What is the Difference Between Probe-Start Metal Halide and Pulse-Start Metal Halide?

Sustainable energy technology continues to advance as the Probe Start and Pulse Start Metal Halide light sources compete for supremacy. High intensity discharge (HID) Metal Halide lighting sources pass an electric arc through a gas. The technology continues to advance in order to achieve the best light intensity, color and affordability.

“What is Probe Start?”

The Probe Start Metal Halide lamp has better lumen maintenance and longer life than older technologies. Just like a car starter or match, it uses a trigger starter probe located near one of the primary electrodes to get the gas lit. Once the gas is ignited in the chamber, the trigger is turned off kind of like blowing out a match. This Probe Start Metal Halide was an advancement, but still seen as a bit inefficient due to the presence of the probe trigger.

“What is Pulse Start?”

As the manufacturers searched for even better technology, they began to consider the possibilities of a Pulse Start Metal Halide lamp. They wanted to increase the voltage and fill pressure with a superior design. The starter probe trigger was the weak link in the Probe Start lamp; thus, designers figured out how to ignite the lamp without it.

The Pulse Start Metal Halide system delivers numerous volts to get the lamp started. The increased arc tube fill pressure allowed for higher lumen maintenance and life. The top Metal Halide lamps range from 32 to 1000 watts.

With the removal of the probe start trigger, lamp sizes have been reduced. This has lead to more affordable, efficient, cooler-operating systems. The Pulse Start Metal Halide lamp is more energy-efficient than the Probe Start Metal Halide lamp.

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LED Metal-Halide

What Happens When New Technology Replaces the Industry Standard?

In a word, the old technology is TOAST! This is the case with high intensity discharge (HID) luminaires, lamps and ballasts. With rapidly improving performance, which is now in many instances superior to HID, LED luminaires are being used in new projects and replacing HID luminaires as the HID luminaires need to be changed. Typical applications for HID lamps are bollard lights, wall packs, area lights, and street lights. The net effect as reported by NEMA is HID lamp indexes continue to slide. NEMA’s shipment indexes for HID lamps in Q4 2013 continued to decline.

  • Sodium vapor lamps fell 5.7% to 32.3% market share
  • Metal halide lamps declined 3.6% to 63.7% market share
  • Mercury vapor lamps dropped 5.6% to 4.0% market share

A telling trend is metal halide lamp sales contracted for the seventh consecutive quarter. The future is bright and LED. If you are changing your HID lighting, be sure to check out the latest LED alternatives. Your investigation will be worthwhile.

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General Lighting Sports Metal-Halide

2013 Super Bowl MVP Pick Disillusionist

I, Dr Bulb am a positive guy, but some things just are not right, like the selection of the 2013 Super Bowl MVP. Joe Flacco was the winning quarterback and was selected as MVP, but was that the right choice? No. Jacoby Jones would have been an excellent choice as he made a record tying 108-yard kickoff return and touchdown.

Why the light bulbs? When the lights went out, the game stopped. 34 minutes later when the lights went back on the game was able to continue. There was nothing as important to the game as the MVP light bulbs!

Light bulb aficionados know New Orleans Superdome arena is lit by sports lighters that use metal halide lamps. While most are looking at the game, I sit looking up wondering if the lighting is metal halide or pulse start metal halide. In this case the timing made it obvious, metal halide.

When the lights went out, a 15-minute cool down period was required. The cool down might have taken place while power was being restored. Once power was restored there is a restrike time. This is the 7 to 8 minutes it takes for the metal halide lamps to come back up to full power. Once the sports lighters were all on and the lamps came up to full power the game could resume.

No light. No game. Lights on. Let the games begin. The light bulbs should be MVP. I rest my case.