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Halogen lighting

Hello Orchidians, I have recently bought out my partner at the
gallery we have owned together for the last 5 years. During that
time the partner was supposedly running the business while I was
dealing with the jewelry. Now my staff and I are having to change
just about everything. One of the issues that has come up has been
the lighting. We have quite high ceilings and tracks are mounted up
there with halogen lights. The lights give off an awful lot of heat
and here in Northern California most of us don’t have air
conditioning because we don’t have that many hot days. A client
passing through the store the other day said there were some other
lights we could use that would be cooler and also cheaper to use but
he didn’t say what and I’m wondering if any of you have experience
with this stuff and can point me in the right direction.

Janet–in beautiful Mill Valley where, in spite of what George says,
it’s hotter than it used to be.

I don’t know if they would be appropriate in a gallery setting, but
there are compact flourescent bulbs that go into the same outlets as
a regular incandescent bulb. The bulb gives the same intensity of
light (say a 75 or 100 watt) for about a third less energy usage.

Besides being more energy efficient, they are also cooler.

Deb Weller


I have been on a ten year quest to find a suitable lighting method
that doesn’t give off too much heat.

I started with the large halogen par lamps. Great light, wonderfull
for the cold months since you won’t be using the heater. They look a
lot like the lights at KFC over the chicken… lol They do give off a
warm yellowish light that makes your gems sparkle.

Next I went to a similar looking bulb which had a flourecent tube
inside. Went from 90 watts down to 15 or so. Tremendous difference in
the heat, but no life to the jewelry.

So I added the metal halide lights you see selling for $350-400
each. I put one or two over each case and left the low wattage par
shaped lams next to these. This was better. The trouble is that the
high intensite light was limited to about 2 feet of showcase. I found
myself moving customers to the “better light”.

I then removed the weak par flourecent lamps, and installed halogen
MR16 lights. This seems to be the best solution, warm yellowish
light, but the bulbs themselves are a lot smaller than the huge par
lams so there is a lot less heat. They fixtures for these come in a
million varieties, so you’ll probably have to go with a long fixture
to bring the light closer to the cases. The bulbs also come in spot
or flood varieties. They spot works great for lighting over cases,
and the flood in the general areas.

Good luck
Stanley Bright

I recently installed under cabinet lighting in my kitchen remodel. I
used xenon (zenon?) bulbs as I felt that they would be kinder to the
cabinetry in that they generate much less heat. The light they emit
is quite nice.

Hope this helps,
Andy Cooperman


We switched to 12v MR-16 halogen lamps several years ago, and

noticed a significant drop in the ambient temperature of the gallery.
We have 16’ ceilings, so we had to suspend the tracks on cables at
8’. We also positioned them over the front edge of the case, so they
focus back towards the jewelry, not down. There are many types of
lamps on the market, and we tried several. We settled on a
closed-back unit, with the lamp positioned to one side of the
transformer. The lamps with open backs gave off a lot of "stray"
light but did help keep some of the heat from burning the lamp. These
lamps are hot. Since they are on for over 70 hours per week, we
noticed that the plastic around the transformers deteriorated
quickly on the fixtures that were mounted directly below the
transformer. You can also get fixtures that have one transformer for
all the lamps on a track, which will give you a cleaner look.

Two years ago, we switched to a more specialized lamp made by

Solux. These are 10 degree narrow spots, 3500 degrees Kelvin. The
narrow spots give me a circle of light that is about 10" in diameter
at approximately 4" above the cases… The more focused beam required
fewer lamps to give the same amount of illumination, and added drama
to the lighting. Like a museum show spotlights the work and not the
room. The 3500 degree K lamps also really bring out the color in gem
stones and are truer in color to natural sunlight. We use a lot of
subtle colors of gold in our work, and this really makes the colors
more visible.

Add a couple of "regular" MR-16 bulbs to illuminate wall areas, and

some “designer” desk lamps for folks who want to inspect things

These lamps are more expensive, of course, and the lamps and

fixtures do burn out regularly. We keep extras on hand. Part of the
high cost of selling. For those on Orchid who do not have a retail
location, I can attest to the fact that these lamps will add a lot of
sparkle to your booth display and are very compact and easy to
transport/set up/etc.


Douglas Zaruba
33 N. Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701
301 695-1107

Halogen lights are a specialized kind of incandescent designed be
used when precise focus is required. They are high intensity lights
and use enormous amounts of energy, hence the heating effect you
don’t need. I suggest you try out the compact fluorescents and if you
like the effect, use them. Your electricity bills will drop, and you
won’t need to replace the lamps for ages.

The American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) discusses
halogen lamps at:

Hope the fluorescents work for you. (And you’ll be doing your bit
to stop global warming.) Dian Deevey

PS The ACEEE site warns against cheap torchieres, the kind of floor
lamp that directs light up to the ceiling. They use enormously
expensive halogen lights that can cost $18 per year just to operate
a few hours a day. That is more than some of the lamps cost at
Target. The heat load is significant, too. There is a new highly
efficient replacement for the halogen torchiere bulbs, but I don’t
know where to get them, or how much they cost. ddv