Safety for Halogen Light Bulbs

Updated April 17, 2017

Halogen light bulbs contain a tungsten filament sealed in a small transparent glass bulb with a halogen gas. Halogen lamps emit a light that closely resembles natural daylight. This, combined with their brightness, long life, clean look and low price, makes halogen light bulbs attractive for decorating. They are used in ceiling and wall fixtures and in floor lamps. However, halogen bulbs can pose a fire or other hazard if not used properly.

Fire Safety

Halogen light bulbs operate at much higher temperatures than normal incandescent bulbs--for example, 521 degrees Celsius vs. 127 degrees C. This means they can ignite a piece of paper in about a minute, and therefore, must be kept away from all combustible materials to be used safely. Never expose a halogen light to impact or water as the bulb can shatter and the debris can cause a fire if it falls on something combustible.

Floor Lamp Safety

Torchiere lamps are freestanding floor lamps with a halogen light fixture mounted on top of a pole about 6 feet tall. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) receives many reports of incidents involving torchiere lamps, most are fire-related. The most common cause of a fire is unintended contact between the lamp and flammable materials. Keep a torchiere lamp away from curtains, bedding materials, wood wall panelling, and other combustible materials such as toys and towels. The CPSC will provide a free wire guard for torchiere lamps to consumers who call (800) 523-5702, extension 592.

Unattended Operation

Do not leave halogen lights or lamps on when you leave home. Also do not use halogen lights in areas unattended by adults, or with small children or pets.

Reduced Power Operation

If you have a dimmer switch on the light, set the power to the lowest setting possible.

Purchase and Use

Purchase only halogen lights that carry a testing laboratory seal such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Read and follow the directions and warnings accompanying the specific product to ensure its safe use and to avoid personal injury and/or property damage. Use only the bulbs recommended for the lamp or fixture.

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About the Author

Walt Sampson has written technical manuals and corporate proposals since 1970. He has written for "The Denver Post" and "The Arizona Republic." Energy-conservation awards led to writing for professional magazines. Sampson has engineering degrees from the Naval Academy and the University of Michigan, and a Master of Christian Studies from Regent College.