Metal halide vs LED [5 differences]

Before I go into details, let’s discuss what metal halide and LED mean. A metal-halide lamp is a high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp that combines metal and halogen elements to produce light.

On the other hand, an LED (light-emitting diode) happens to be a semiconductor device that allows an electric current to run through it, thereby producing light.

In this article, I will give a thorough comparison and understanding of metal halide vs. LED. Let’s dive into it.

Identifying the dissimilarities: their form

As I dive into the details, knowing the remarkable distinctions between metal halide vs LED can help you choose the one of your choice when purchasing.

Metal halide: the production, how is it made?

The usual method for creating metal halide compounds is “the interaction of a metal with a halogen gas.” Rare earth elements like mercury, sodium, or metal halide gas such as iodine or bromine are commonly used as metals in metal halide lamps.

Metal halide vs LED: a detailed comparison
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Metal halides, which are covered in protective glass, work by passing an electrical charge through a mixture of metal and halogen components, producing a gas that creates visible light.

The two tubes that make up a metal-halide bulb are the external and internal arc tubes. It is somewhat dissimilar from a photovoltaic cell, which is a gadget that produces electricity from visible light.

Their operation is comparable to that of other gas-discharge lamps, including mercury vapor lamps; the only distinction is the type of gas used. Adding metal halide vapor improves the efficiency and purity of the light produced.

Metal halide lights are frequently used for aquarium lighting, horticultural purposes, and commercial and industrial environments.

LED: how is it made?

The method commonly used to create light-emitting diodes or LEDs, is termed epitaxy. To do this, layers of semiconductor materials are deposited onto a base material, like a silicon wafer or sapphire.

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When an electric current is run through a semiconductor device known as an LED (light-emitting diode), light is produced. Typically, silicon, gallium nitride, or gallium arsenide wafers are used in the first steps of this procedure.

The compound that will function as the semiconductor of the p-type and the substances that will function as the n-type semiconductor are subsequently deposited into this wafer.

After the layers have been placed, the wafer is subjected to a procedure known as doping, which includes incorporating impurities into the semiconductor materials to give them the required electrical characteristics. As a result, a p-n junction is formed, which is the foundation for how an LED works. They are frequently found in electronic gadgets like televisions, cell phones, and lighting applications.

Energy efficiency: metal halide vs LED

They are both known for their high energy efficiency, but compared to metal halides, LEDs are more energy efficient. However, metal halide lights use more energy than LED lights, which drives up the price of power.

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Standard metal halide bulbs should last for 10,000 hours at maximum. Approximately 15,000 hours is the stated anticipated life of certain 100-watt metal halide lights.

This implies that, in comparison to incandescent lights, these bulbs can generate an enormous amount of light while consuming comparatively less energy. Metal halides have an omnidirectional pattern, and these omnidirectional lights produce light in 360 degrees.

This is very inefficient because it would require some light redirection to concentrate the light on a single spot. Also, a metal halide lamp produces less than 30 lumens per watt due to losses from its omnidirectional light output.

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On the other hand, the efficiency of LED bulbs ranges from 100 to 200 lumens per watt, with many premium LEDs surpassing this range. This indicates that they have a considerable initial light output with low energy consumption.

Furthermore, adding to their energy efficiency is the extended lifespan of LEDs, which may last for tens of thousands of hours on average. This longevity also means that LEDs need to be replaced less frequently.

How they perform: metal halide vs LED

It’s worth noting that metal halides operate similarly to incandescent lights, which may be a familiar and comfortable choice for some users. However, metal-halide lights usually require more frequent bulb replacements and use more energy.

In contrast to other lighting options, metal halides require more energy to operate and produce significant heat. However, there are ways to mitigate these challenges. For instance, you can opt for energy-efficient metal-halide bulbs or use cooling systems to tackle the heat issue.

LED lighting has a 50,000–100,000-hour lifespan and turns on instantly. One LED fixture can be turned on in one moment; however, a metal halide fixture may take several minutes. LEDs start to darken as they near the final stage of their lifespan.

Furthermore, as LED technology develops, more options become more affordable, and their performance improves.

A crucial consideration when making the transition from metal halide lights to LED lighting is making sure the LED fixtures will work with the current electrical system and will produce the appropriate amount of light for the intended use. Retrofit kits are also available to make the transition from metal halides to LED easier.

Durability and resistance

Below is an explanation of the durability and resistance of metal halide vs LED

Metal halide: durability

When compared with LED lights, metal-halide bulbs have a shorter lifespan, necessitating a greater amount of replacement and upkeep. On occasion, five to six metal-halide bulb substitutes can be obtained from an LED product.

As mentioned earlier, metal halide lights have 10,000–15,000 hours of durability; depending on the particular lamp design, the working environment, and the light’s quality, this lifespan may differ because of this. They also have the potential to emit light over their specified lifespan, albeit with decreased efficacy and luminance.

LED lights: resistance

LED lights have a far longer lifespan, which lowers the need for maintenance and bulb replacements more frequently – more than 50,000 hours. In harsh outdoor settings, LED lights are a better option, as they are highly resistant to stress and vibration, making them a reliable and long-lasting lighting solution.

Apart from their extended lifespan, LEDs offer further durability benefits when compared to a conventional light source. Since they don’t have any moving components and are solid-state lighting fixtures, they tend to be more resilient to shock, vibration, and outside impacts.

They can be used in a range of settings, such as outdoor and industrial ones, thanks to their resilience. In general terms, one of the main selling points of LEDs is their ability to last, which makes them an attractive choice for a variety of uses, including automobiles, industrial, outdoor, and commercial lighting.

Environmental effects

There are a few things to be aware of when considering the impact of a metal halide and LED on an environment.

LED lights: impact on environment

LED lights are an excellent alternative to traditional light bulbs as they are more environmentally conscious. They do not contain any harmful substances like mercury, making them a safer and healthier option for both humans and the environment. This lessens the possibility that inappropriate dumping will contaminate the ecosystem.

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When taking into account aspects like energy usage, carbon emissions, and resource use, the manufacture and use of LEDs typically have a lesser environmental impact than an older light source.

Metal halide: ecosystem impact

Metal halide has both negative and positive impacts on the environment.

Positive effects include

Decreased illumination pollution

When built and constructed correctly, metal halide lamps may produce focused, energy-efficient illumination that reduces light pollution, protects the nighttime environment, and lessens the effect on nocturnal animals.

Energy Effectiveness

Using metal halide lamps can result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less energy consumption as they are more power-efficient than typical incandescent bulbs.

Negative effects

Mercury Distortion

Metal halide lamps with mercury raise concerns about environmental degradation and destruction. These factors result in higher costs for the operation and upkeep of metal halide lighting. To avoid contaminating the environment with mercury, metal-halide lights must be disposed of and recycled properly.

Color change effects

It’s critical to understand how color shift effects affect lighting setups’ functionality and aesthetically pleasing qualities.

Metal halide lights: color shift

As metal halide lights age, they may exhibit color shifting and decreased light production, which over time may result in uneven and subpar lighting. One important advantage is that metal halide lamps generate a very cool white light when weighed against other forms of light.

There can be variations in the degree of brightness caused by flickering, color instability, or irregular intensity of light in old metal halide lights.

LED: worries about blue light

According to some research, long-term exposure to specific blue light types generated by LEDs can harm a person’s health, particularly during a restful night’s sleep.

A small variation in color temperature as time passes may cause certain inferior or badly constructed LED lights to appear warmer or colder than they are. Several factors, including the LED fixture’s general design, temperature control, and chip quality, may have an impact on this change.


Is metal halide brighter than LED?

It is contingent upon the particular models and configurations used. Metal-halide lights generally have a more illuminated starting emission than LED lights. But if you’re in the market for lighting options, you may want to consider LED lights. They are known for being durable and for their energy efficiency, which makes them a better choice than metal halide lighting.

What are the cons of metal halide?

Metal-halide lamps have several drawbacks. For starters, they have a shorter lifespan than LED lighting and are more prone to flickering, which can cause eye strain and headaches. On the other hand, metal halides tend to diminish in luminosity over time, so you may want to think twice before investing in metal halides.

Can I use LED instead of metal halide?

Indeed, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) can be used in place of metal halides. With recent substantial advancements, LED technology is now a competitive alternative to metal halide light. LED lighting has become increasingly popular in homes and businesses because of its less expensive upkeep, prolonged lifespan, and energy economy.

Which is better LED or metal halide light tower?

When choosing between LED and metal-halide light towers, it depends on your specific needs. LED lights are energy-efficient, have a long lifespan, and require less maintenance. Metal halide lights produce very high-quality light but consume more energy and require more frequent bulb replacements.

Final thoughts on metal halide vs LED

Lighting comparison: metal-halide vs. LED: the one that wins is here and clearly. No doubt comes out on top when comparing metal halide vs LED lighting. Contemporary commercial fixtures are generally powered by LEDs since they prove to be an especially reliable option when all the features and advantages are taken into account.

LED technology is the best approach for helping to illuminate your space and boost employee productivity, regardless of the type of commercial lighting you’ve been searching for, whether it’s workspace lighting or warehouse lighting.