One of the world’s largest manufacturers of LED chips, ams Osram, is hailing the near-term future of a supposedly bygone lighting technology: halogen lamps.
Citing superiority over LEDs in recycling and in color rendering, the Premstaetten, Austria–based company said halogen — a filament-type lamp technology which regulators have banned in various countries and business sectors — should remain the light source of choice for the foreseeable future in the entertainment industry.
Ams Osram is much better known as a maker of sensor chips and optical semiconductors such as LEDs, and lasers, but it still makes halogen lamps.
In a posting titled “Shining a light on the future,” the company today pronounced that halogen lamps still have a solid place especially in theatrical productions. Although LEDs — with their improved energy efficiency and other advantages — have made substantial inroads in entertainment, halogens win hands down at creating onstage look and feel, the Austrian manufacturer said.
“Halogen lamps are the dominant technology used in entertainment lighting and have long been admired for their distinctive qualities, such as exceptional colour rendering, a warm aesthetic, and precise dimming capabilities,” ams Osram noted. “Halogen lamps continue to shine. Productions that aim to capture authentic colour reproduction and evoke emotional depth often find halogen lamps to be an ideal choice. Their ability to create a unique visual experience, especially in artistic and theatrical settings, ensures their continued relevance.”
The statement reads a little bit like an effort to salvage sales of remaining halogens and to make the most of existing halogen production facilities before it’s too late, because the company acknowledges that ultimately LEDs will prevail.
“As we know, LED technology offers several benefits, such as a long lifespan, energy efficiency, improved environmental performance, but also gives designers more freedom for their new designs,” ams Osram said. “These and a few more advantages give us a clear sign that the future belongs to LED technology.”
In their prime, halogens represented a small advance in energy efficiency over other types of tungsten filament incandescent bulbs which were not treated with a halogen gas. They were also rated to last two to three times longer.
But LED lamps trounce halogens in both energy efficiency and longevity, making them a popular ecofriendly choice.
Still, halogens outperform LEDs in one important environmental area, in that they are much easier to recycle, ams Osram noted.
“While LED fixtures are known for their superior energy efficiency, it is worth noting that halogen fixtures can potentially offer a longer lifespan due to the replaceability of the halogen lamps, making them a viable choice for certain applications,” the company stated. “LED fixtures are composed of multiple components, including circuit boards, power supplies, fans, and LEDs, which are typically housed in a single unit. When an LED unit fails or becomes obsolete, the entire fixture often needs to be replaced, resulting in more waste. On the other hand, if a halogen bulb fails, it can be easily and inexpensively replaced without the need to discard the entire fixture.”
Perhaps because of those recycling difficulties, a movement to recondition — or “remanufacture” — LED luminaires is taking hold.
The entertainment lighting business suffered badly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ams Osram recently sold an entertainment lighting company, Clay Paky, which offers LED- and laser-based products as well as metal halide lights, similar in nature to halogen.
Ams Osram noted that halogens still play an important role in other fields exempt from incandescent and halogen regulatory bans.
“Tungsten halogen lamps used in the entertainment, airfield, medical, and other industrial industries are exempt from these regulatory acts, and due to their distinctive value, will remain desired light sources in the professional market for years to come,” the company said. “Ams Osram stands out as a deep expert provider of these lighting solutions, continuing to make hundreds of thousands of lamps each year.”
MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).