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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Fiber-Optic Light?

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  • Written By: Henry Gaudet
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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Fiber-optic light has a lot to offer. It is a versatile and energy-efficient alternative to traditional lighting, and it does not emit heat or ultraviolet light. These lights do not come cheap though, and price is often the greatest barrier for people who are considering fiber-optic light.

Glass fibers that are the width of a human hair are at the heart of fiber-optic technology. Light from a single source is carried through thousands of these fibers, which can be bundled and directed as desired. Museums, business outlets and even holiday decorations take advantage of fiber-optic light systems.

One advantage of fiber-optic light is its energy efficiency. Fiber-optic lighting systems work from a single light source. This light uses less energy than standard lighting and can feed a network of fiber-optic bundles to power an entire lighting system.

Versatility is another big advantage. Fiber-optic light can be set up to meet specific and changing needs. Flexible cables can be moved to shift focus to a different area. Shifting colors and dimming, twinkling and chasing lights are easy to set up with fiber-optics, producing elaborate light shows.

Museums use fiber-optic light to protect valuable works of art. Ultraviolet light emitted by traditional lighting can damage paintings. Fiber-optic light does not extend into the ultraviolet spectrum, allowing paintings to be fully lit without fear of damage or fading.

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As a cold source of light, fiber-optics work well in situations where temperature is important. Grocery stores can light their cold merchandise without producing heat, saving on refrigeration costs. Fiber-optic lights can be safely handled as well with no fear of burning.

Only the light source of a fiber-optic system requires power, and that source does not even have to share the room with the light system. This is a huge advantage over traditional lighting when considering areas where water is used. Bathrooms, kitchens, swimming pools and outdoor areas can be lit with no risk of water reaching vulnerable wiring.

Price is the primary obstacle in installing fiber-optic lights. Hardware costs are high, requiring the purchase of an illuminator, connecting fiber-optic cable and individual lighting units for the entire system. Installation costs must also be considered, and depending on the system, they can be quite high as well.

The other big disadvantage to fiber-optic lighting is its “all or nothing” design. When the illuminator’s bulb goes, the entire system goes. These bulbs are inexpensive, however, and are not difficult to replace.

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