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Incandescent lamps (Including Halogen) - For CCTV purposes, bulb life is limited and they are very inefficient. They are generally expensive to run (typically 500 watts) and expensive to maintain (up to 3 bulb changes per year). End users are increasingly moving away from using halogen based lighting products in favour of longer life LEDs.

Incandescent bulbs were the first bulbs developed and are highly inefficient, wasting 90% of input energy as heat. Their heat output is such that they are extremely hot to touch and can heat surrounding objects in close proximity.

Halogen bulbs provide a minimal increase in efficiency and still waste as much as 85% of input energy as heat. Bringing the bulb into contact with cold surfaces such as residue from fingerprints, particularly sodium, may cause bulb failure.

Fluorescent lamps - use for CCTV purposes is limited due to the perceived “beating” effect when used with a CCTV camera. They are generally low power and designed mainly for internal fitting. As they have a large diffused source the light output is difficult to focus and control.

Fluorescent bulbs are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, operating at approximately 40% efficiency. Only 60% of the input energy is wasted as heat so fluorescent lamps run much cooler than incandescent lamps and can provide equivalent power from much lower electrical input. However, fluorescent lamps produce a flicker imperceptible to the human eye but visible to cameras as a “beat” effect making fluorescent illumination unsuitable for video surveillance. Fluorescent lamps also contain the hazardous material mercury.

HID lamps - could be used in CCTV. They are efficient, provide good colour rendition and are long life – up to 12,000 hours. However, they suffer from a slow start (2-3mins) and cannot be turned on immediately after being turned off.

High intensity discharge lamps are 60-80% efficient and compared to incandescent and fluorescent lamps provide much more light from a smaller package. HID forms include low pressure sodium (unsuitable for CCTV due to its yellow tinge), high pressure sodium (which is more acceptable but produces worse colour rendition than Metal Halide) and Metal Halide. Metal Halide HID bulbs provide a very natural, cool clear White-Light with excellent colour discrimination.

LED’s - are the fastest growing lighting solution for CCTV applications. They are extremely efficient and offer unbeatable reliability. LEDs offer the lowest possible running costs (less than 100 watts for highest power units) with the longest operating life (up to 10 years).

Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) are semiconductors that naturally emit a narrow band of light. LED’s are comparatively expensive to purchase but provide extremely long life up to 100,000 hours. In comparison fluorescent bulbs typically last 10,000 hours and incandescent bulbs 1,000. LED efficiency is typically 80-90% with the greatest efficiency coming from LED’s producing red light. Advantages of LED’s include extremely low electrical consumption, low operating temperatures and continuity of colour through the operating life of the LED. Unlike traditional bulbs LED’s are also highly durable, insensitive to vibration and their hard casing makes them difficult to break.

Latest developments

Through hole LEDs are expensive to mount to PCBs and generally are not as robust as Surface Mount Technology. Surface Mount Technology (SMT) LED’s offer better thermal management and allow the LED’s to be “driven” harder without compromising performance.

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