What are the advantages and disadvantages of xenon lamps?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of xenon lamps?

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What is a xenon lamp?

The xenon lamp is also part of the category of gas discharge lamps. In this case, the peculiarity is that the light-emitting gas is maintained in a small volume (a few cm3) and at a very high pressure (about 30 atmospheres).

This feature allows xenon lamps to be able to emits a very intense light from a very small area (the length of the electric arc does not exceed a few millimeters).

Why does the xenon lamp use xenon and not any other cheaper gas?

Because xenon is one of the few gases that remains transparent enough at high pressures.

Xenon is a colorless, odorless, heavy noble gas. It is element 54 with the symbol Xe and an atomic weight of 131.293. One liter of xenon gas weighs more than 5,8 grams. It is 4,5 times denser than air. It has a melting point of 161,40 degrees Kelvin (-111,75 degrees Celsius, -169,15 degrees Fahrenheit) and a boiling point of 165,051 degrees Kelvin (-108,099 degrees Celsius, -162,578 degrees Fahrenheit). Like nitrogen, it is possible to observe the solid, liquid and gaseous phases of the element at normal pressure.

Where does the name xenon come from?

The name xenon comes from the Greek words "xenon", which means "foreign" and "xenos", which means "strange" or "foreign". Ramsay proposed the name of the element, describing the xenon as "foreign" in a sample of liquefied air. The sample contained the known element argon. The xenon was isolated using fractionation and verified as a new element in its spectral signature.

The advantages of xenon lamps

  • high efficiency: 30-50 lumens / watt;
  • long service life 8000-12000 hours;
  • the color of the emitted light is very close to the color of natural light;
  • Unlike incandescent and halogen bulbs, xenon lamps do not tend to break down faster when you turn them on and off many times in a short time;
  • the surface from which the light is emitted is very small, almost punctiform. This fact allows to obtain strong and small lamps;
  • withstands mechanical shocks very well (they do not contain any filament that can break).

Disadvantages of xenon lamps

  • high price;
  • requires a special electronic assembly which is also quite expensive.

Where is it recommended to use xenon lamps?

Xenon lamps are especially used where needed good quality light (white), emitted from a point source.

Examples of applications: microscopes, cinema projectors, car headlights, etc. With the advantages and disadvantages in mind, it is not cost effective to light your home with xenon lamps. Regarding car headlights, if your pocket allows, xenon lamps are a very good choice.



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  1. Resist mechanical shocks? It's enough if you take it out of the cold in the heat too quickly and it already explodes if it doesn't heat up evenly.
    In the older cinemas (in the new ones I don't know) the bulbs were changed with thick leather gloves and a mask, as they often exploded only when removed from the polystyrene box.

  2. Among the disadvantages are: complicated cooling system, complicated ignition system (2000 V pulses are required to light the lamp). Complicated power system because it works with direct current.

  3. Even today they are used in photography, in flashes due to the spectral composition of light, which resembles daylight, when there are no clouds. Prefer color photography.

  4. Advantage: concentrated light at a fairly good efficiency, approx. 7% compared to 2% for tungsten. Concentrated light source is necessary to focus the light in the parabolic mirror.

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