Infrared Light Bulbs – Is It Heat or Long Life?

Infrared chickens

Infrared light is typically the most discussed form of light within the spectrum. In basic terms, infrared light can be termed as heat; it is the type of radiation where the wavelengths cannot be seen by naked human eyes, but instead it is felt by the body as heat. Infrared light can be seen through use of certain special cameras. This heat is useful in various ways.

The term “infrared” by itself when applied to light-bulbs, can tend to be confusing. In a more basic term, it means “heat,” and at times it can mean “long life.”

When does infrared mean heat?

Typically, over 95 percent of the in-put energy in an incandescent light-bulb normally ends up as heat. The tungsten filament light bulbs (incandescent & halogen) are better space-heaters than sources of visible light

This means that it is rather practical to use these light bulbs in bathrooms, food preparation areas and in animal husbandry. Typically the bulbs will be of “R” & “PAR” type, where their reflectors will help focus the infrared/heat.

One can also use red coatings on the bulbs, although the color does not increase the heat, but only minimizes the amount of visible light. For those specialized applications that require a higher heat out-put, tubular quartz halogen light bulbs are also available in high watts.

Infrared light bulbs emit a large amount of heat; thus, they can be used as a heating source. For example, there are many saunas which are often heated using infrared lights bulbs. The infrared heat lamps are typically incandescent bulbs which produce infrared radiation. These infrared lamps usually have several industrial applications which include curing coatings and preparing plastics for forming. They also have some commercial applications like cooking & browning food, and some personal applications like providing heat (in bathrooms and also for pets).

When does infrared mean “long-life?”

Some halogen MR16 & PAR light bulbs have infrared reflective coatings which prevent heat from escaping through the back of the light bulb. In such cases, infrared means higher efficiency and a longer bulb-life.

Their most common application is in live concerts, where they are used to produce various colors by fitting them with gels or colored sheets. These long life infrared bulbs can also be used for special effects such as lighting from extreme angles or from directly above, ideal if you want impressive effects with a low budget production.

The following two tabs change content below.

Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.