High-Intensity Discharge Lighting

high-intensity discharge lighting

High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps provide the highest efficacy and longest service life of any lighting type. They can save 75%–90% of lighting energy when they replace incandescent lamps.

In an HID lamp, electricity arcs between two electrodes, creating an intensely bright light. Mercury, sodium, or metal halide gases act as the conductor.

HID lamps use an electric arc to produce intense light. Like fluorescent lamps, they require ballasts. Because the ballast needs time to establish the electric arc, they take up to ten minutes to produce light when first turned on .

Because of the intense light they produce at a high efficacy, HID lamps are commonly used for outdoor lighting and in large indoor arenas. Since the lamps take awhile to establish, they are most suitable for applications where they stay on for hours at a time. They are not suitable for use with motion detectors.

Types of High-Intensity Discharge Lamps

These are the three most common types of HID lamps:

  • Mercury vapor lamps
  • Metal halide lamps
  • High-pressure sodium lamps.

Use the chart below to compare these types of lamps and assist you in understanding basic lighting principles and terms before making comparisons.

High-Intensity Discharge Lighting Type

Efficacy
(lumens/watt)

Lifetime
(hours)

Color Rendition Index
(CRI)

Color Temperature
(K)

Indoors/Outdoors

Mercury vapor

25–60

16,000–24,000

50 (poor to fair)

3200–7000 (warm to cold)

Outdoors

Metal halide

70–115

5000–20,000

70 (fair)

3700 (cold)

Indoors/outdoors

High-pressure sodium

50–140

16,000–24,000

25 (poor)

2100 (warm)

Outdoors