Shining a Light on Halogen Lamp Safety

Halogen lamps, also known as tungsten halogen lamps, quartz halogen lamps, or quartz iodine lamps, are a special type of incandescent lamp that has a tungsten filament sealed within a small transparent envelope. The envelope is filled with a halogen gas such as bromine or iodine. Halogen lamp bulbs are long lasting and bright. In fact, Halogen lamps are considered by many to emit a light that is the closest artificial approximation to natural daylight.

The clean and contemporary look of halogen lamps combined with their relatively low price tag makes them a favorite decorating choice among teens and young adults. However, it’s important to realize that halogen lamps can pose a significant fire hazard if used incorrectly. In the United States alone, halogen light bulbs have been linked to more than 100 fires.

The primary danger associated with halogen lamps is the bulb’s high temperature. For example, a 300 watt halogen light bulb can reach temperatures of up to 970 degrees F – generating enough heat to ignite a paper airplane in just 56 seconds. In comparison, a standard 75 watt light bulb only operates at about 260 degrees F.

Although care should be taken when using any type of halogen light bulb or light fixture, halogen torchiere lamps are especially dangerous. First sold in 1983, halogen torchiere lamps are free-standing lamps that feature a light fixture mounted on top of a pole that is roughly six feet tall.

Halogen Lamp Safety Tips

Because the bulb in a halogen lamp burns at a higher temperature than other types of light fixtures, care must be taken to ensure safe operation. If you have a halogen lamp in your home, keep in mind the following safety tips:

• Only use halogen lamps and light fixtures that have been evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

• Read the instructions that came with your halogen lamp carefully before operation, taking note of which type of light bulb is recommended for the lamp. Using the wrong halogen light bulbs in your lamp can cause the glass to shatter.

• Never place curtains, towels, clothing, or other fabric items near the top of a halogen torchiere lamp. For this reason, halogen lamps should not be placed near windows or bunk beds.

• Do not leave halogen lamps of more than 100 watts on when you are not at home.

• If your halogen lamp came equipped with a dimmer switch, operate it at the lowest setting whenever possible.

• If your halogen lamp has missing or damaged components, it is not safe to operate until it has been fixed.

• Make sure your halogen lamp is unplugged and cool to the touch before you attempt to replace the bulb.

• Avoid touching a halogen light bulb with your bare fingers. Even if your hands look clean, the natural oils on your skin can cause "hot spots" on the bulb that may lead to premature bulb failure and an increased fire risk.

• Do not use halogen lamps in areas with small children or pets.

Halogen lamps are inexpensive alternative lighting fixtures but care must be taken whenever they’re utilized.

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