Halogen lights and bulbs are types of the incandescent light technology. These lights and bulbs function by letting electricity pass through a filament or thin wire of tungsten enclosed by a tube of glass filled with halogen gas. The halogen gas serves as the catalyst for chemical reaction. The reaction causes the tungsten to be removed from the glass wall and deposited back to the filament. This is the cause of the bulbs’ long life. Though an offshoot of the incandescent technology, the filaments in halogen lights and bulbs must have higher temperature than those used in incandescent lights for the reaction to happen. This results in a brighter and whiter light.
However, the brighter light of halogen lights and bulbs causes the tungsten to evaporate faster, hence, the need for an expensive gas to stagger the evaporation. The gas of choice used is krypton gas. Together with a high pressure, these two effectively stagger and lower the evaporation rate of tungsten in halogen lights. This process also requires a thicker and smaller bulb which translates into higher temperature. A temperature of 300 degrees Celsius is not uncommon for halogen bulbs. This is the reason why halogen lights got the reputation of being fire hazards. But there is no need to worry about fires due to these lights if they are used and installed properly.
First, be careful to avoid touching halogen glass bulbs with bare fingers. Not only it is hot, but the natural oils or sebum from our hands can damage the bulb by weakening the glass. This may cause the glass to explode if and when the tungsten burns out. Second, install them in low traffic areas. This way, the risk of brushing or coming into contact with people is greatly reduced. Third, keep halogen lights and bulbs from objects that are flammable and prone to scorching. Halogens can used in closets or rooms if you are sure that they will have at least 18 inches clearance from clothes and objects that are easily burned. If you must use them in cramped and closed areas, like glass-topped shelves, minimize heat caused by the bulbs by replacing higher watt bulbs with lower-watt bulbs. Drilling air holes or vents in the cabinet can help in reducing and preventing trapped heat.
To recap, halogen lights and bulbs can be used for your advantage because of their efficiency and longer life. They are usually compact and can be dimmed. Though they are also disadvantaged to use for being fire hazards. The danger of causing fire with halogens are largely dependent on our use of it and maintenance.