology have resulted in the emergence of new high-intensity fluorescent fixtures, which are superior to HID fixtures in numerous ways. Combining thin fluorescent tubes (5/8 inch) with electronic ballasts and highly efficient reflective fixtures, high-intensity fluorescent systems are often more efficient than comparable HID systems. Furthermore, they feature lower lumen depreciation rates, better dimming options, virtually instant start-up and restrike, and better color rendition. These additional benefits are so compelling that designers may specify high-intensity fluorescent systems even if they save no energy at all. HID manufacturers are improving their products as well. For example, new lamp and ballast designs make HIDs more efficient and faster starting. New reflector designs are making HID fixtures much more efficient as well. However, until HID manufacturers make dramatic improvements in start-up times and lumen depreciation rates, fluorescents will continue to be advantageous in a variety of applications.

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