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What are the Different Types of Fiber-Optic Bulbs?

C.L. Rease
C.L. Rease

Gas-filled, quartz halogen and light-emitting diode (LED) are bulb types used to provide a light source for fiber-optic light fixtures. Each type of fiber-optic bulb creates light, but they have different qualities when considering bulb life, heat buildup and intensity. The light bulb sits inside the base of a fiber-optic device, and each type of bulb has different requirements as far as power, amperage and socket required to hold the bulb in the fixture. Since each bulb type varies on its requirements, they are not directly interchangeable. Knowing the specifics of each bulb type helps a consumer decide which device fills the needs for their application.

Project bulbs that are gas-filled create a lot of heat in their short life span. Tungsten wire located inside these fiber-optic bulbs provides light, and since tungsten resists melting, it increases the length of the gas-filled bulb. The intensity of the beam produced by other types of fiber-optic bulbs might outshine gas-filled bulbs, but the lower price of these bulb types makes them a common bulb for lower-priced fiber-optic projectors. Replacing a blown gas-filled bulb requires care to keep the bulb from breaking. When a gas-filled bulb breaks, it releases gas into the area around the light bulb, which can create a dangerous situation for people in the area of the broken bulb.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Quartz halogen fiber-optic light bulbs create an intense beam of light and have a longer life span then gas-filled projector bulbs. The combination of intense light beam and longer life gives a quartz bulb a step up on older projector bulbs, although a quartz bulb still creates an excessive amount of heat. Like a projector bulb, a tungsten inner wire provides the glow supplied by the bulb while extending bulb life. In addition, like gas-filled bulbs, a broken quartz halogen light bulb releases toxic gas into the atmosphere surrounding the light bulb.

LED fiber-optic bulbs create a less powerful beam of light than gas-filled and quartz halogen light bulbs, but they have a longer life span than the previous two bulb types. Beyond having a longer life span, LED fiber-optic bulbs create less heat and use less energy than the other bulb styles. Choosing a fiber-optic projector using LED light bulbs reduces light intensity but does not produce a bright enough light for all fiber optic applications.

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