Metal-Halide Finding New Life in Retail


In last issue's Specifier's Notebook we reported that T5-HO lamps were making inroads into high-bay applications such as warehouses and big-box retail operations—the traditional domain of HID fixtures. Metal-halide lamps, however, are by no means dead, and in fact are seeing new life in many retail operations. According to Barbara Cianci Horton, a senior principal with Horton Lees Brogden Lighting Design (HLB), New York, new state energy requirements, particularly Title 24 in California, are driving a need for better lamp efficiency. HLB, in fact, turned to ceramic metal-halides for a recent project it performed in the Golden State for Bloomingdale's.

That's not so surprising according to Jane Beasley, a product manager with Danvers, Mass.-based Sylvania. "In retail, we've definitely seen a shift from tungsten halogen to ceramic metal-halide," she said.

Furthermore, Beasley said that those already using ceramic metal-halides are converting from cylindrical lamps to the more rounded "powerball" type Sylvania produces, as these bulbs typically have a CRI of around 88 compared to the 82 CRI typical of older cylindrical bulbs. Additionally, Beasley noted that rounded ceramic metal-halide bulbs offer a superior lumens-to-watts ratio—90—to the 25 produced by cylindrical bulbs.

But the icing on the cake, she said, is the fact that the CRI of these newer bulbs holds up over a lamp's life. Sylvania hopes to debut a new bulb in the near future that will achieve a CRI of 95.

Holophane, at the Lighfair conference this past spring, also announced an innovation concerning ceramic metal-halide products—in this case, its ISD Superglass product. The globe's new prismatic casting, according to the Newark, Ohio-based manufacturer, should improve optical output by up to 30%.

Traditional HIDs, however, still have their place according to John Cummings, director of HID products for Rosemont, Ill.-based Advance Transformer.

"There's unquestionably a trend toward the use of fluorescents in high-bay applications, but many retailers still like the single point direction of HIDs," he said.

What's noteworthy in his mind is the fact that innovations are being made on the ballast side, particularly on the dimming front, that "put metal-halide in the same playing field as a T5-HO."

Advance, in fact, exhibited its Dyna-vision dimmable electronic ballast for 400-watt pulse-start metal-halide bulbs at Lightfair.

"Everyone who wants to talk about HID notes dimming; you've got to have dimming," said Cummings.

Advance is also developing a dimmable electronic ballast for its ceramic metal-halide lamps.

But back to retail, a key trend Advance is capitalizing on is the miniaturization of ballasts and fixtures themselves. That, according to Cummings, led to the development of its e-Vision electronic ceramic metal-halide ballast, which is 40% smaller than similar ballasts. The product is part of an integrated 20-watt lamp geared toward retail track lighting that Advance has developed in conjunction with is sister company Phillips Lighting.

Of course, it's good that developments are being made with various kinds of lamps, as summarized by G.E.'s Mary Beth Gotti: "You really don't have to choose; there's no reason you can't mix fluorescents and metal halide."

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