Help with Halogens
February 19, 2008 4:00 PM   Subscribe

How do I avoid setting my kitchen on fire with halogen lights?

I need new lights in my kitchen and dining room. The obvious choice are halogen pendants, like these.

Of course I can't do anything the obvious way, and I want to use the same pendants covers with halogen in the kitchen and incandescent or CFL in the dining room, but (after bad torchiere experiences in college) I'm a little intimidated by the heat generated by those little halogens.

If I replace the existing clear plastic "can" that surrounds the bulb with something similar, what materials should I avoid? If I use frosted glass, is there a risk that the glass would crack in the heat? Would a regular paper/laminate lamp shade, like these melt or catch on fire?

And ultimately, is there a better way to provide good strong not unnatural lighting to a kitchen at the same or less cost and energy expenditure? LEDs? Xenon? CFL floods? Full-spectrum something?

I'm sure there's a creative answer somewhere and I'm like Alexander the Great standing in the light.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
I'll just answer the last part of your question: my understanding is that CFLs are the most efficient light sources out there. The New York Times recently had an article comparing the attractiveness of the light from a number of CFLs.
posted by pombe at 4:06 PM on February 19, 2008

Heh, I did notice that the one at the top of the list was much less efficient ... but I didn't read it carefully enough to see that it was a halogen.
posted by pombe at 4:39 PM on February 19, 2008

CFLs are the most efficient light sources out there

Per lumen, I'm fairly certain metal-halides are more efficient, but then your kitchen will resemble a parking lot, which probably isn't the look you're going for.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:14 PM on February 19, 2008

Best answer: Any substance made for use in a light fixture should be fine, even plastic if it's open at both ends.

Those little halogens get hot, but because the actual bulb is contained in an outer shell (the reflector), it isn't as surface-of-the-sun hot as those 500W torch lights.

Do note though that those little halogen reflectors are a fairly harsh light to use in a work environment. And also make sure that the bulb or fixture that you use has UV protection on it. Bare halogen puts out enough UV to fade things.

And yes, sodium vapor lights are really high efficiency.

And it looks like from that link that a really good incandescent is going to be nearly as efficient as a crappy CFL. Interesting.

(CFL tout- I just picked up some Sylvania Daylight bulbs, and their color is really quite nice. I might even go as far as saying that it's preferable to a cheap incandescent.)
posted by gjc at 8:10 PM on February 19, 2008

Best answer: If you want broad, soft lighting then CFL is the way to go. If you want tightly focussed light that brilliantly illuminates the thing you point it at, with hard-edged and dramatic shadows, but doesn't throw much light off to the sides then the little halogen reflectors are much better.

Which light source is more "efficient" is largely a matter of how that efficiency is measured; CFLs excel at making lots of lumens per watt, but by nature that light is difficult to concentrate into a high-candlepower beam. Xenon is slightly more efficient, and the bulbs last longer and are engineered to operate at lower temps than halogen. LEDs, while they promise to improve dramatically, haven't really "arrived" yet, in practical terms. "Full spectrum" is basically marketing term, often employed misleadingly.

If you do use halogens, I would be very conservative when playing around with alternative materials. Contrary to gjc's assertion these little bulbs do get very hot, though not as hot as a 500w bulb. Paper or plastic could easily be hazardous.
posted by jon1270 at 4:03 AM on February 20, 2008

« Older Create a simple database website (and gather the...   |   AskMechanics, please help me diagnose this car... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.