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An Intro to Induction

by Eric Cole 6 June, 2011 05:41

Lately, a great deal of the discussion around improving general lighting has been focused on LED. This focus is certainly not unwarranted, but it may have come at the expense of a few alternative options that may be better suited for certain applications. One of those options is induction lighting. If you’re lighting a commercial or industrial space and looking for a “set it and forget it” way to save energy, induction is definitely worth considering.

How Induction Works-

Functionally, induction works in a very similar manner to a typical fluorescent bulb. The primary difference is that induction sources do not use electrodes to ignite the lamp. Instead, fluorescent induction bulbs have a large electromagnet, which is usually wrapped around one segment of the bulb. This serves as an induction coil. There is also a pellet of amalgam (composed of solid mercury) inside of the bulb. The induction coil produces a strong magnetic field which travels through the glass and excites the mercury atoms in the amalgam. The mercury atoms emit UV light, which is converted to visible light by the phosphor coating inside of the tube.

Advantages and Benefits-

First, induction boasts an incredibly long rated life. In many cases, induction sources last up to 100,000 hours. This is possible because unlike most lighting types, induction sources do not rely on an electrode or filament. In most sources of lighting, the electrode is the weakest link and the one that usually causes bulb failure, so bypassing the need for one allows induction to stand on the strength of much more robust components like the ballast. This makes induction a particularly attractive option for hard-to-access fixtures like tall light poles or high bays.

There’s also a considerable energy savings over HID sources. Generally, the reduction in energy is about 50%, and there is no loss in light output.

In addition, induction has a very low rate of lumen depreciation. Lumen depreciation is the measurement of the reduction in light output as a bulb is used over time. A high pressure sodium bulb will lose about 20% of its initial light output by end of life. A metal halide lamp can lose up to 50% of its original output. Even LED bulbs lose about 30% by the time they are ready to be replaced. In contrast, the average percentage of lumen depreciation for induction is just 12%, meaning that after almost 100,000 hours of use, an induction source will still be producing almost 90% of the light as the day it was put into service.

Some other advantages of using induction: Induction provides a boost in CRI compared to most HID bulb, and puts out a whiter, brighter light in general. It is also instant on and instant off, eliminating the warm-up and restrike delays that are found with many HID sources.

Things to Consider-

The biggest reason that people tend to reconsider induction is the high initial cost, which is considerable. Switching to induction has a cost of $300-$1000 per fixture, depending on the wattage of the HID being replaced. In most cases, this initial expense is more than made up for over the life of the induction replacement, but it’s always recommended to use our Energy Savings Calculator to figure out in real numbers if the switch makes sense for you. Another consideration is that most induction sources come as an entire fixture, and so switching requires a full fixture replacement rather than just screwing in a new bulb.


If you are looking for an energy-saving, no-hassle, low-maintenance, long-life solution for lighting large indoor and outdoor spaces, induction is a technology worth looking into. Despite the high initial cost, there’s a lot to like about induction if you’re planning to remain in your facility for the long haul.



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