How to Tell If a Metal Halide Bulb is Bad | Ways to Find Out

Metal halide lamps can belong to your family of high-intensity discharge lamps. However, high-intensity discharge lamps include sodium-vapor and mercury-vapor lamps. Though a metal halide bulb is long-lasting, it can still wear out. So, the issue could be with the bulb when you begin to experience dimming, rapid flickering, color changing, and buzzing. But it also can be for a faulty ballast.

So, if these issues occur with the metal halide, you should have some checking performed on the ballast. However, you must see if there are any burn marks, leaking oil, or swollen cases while checking your ballast. Besides, there are some practical and outstanding steps to tell if a metal halide bulb is bad.

How to Tell If a Metal Halide Bulb is Bad

Metal Halide Bulb Failure | How to Identify?

If your metal halide lamp burns irregularly and does not start, there must be a problem with the bulb or the ballast. I’m here to share with you the most effective steps so that you can conveniently determine whether your halide bulb is good or bad. So, let’s get started.

Step 1. Check Your Lamp

You need to check your lamp. The lamp can become loose in the socket. So, if that is the case, then you must tighten it. But if you figure out your lamp can be defective or blown, you must try a replacement lamp.

Step 2. Ballast Specifications

However, you need to read the ballast specifications on the nameplate, including wattage, voltage, and lamp type. Additionally, it is important to be sure the ballast specifications agree with the characteristics of your bulb.

Step 3. Turn Off the Breaker

Now, it is important to turn off the breaker supply of your lamp and tighten the connections on the ballast with the help of a screwdriver. After that, you need to be sure the wiring agrees with the diagram on the ballast label if your lamp has never been operational. Moreover, check the voltage supply. Some ballast needs 240-volt power supplied by two hot wires carrying 120 volts each. Furthermore, the two hot wires are connected to 2 separate breakers in the panel.

Step 4. Check the Ballast Output

Now, look inside the ballast for a blown a fuse. Then replace the blown a fuse with an intact fuse. You need to check the ballast output with a voltage tester. After that, you need to turn on your lamp and the ends of the tester. Besides, you need to give the tester lead to your lamp electrodes with your bulb in place. 

Furthermore, remove the blub, and you must do the same test again. Here you can get voltage readings in both cases. The voltage reading will agree with the output specified on the label.

Step 5. Turn off All Other Devices

However, turn off or disconnect all other electrical components on the same circuit as your lamp. After that, you must try the lamp again. If the lamp turns on, the circuit is overloaded. 

With these steps, you can quickly check whether you need to replace the metal halide bulb. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Necessary to Change Metal Halide Bulbs Often?

You must replace your metal halide bulbs every eight months on 18 and 6 hours off cycle. Your metal halide bulbs lose 40% of output in a year. However, that means you also lose 40% of the yield per year. Again, the metal halide bulbs go on and off with power outages that shorten the bulb’s life.

Is It Possible to Replace a Metal Halide Bulb with LED?

Yes, why not? You can replace your 400-watt metal halide bulb with a 200-watt LED. However, you also can replace a 100-watt metal halide with 50 watt LED. Moreover, you can have a 50% reduction in annual energy use costs by implementing an LED replacement program.

Replace My Metal Halide Bulb with How Many Lumens?

Since the mean lumens is approximately 24,000 for a 400W metal halide bulb, you require 120W HyLite LED Prizm for your 400W metal halide bulb. A 120W HyLite LED Prizm can produce approximately 13000 lumens.

How Long Does My Metal Halide Bulb Take to Turn On?

Your metal halide bulb requires a period. But it probably takes 1 to 15 minutes to reach 90% of its total light output. Moreover, this period is known as the warm-up time. You can also say the period as run-up time.

Is It Possible to Touch a Metal Halide Bulb with My Hands?

No, you should not touch the metal bulb with your hands because oils and salt from your skin will damage the metal halide bulb. Again, salt and oils from your hand can cause the bulb’s heat to concentrate. So, it can significantly reduce the lifespan of your metal halide bulb. Again, the bulb can shatter if you touch it with your bear hand. For this reason, the bulbs, especially halogen capsule bulbs, will be sealed in plastic inside a box.


A 1000-watt metal halide bulb lasts around 11000 hours. A metal halide bulb lasts so long. But it is necessary to check the bulb regularly. However, if you suffer any trouble, immediately check out the bulb by following the steps I have shared in this article.

Besides, you have to keep the bulbs clean and safe all the time. To clean a metal halide bulb, you need to use isopropyl alcohol. But you must be careful not to touch the bulb after cleaning. Because if you touch the bulb after cleaning, the salts and oils from your bear hand may damage the bulb and cause a hotspot. Moreover, hotspots could lead to worse or failure.

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