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What is the difference between metal halide and HPS light bulbs?

This is an easy question to answer. There are several stark differences between these two lamps although they both come underneath the category of HID lighting which stands for high intensity discharge. To simplify to its most basic characteristic, metal halide is a white source of light and high-pressure sodium is golden amber. Some people will even say that it's yellow, but it has more of an orange color. That's the most dominating difference between the two and it's something that you can tell right away. The construction is also different, with a high-pressure sodium light bulb you will see a very narrow arc tube which looks pencil thin and with a metal halide light bulb it's a quartz glass arc tube that is wider and crimped on the ends. Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is that these lamps are not interchangeable with each other. They operate off different ballasts completely, so you can't switch one out for the other without changing the ballast as well. These are still used today in many light fixtures across the country and even with LED replacing many of them, they are still popular for their low cost and energy efficiency. For both metal halide and high-pressure sodium you have to make sure you have the right ballast, the corresponding wattage of the lamp with the ballast that's made for it. Sometimes people ask me if they can use a higher wattage interchangeably and that's not the case, they're all different electrically. Most light fixtures have been designed over the past 30 years to accommodate one or the other of these in certain types of outdoor lighting. If you want to change from one to another then you have to change out the ballast as I stated earlier, but the fixture would not have to be changed. I'm not sure why anybody would want to do that these days with some of the LED alternatives that might be a better solution. So that's a basic rundown of the difference between a metal halide and high-pressure sodium light bulbs.

Let me know if there's anything else we can help you with.

John Bolduan

Here's a sampling of metal halide and high pressure sodium light bulbs you can buy online:

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