5 Most Common Problems with Induction Lighting

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Induction lighting uses a special type of fluorescent bulb. Induction lights use a magnetic field generator to electrically excite the phosphorus coating on the inside of a glass tube. This type of lamp offers several financial and environmental benefits over traditional electric fluorescent bulbs. Induction bulbs are more energy-efficient and last longer. An induction bulb produces more light for a given amount of electric power than either compact fluorescent bulbs or light-emitting diodes.

High-quality bulbs can operate for 80,000 to 100,000 hours. The bulbs warm up much faster and with less energy than sodium vapor bulbs. This has led some municipalities to adopt induction lamps for street lighting. However, the technology is fairly new and still not widely commercialized. Induction lights have been neglected in favor of LEDs by policymakers such as the U.S. Department of Energy. Problems still exist with the fledgling technology.

1. High Installation Cost

Many lighting contractors are unfamiliar with induction technology, and the number of specialized dealers is limited. Retrofitting existing lighting fixtures is even more expensive. For this reason, many homeowners find the cost of installing an induction system too prohibitive. However, if you are able to find a competent installer, the lower maintenance and operating costs of induction lighting might outweigh the initial cost.

2. Electromagnetic Interference

Induction lights produce electromagnetic radiation, similar to mobile phones or wireless routers. The impact of such radiation on human health has not been completely explored, however, any device you eventually buy will likely conform with all current regulations set by the FCC, FTC, and other administrative agencies. The electromagnetic fields may interfere with other devices, so this limits installation options, especially around medical equipment or other highly sensitive computers.

3. Overheating

If the generator overheats the bulb will fail. Some bulbs are poorly designed and do not provide adequate heat dissipation. These bulbs fail after 15,000 to 30,000 hours. Certain designs address this issue by adding insulation and heat sink fins. Ideally, induction lamps operate at cooler temperatures than regular fluorescent bulbs.

4. Cold

The performance of an induction lamp suffers slightly at temperatures below 0 degrees F. The lamps may take longer to warm up and use energy less efficiently. However, most induction fixtures can start in conditions as cold as -40 degrees F.

5. Mercury

Induction lamps use electromagnets or a magnetic antenna called a power couple to energize solid mercury inside the lamp bulb. The mercury produces ultraviolet light which strikes the phosphorus coating. The phosphorus converts the ultraviolet light to visible light.

If an induction bulb breaks, follow conventional safety procedures for handling a mercury spill. Shut off the building air handler and open the windows. Use gloves, dust mask, and goggles. Pick up the large glass pieces by hand, then blot up smaller fragments with a wide strip of masking tape. Double-bag the debris for removal. External induction lamps contain a mercury amalgam, or metal alloy, while internal induction lamps contain mercury vapor.