Monday, September 17, 2012

Xenon: The Next Big Thing?

In late July the SJVCEO began looking for a new employee to fill the hole that Mike Nemeth left (because no one could ever really replace Mike), and part of the application process included a blog sample on one of five predetermined topics.  Originally, I thought we would share all of the blogs from the top candidates, but six out of seven submissions addressed "Xenon: the next big thing?".

Given those results I thought we would just share with you the blog by the newest member of team SJVCEO, Dee Cox!  
P.S. David Boldt, this topic was chosen just for you! 


Is xenon lighting destined to replace halogen lighting the way halogen lighting bullied incandescent lighting off the market? Some would say yes.  


The most famous xenon of all?  The beam of the Luxor  is currently powered by 39 Xenon lamps operating at 7 kilowatts each at an hourly operating cost of $53 (lamps, repairs, and electricity costs)
Xenon bulbs have advantages over traditional vacuum lamps--or those filled with argon or krypton--offerings suppressed tungsten evaporation, which results in a cleaner and longer burn with less blackening.  The bulbs also burn with a brighter, whiter light due to the higher filament temperature for improved contrast rations and an attractive, sparkling appearance. In addition to all of this, the lamps last up to three times as long with a continuous light output for typically 30 percent more luminous flux.  Compared to the argon filled lamps, xenon bulbs wall temperature is 30 degrees Celsius lower, which can have significant implications when the devices are in close proximity to materials such as plastics or wood.  

But what is a xenon bulb, and how is it different from the less expensive bulb that people use everyday? 


If you have ever been to a movie theater, chances are you have seen a xenon bulb at work.  Most film projectors use it because of its incredible brightness. The xenon bulb is also becoming the it light on roads.  You may have noticed its bright, blue-ish list as a car passed you on the highway.  Automotive parts stores market this bright headlight to car enthusiasts in search of an after-market part that will give their car a distinctive style.  


Over the past few years the use of xenon light sources has become increasingly popular, especially in the home.  Xenon light bulbs are being used in numerous ways.  The primary reason is that xenon bulbs have an incredible lifespan--anywhere from 8,000-20,000 hours!  It doesn't hurt that xenon light bulbs operate cooler than halogen light bulbs which can become extremely hot.  Not to worry those of you interested in mood lighting, xenon lights are also dim-able, which can help increase the bulb lifespan.  

The uses of xenon lighting are far-reaching and a bit futuristic to absorb in one setting.  A new range of xenon filled wedge based lamps has been designed for use in a variety of applications from the automotive industry and beyond.  Some even say that xenon technology will enable solar to be more affordable. Imagine walking in to your local hardware store and picking up enough solar panels (equipped with xenon technology) to power your home for 40 years, for less than $2,500? I can see customers lining up for that one! 

I can think of many other ways that xenon lighting could be useful. 

Imagine the farmer working at night; the lighting could help with plowing and cultivation  where a close color match between soil and conventional light can make it hard to pick out detail.

How about flash photography--most of our mobile phones already use this type of flash. And strobe lights!  Oh, better yet, how about bacterial lamps!  The list goes on.  


First, lets consider the way the xenon units "strike up": on flipping the switch the internal beam is an unearthly clear blue, which quickly strengthens and brightens.  The true light is white and cold, like the fullest of full moons; and even though your eyes soon adjust to that, the field still seems to be lit by hidden florescent tubes.  And the spread?  Lamp-for-lamp research shows xenon always reaches further than halogens, with a third more distance covered.  Impressive! 

So, here's the kicker...they don't come cheap.  One really must be careful when switching out halogen to xenon. Do your due diligence and price compare not just the initial cost, but the life-cycle cost of the unit: with the performance and longevity of xenon you can decrease the number of bulbs needed to light a space, further contributing to the long-term cost savings. 

In short, the differences between xenon and halogen lamps are "real and they're spectacular!" <---unintentional Seinfeld reference on the first blog--not bad!  

photo credit: ohad* via photo pin c

photo credit: Carbon Arc via photo pin cc

photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photo pin cc

3 comments:

Evan Marcus said...

Nice article. This is so much more than i needed!!! but will all come in use thanks!!
Steering Rack

sonu said...

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Courtney said...

So glad you both liked the post. Please keep reading and sharing your thoughts!