Terms of the Trade: What Is a Halogen Bulb?

A collection of light bulbs.

Whether you’re looking to simply replace a burnt out bulb or you’re attempting to increase your home’s energy efficiency, it can be confusing to know which light bulbs are best for your needs. Halogen bulbs use halogen gas for a longer life and increased light output compared to a standard incandescent bulb. When a standard incandescent bulb burns, tungsten evaporates from the filament, blackening the glass and reducing the light output and life of the bulb.

In a halogen bulb, the release of halogen stops the tungsten from affecting the glass and actually increases the life of the bulb as it returns to the filament. Enough chemistry for you? Here’s some practical information. Compared to standard bulbs, they’re cheaper to operate, about 20 percent more energy efficient, and last twice as long. However, they cost about 4 times more than a standard bulb, and don’t give off the cozy warm glow that some people enjoy. Halogen bulbs give off a pure white light, making them great for task lighting or for use at night.