Is it True That I Shouldn’t Touch the Lamp? – Learn Stage Lighting .com

Is it True That I Shouldn’t Touch the Lamp?

If you work with churches, in theatre, or production, you’ve probably heard the rumor that you aren’t supposed to touch the halogen lamps that power many theatrical lighting fixtures.  I was recently reminded of the “mystery” and scandal around this subject when I was working with a church on their lighting system, and asked the same question with a perplexed look.

The answer is yes.

Photo by Kevin Dooley on Flickr.

Photo by Kevin Dooley on Flickr.

Thankfully this church’s tech guy was pretty sure of this fact and played it safe, therefore not touching the lamps.

As you may already know, HPL, BTR, BTN, FLK and other lighting lamps all are similar in that they have a tungsten filament and  halogen gas which allows them to glow very bright for a very long time.

If you’ve ever been near an open lamp when it turns on, you know how hot and how bright the lamp gets.  You almost have to shield your eyes!

These lamps have an amazing wattage to surface area ratio. This generates a lot of heat on the glass which must stay formed correctly to keep the halogen gas inside so the filament can shine.  Compare one of these theatrical lamps to a household medium base 60w bulb, and you’ll see what I mean.

The exterior glass on theatrical lamps needs be able to cool as effectively as possible, and therefore needs to be clean of the oils of your hands.  If you’ve ever touched a lamp or had a volunteer do so, you’ll know that when it goes out, you see the glass deformed and blackened significantly.  It died an earlier death than it had to.

 So what if I touched it?

You may think that you have a throw away a lamp if you touched it, but that isn’t the truth either.  To clean the lamp again, simply clean it with an Dynarex 1113 Latex Free Sterile Alcohol Prep Pad (Box of 200) found at your favorite “shack” of electronics or online in bulk.

In fact, some moving light lamps require you to touch them in order to change the lamp, and they are shipped conveniently with an alcohol wipe.

And while you’re inside a light, make sure you don’t touch the reflector as it may be damaged by scratching it.  Happy lighting!


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