LED vs Halogen – What is the best lighting for your microscope?

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There are many choices when buying a microscope in the 21st century and “lighting” is one of them. In this article, we look at the differences between LED and Halogen lighting to assist you with the best outcome for your application.

LED Lighting

LED (Light Emitting Diode) is the latest technology with many advantages. They consume very little power, the bulbs last for a long time, and they can be paired with a rechargeable battery system making the scope cordless, enabling the users to take the microscope away from an external power source. LEDs made their first appearance on student microscopes, however, they are becoming more and more popular on professional microscopes. The LEDs with only on/off switch are usually too bright, making them inconvenient to use. It is a good idea to make sure your LED microscope has a potentiometer (Dimmer Knob) so you can reduce the light intensity.  Recent technology advances have made these bulbs brighter, much more reliable, and fully dimmable.

Halogen Lighting

Halogen lamps provide a very white, bright, concentrated light, and are preferred on medical and lab instruments. Such scopes are usually fitted with a dimmer, which can as assist in reduction of heat.  Halogen bulbs are extremely sensitive to skin oils, which can cause them to malfunction or burst. They last approximately 3,600 hours but are not as efficient as compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or LED bulbs.

LED vs Halogen

In the below comparisons, we look at Economics, Longevity, Colour, Safety and Comfort. These assessments may assist you with your choice in selecting the appropriate microscope lighting for your application.

Economics

Halogen bulbs are a traditional style bulb. They are usually easy to use and the bulb is simple and low cost to change. An LED bulb is quite small; therefore, they are usually used in groups. They are often built into newer machines and depending on the connection, they can take longer to replace. Although LEDs are normally more expensive than halogen bulbs, they are more energy efficient and usually last substantially longer.

Longevity

LED bulbs have good longevity and are quite reliable. The average life of an LED bulb is around 50,000 hours while a Halogen bulb lasts approximately 3,600 hours. But unlike halogen lights, LEDs die in an unpredictable and often spectacular way. They tend to burn out suddenly and without much warning while halogen bulbs age in a predictable manner. It will be noticed that the bulb starts to throw different colours of light.

Light Colour

A halogen bulb produces white light when it is new and the light starts to become more yellow as it starts to age. LED lights are brilliant white. The suitability of the colour of the light depends on the preference of the user. Many pathologists have learned to view samples using halogen light, and they are used to samples appearing richer in colour. For example, a tissue that is red under halogen light can appear pink under LED light. LED images tend to publish better as they are brighter.

Safety and Comfort

Working with Halogen lamps can lead to quicker eye fatigue, discomfort, and possible long-term damage for users because Halogen lamps produce light waves within the UV spectrum. LED illumination makes for a safer and more comfortable specimen viewing session for the users by producing light waves that are outside the UV spectrum.

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