Safety Considerations With Metal Halide Fixtures

By Gordon Watts | Aug 25, 2011

warehouse interior

For our blog post this week, we are featuring a guest article from our commercial insurance agent, Wilson Vickers, who will discuss safety concerns regarding metal halide lighting common in many warehouse facilities.   Make sure to check out the links at the bottom of this article to find other blog articles on this subject, view a video showing before and after views of a metal halide fixture replacement in Atlanta, and learn how you can qualify for energy saving rebates in Georgia.

Risk of Metal Halide Lighting Fixtures Explosion

As an insurance agent, I can speak first hand about this issue.  One of my clients experienced this problem when one lamp exploded and caused well over $500,000 in property losses plus business income losses.

Metal halide lights are generally found in warehouses.  The problem they have is that they deteriorate in strength over their lifetime for various reasons.  As the lamp ages the tube weakens until it eventually fails causing the breakup of the tube.

Since a metal-halide lamp contains gases at a significant high pressure, failure of the arc tube will inevitably cause a violent event.  Fragments of the arc tube are launched, at a high velocity, in all directions, striking the outer bulb of the outer lamp with enough force to cause it to break.  If the fixture has no secondary containment (e.g. a lens, bowl or shield) then the “extremely” hot pieces of debris will fall down onto people and property, likely resulting in serious injury, damage and possibly causing a major building fire.

There are several precautions that can be taken to reduce this risk.  These are some of them and others can be requested from your insurance company’s loss control department or an experienced company like Belco Electric for specific recommendations for your facility.

Some are as follows:

  • Use only well designed lamps from reputable manufacturers and avoid lamps of unknown origin.
  • Inspecting lamps before installing to check for any faults such as cracks in the tube or outer bulb.
  • Replacing lamps before they reach their end of life (i.e. when they have been burning for the number of hours that the manufacturer has stated as the lamps rated life).
  • For continuously operating lamps, allowing a 15 minute shutdown every 7 days of continuous operation.
  • Re-lamp fixtures as a group.  Spot re-lamping is not recommended.
  • As mentioned in paragraph 3, a secondary containment such as a lens, bowl or shield could be used to prevent the hot fragments from causing a problem for people or property.  Belco Electric is experienced in retro-fitting these lamps.

If you have these lights I strongly suggest you have someone review your situation.  These are some of the ways to protect your employees and your business, but there may be other corrections for you to consider.

This information is provided by Wilson Vickers of The Leavitt Group.  The Leavitt Group was founded in 1952 and has over 115 independent agencies located in 14 states.

Wilson Vickers
The Leavitt Group of Atlanta
(770) 734-1501 Direct
(770) 368-9158 FAX

Here are some  links for more information:

Cut Your Lighting Cost In Half With Energy Saving Lighting Retrofit

How to Qualify for Rebates on Commercial Lighting in Georgia

Video showing before and after views of a metal halide fixture replacement with T5HO fluorescents:

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