Operation and Construction

High pressure sodium lamps produce light by passing electricity through vaporized sodium and mercury within an arc tube. The HP sodium lamp is totally different from the metal halide in its physical, electrical, and color spectrum 'characteristics.1 An electronic starter works with the magnetic component of the ballast to supply a short, high-voltage pulse. This electrical pulse

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Metal Halide bulb showing reaction.

Dase Up (BU) and Base Down (BD) metal halide lamps must be vertical to operate properly. Horizontal (II) lamps must orient the arc tube horizontally to bum brightest.

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Metal Halide bulb showing reaction.

Dase Up (BU) and Base Down (BD) metal halide lamps must be vertical to operate properly. Horizontal (II) lamps must orient the arc tube horizontally to bum brightest.

vaporizes the xenon gas and initiates the starting process that takes three to four minutes. Electricity passes, or arcs, between the two main electrodes. If the lamp is turned off, or power surge occurs and the lamp goes out, the gases in the tube will usually need to cool three to lifteen minutes before restarting is possible.

Similar to the metal halide, the HP sodium has a two-bulb construction, with an outer protective bulb and inner arc tube. The outer bulb, or jacket, protects the arc tube from damage and contains a vacuum, reducing heat loss from the arc tube. The sodium, mercury, and xenon gas are contained within the arc tube and have a constant operating temperature. The lamp may be operated in any position (360 degrees), However, most prefer to hang the lamp overhead in a horizontal operating position.

Life and Lumen Maintenance

High pressure sodium lamps have the longest life and best lumen maintenance of all HID's. Eventually, the sodium bleeds out through the arc tube. Over a long period of daily use, the sodium to mercury ratio changes, causing the voltage in the arc to rise. Finally, the arc tube's operating voltage will rise higher than the ballast is able to sustain. At this point, the lamp will start, warm-up to full intensity, and go out. This sequence is then repealed over and over, signaling the end of the lamp's life. The life of a 1000-watt HP sodium lamp will be about 24,000 hours, or five years, operating at 12 hours per day. Replace HPS bulbs after 18 to 24 months to keep the garden bright.

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