5 Different Types of Gases Used in Bulbs – A Guide

The gases used in light bulbs are called inert gases. These gases can be either compounds or elements, and they are called inert gases because they are incredibly resistant to chemical reactions. Owing to their stability, they do not allow the filament to combust in a light bulb.

The usage of these gases is different in every type of bulb.

5 Types of Gases Used in Bulbs

1. Incandescent bulbs

These are low watt bulbs, which either a vacuum or an Argon/Nitrogen mixture. A vacuum is used in bulbs with watts between 10W and 25W, while bulbs with 40W and above use a mix of Argon and Nitrogen. The inner coat of the bulb lead which reacts and absorb any trace of oxidizing or corrosive gasses.

Also Read: How to Remove Light Fixture Cover with Clips

The incandescent bulb is deliberately used to produce heat. Some of its applications include egg incubators, reptile tank lighting, lava lamps, easy bake ovens, and industrial drying processes. These bulbs provide up to 1,000 hours of light and have a short lifespan when compared with other bulbs.

The bulbs are affected by water vapor, which causes blackening of the inner surface of the lamp, the water vapor reacts with the Tungsten filament resulting in a black oxide that settles on the glass causing a reduction in the light emitted.

2. Halogen Bulbs

These are variations of incandescent bulbs, and as the name suggests, these bulbs contain a small amount of Halogen-containing either methyl Bromide or methylene Bromine and Argon. The combination of Halogen and the tungsten filament produces a chemical reaction known as the Halogen cycle.

The reaction redeposits the evaporated tungsten to the filament, thereby increasing its useful life and its clarity.

These bulbs burn at a higher temperature and are inefficient.However, they produce a higher visible light. The small size of the bulbs enables them to be used in compact optical equipment such as projectors and under cabinet lighting.

However, when changing these type of bulb do not use your bare hands, it will cause the bulb to explode due to the creation of a condition where the bulb warms too quickly when turned on.

3. Compact fluorescent bulbs

These bulbs use Argon, and in exceptional cases,Neon is used to create signage. They consume a quarter of the energy used by incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer. Unlike the older version of florescent bulbs, they are quiet and have warmer light tones.

The bulbs cost 3 or 4 times more than incandescent bulbs but in the long run, are far more cost-effective.

These bulbs will flash every few seconds after turning them off.Small currents are passing through the switch to cause this phenomenon. Due to the presence of Mercury in these bulbs,they require safely disposing or recycling when they burnout.

4. LED bulbs

LED means ‘Light Emitting Diodes’ which have filaments use Helium gas, that conducts heat very well, allowing them to stay cool. It also produces more illumination per watt and makes the bulb very cost-efficient. They have a useful life of up to 30,000 hours whereas the florescent bulbs give up to 7,000 hours.

They are available in different types of color but are more expensive than the other types of bulbs. However, these bulbs may not work with dimmers and will flicker when connected to a DC (Direct current) power supply. These flickers may cause headaches or eye strains when exposed to them for long.

Their life span of the bulb also drops when used in high temperature and research suggest LED lights attract 48% more insects when compared to Halogen lamps.

5. Xenon Arc Lamps

These lamps were trendy in the early 20th century before incandescent lamps took over the lighting market. The bulbs were present in equipment where high-intensity light was needed, such as movie projectors and searchlights. High-pressure Xenon gas was used to produce a high-intensity white light which closely resembles natural sunlight.

These lamps could offer up to 500 hours of use, and they operated at a low voltage high current environment. Therefore, because of the high power levels used,large lamps were water-cooled. Today, most movie the atres use xenon arc lamps to run their projectors.

Xenon Arc Lamp Classifications

Most bulbs use gases classified in the chemical periodic table under group O elements, typical examples include, Helium, Argon, Neon, and Krypton.

They are known for producing different colors of light and their low reactivity.  Different gases produce different colors, for example, Hydrogen produces a red color, Helium produces a yellow color, Neon produces an orange color and Mercury gas burns blue.


It is our hope that you’ve found this guide to the different types of gases used in bulbs helpful. Most importantly, we hope that the guide will lead you into making an informed choice going forward.

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