Metal Halide Fixtures:Does A Fixture Use Power With The Bulb Removed?

Posted by Jimmy Hovey on Thu, May 10, 2012 @ 10:05 AM

A Metal Halide Can Cost You Even When Hiding In The Shadows....

Kathy Wants To Know.....metal halide fixtures 400 watt metal halide off

We got a question from Kathy in California yesterday.  She recently moved into a new facility after 26 years in the old one. 

They never considered the cost of electricity in when making the decision to move, but the utility got her attention when they reclassified her business to a new, higher electricity rate. 

Even if she had investigated the cost before making the move, the utility had not classified the facility correctly for the previous tenents.  But of course, you get a visit from the utility when you start up your new service....and Ooops, they realized they had not classified it correctly. 

Sorry new business owner!!....In her email, Kathy stated, " I about fell over when we recieved our first electric bill after reclassifying." 

Karen knows that she has (24) 400 watt Metal Halide fixtures.  She also knows that an upgrade to T5 is the way to reduce her energy consumption.  BUT...she won't have the capital budget for 12 months to replace the (24) Metal Halide. 

So she is being creative and looking for some options which prompted her to reach out to us with what she called "a crazy question"....

"Will A Metal Halide Still Burn Electricity If I Remove 12 of the 24 Bulbs?"

Not a crazy question at all…..but unfortunately when a bulb is burned out or even removed from the fixture it is still burning electricity. 

Kathy asked the question because she feels the area is way over lit for their intended use, so the rational behind her thinking makes a lot of sense.

But in this case, removing the bulb will not do her any good.  Here's why...

There Are 2 Parts To A Metal Halide Fixture

Most people don't consider the ballast when thinking of the light fixture.  But there are  really 2 parts to the fixture:

  1. The Ballast
  2. The Socket

While removing the bulb from the socket would eliminate one of the connections within the fixture, the ballast is the more critical one her.  Power supplies the ballast and the ballast supplies the socket. 

By removing the bulb, she would only be removing the loop on the socket side, but not the ballast side.  Therefore, that "electricity sucking" 400 watt metal halide wil still making her meter go around like a whirlwind. That's just the way it works. 

What About Just Loosening The Bulb?

Nope, that doesn't work either.  In this scenario, you would use less electricity, BUT you risk burning up the ballast in a year or so. 

So What Can She Do?

The Obvious.....

She can wait a year and cringe everytime she sees the lights lit up and stress out knowing that the utility bill is about to come...which she may actually have to do. 

Or, Here Are Some Options I Gave Her:

She Could Unplug Every Other Fixture

This can be an easy do-it-yourself project or it may require an electrician.  If her lights just plug in to a receptacle, then it is pretty simple.  If they wire going to the fixture is coming out of a junction box, then it would require a trained electrician to do so.

By unplugging the power, you unplug the electricity flowing to the fixture.

She May Want To Do The Calculations To Determine Payback; It May Be Less Than A Year

Since I knew she was researching T5 technology, I thought maybe she hadn't come across our eBook, so I suggested  if she was doing the calculations for comparing T5 to 400 Watt Metal Halide, that she should download our : A Business Owners Guide To Energy Efficiency Lighting.

We show the top 5 benefits to energy efficient upgrades including how to do the calculations. 

I knew she mentioned it would be 12 months before she had the capital, but I also know with the 400 Watt Metal Halide, they are costing them 2x more than a comparable t5 or t8. 

We are doing projects right now in the Kentucky area that have paybacks of 8 months or less and in some cases, the utilities are giving incentives that pay for 60% of the cost of installation. 

Kathy just needs to make sure she looks at all her options; Annual  Savings, Utility Incentives, and Energy Policy Act of 2005.  She may find the payback to be much sooner. 

Okay, But She Still Doesn't Have The Money?

Even if the payback were less than a year and she still had to wait for the capital, then I would strongly suggest that Kathy investigate leasing programs.  We wrote an article about financing energy efficiency projects called "How To Finance Energy Saving Solutions With No Out-Of-Pocket Cost" about leasing programs for energy efficiciency. 

The most important thing to remember is that most of these leasing programs will finance 100% of the project.  The payment (even with interest) will pay for itself simply from the annual energy savings without layout of capital. 

Kathy May Be Able To Reduce The Cost Of Electricity By Reducing Fixtures

Kathy Should Get A Photometric Layout Of Her Facility Completed

Based on the premise that Kathy thinks her facility is overlit, they should make sure to have a photometric layout completed before they do an upgrade. 

There is a strong chance that because the lumen output is much higher, they may be able to reduce the total number of fixtures based on your required lighting levels.  We did this in a Dealership here in Michigan

Don't Forget....You Can Learn More About Energy Efficiency....

Get your FREE down loadable copy of "A Business Owners Guide To Energy Efficiency".  Learn about all the benefits of energy efficient technology can bring to your business.

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Topics: metal halide fixtures, metal halide efficiency, metal halide power usuage, high bay 400 watt metal halide, metal halide vs fluorescent, 400 watt metal halide