Other Light Sources
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Discharge lamps include metal halide, low-pressure and high-pressure sodium, and high-pressure mercury lighting. You probably haven't heard of these lamps because most are not used in household applications; they have so far been reserved for commercial, public, and industrial uses.
These alternative light sources are designed to be functional, and are rarely used to create atmosphere. They operate similarly to fluorescent bulbs, but differ in that they use different types of gas or metal vapor. They are both long-lasting and efficient sources of light.
Low-pressure sodium lights distort colors and work best as informational lighting, whereas metal halide has excellent color rendering and is good for backyard lighting. Discharge lamps usually have large bulbs that can take several minutes to warm up. They require control gear and must be disposed of carefully due to the toxic material inside.
Fiber optics is a more modern type of lighting in which light is shone down thin strands of coated fiberglass or acrylic. The light emerges only at the end, which means that fiber optic lighting is cool at the point of delivery. Fiber optic lighting can be designed to change colors on cue, and is ideal for places where light is needed without heat, electricity, or radiation. Fiber optic lights are mostly used as decorative accents and for novelty effect.
For some interesting insights concerning the development of mercury vapor lamps and metal halide lamps, visit this Charles Steinmetz's Metal Halide Lamp web page on the Smithsonian Institution's website.
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Vapor Discharge Lighting - Fiber Optic Lighting