Xenon Versus Halogen Cabinet Lighting

Comparing the cost, performance, and availability of halogen and xenon lights for cabinets and display casesJanuary 9, 2008

When building display cases for commercial use, do you use halogen or xenon lighting inside the cases? These are open front with no glass. Halogens are a bit less expensive, but the lighting supplier is pushing xenon, and can't make a good argument as to why.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor J:
I don't have experience with the specific fixtures you might be contemplating, but I can offer some general thoughts.

1) Xenon is more efficient than halogen - not dramatically so, but there is a difference.

2) Xenon produces a cooler or whiter color of light, which may or may not be a good thing.

3) Xenon bulbs are not damaged by skin oils (as halogens are) and don't explode when they fail (as halogens can), so they don't need to be shielded by a heavier glass lens. Since the glass enclosure on halogen fixtures can retain a lot of heat, those fixtures can get very hot - hot enough to burn someone or even scorch the wood surface where they're attached. An open xenon fixture dissipates its heat more efficiently, and is less likely to cause this sort of problem.

4. Xenon bulbs last something like four times as long.

From contributor T:
I just looked into this for a job we are working on and can confirm everything contributor J said. Xenon lights are supposed to burn cooler and last much longer. On puck lights, they seem to run about $4 more per puck. Go with the xenon if your customer will pay, halogen if not.

From contributor U:
I don't always trust the life that manufacturers claim their bulbs to last, so I buy halogen because their replacements will be easy for clients to find without my help.

From contributor C:
We use all xenon lighting for cabinetry and buy two replacement bulbs for each light. We recently added some cabs to a job we did 5 years ago and the original bulbs we still in.

From contributor W:
Have you seen the LED pucks and square lights from Hardware Concepts? Very slick and the bulbs never wear out and are cool to the touch. They are more expensive (not sure how much). They also carry the halogen and xenon lights for a good price.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the responses. LED - I offered it to them and really tired to upsell. But at $150 per case vs. $50 a case, they chose halogen. They also liked the fact that Lowe's carries replacement bulbs and they are across the street. I don't think they were real interested in xenon at an additional $20 per case over halogen, and then to have to go to a specialty store for bulbs. But I didn't really try to sell xenon over halogen either. Next time, I'll give customers a clearer option.

From contributor W:
The LED may be more money, but the bulbs last 50000 hours and will never need to be changed. Another way to sell it is that it is low power consumption = green product.

From contributor J:
For now, I think that "green product" is the only way to sell LEDs. The color resolution is still pretty poor, and they're still too expensive to ever be likely to pay for themselves. Fluorescents are cheaper, and more efficient too. LEDs might be the wave of the future, but the future isn't here yet.