Halogen vs. LED – Which Are the Best Surgical Lights?

October 18 2018
Surgical Lights

Would you say quality surgical lights are essential for operating rooms? There is no denying that lighting is one of the most important elements in the surgical rooms. Surgical lights are critical to the overall efficiency of the medical team to successfully complete the operation. Good lighting is significant to the efficiency and safety of the procedures, particularly in minimally invasive, deep cavity and lateral cases.

In the past, halogen lights have been the standard for medical facilities and operating rooms. However, halogen lights host numerous challenges for medical professionals including cost, black-outs, heat dispersion, etc. In the last few years, there has been a significant advancement in the world of lighting. LED lighting resolves most of the halogen challenges and provides medical facilities with better and reliable lights for surgical rooms. Let’s take a look at the essential distinctions between the two different light source used for illuminating medical procedures.

Difference between Halogen and LED Surgical Lights

#1 Colour Variation

To ensure proper diagnosis and treatment, it is essential for a surgeon to have proper visibility.  The most noticeable difference between halogen and LED surgical lights is lighting. Naturally, halogen lights produce hot infrared light which is then filtered out to produce a cooler white light, averaging 4000°K. While on the other hand LED surgical lights produces a significantly cooler & brighter light averaging 4300°K. Here take into account that the daylight is measured at 5100°K.

Thus, as compared to the halogen systems, LED lights have improved colour and clarity.

#2 Temperature

The temperature of the lights also makes a huge difference in the selection. Halogen lights often produce more heat as compared to the LED surgical lights. The Halogen bulbs generate heat to the surrounding area and touching it can result in a burn. Moreover, working in the hot climate can make the surgeons, medical staff and the patient uncomfortable. This can even result into fatigue during long surgical procedures.

While on the other hand, LED systems produce significantly less heat which can be barely felt. This is due to the fact that LEDs is a semiconductor and much less heat is produced in generating the energy that produces light. These surgical lights can be touched without any fear of injury and will not cause a fire, even if it comes into contact with the combustible material.

#3 Backup Light For Emergencies

One of the major problems with halogen surgical lights is that there is no warning of when they are about to die. While on the other hand, LED surgical lights will slowly start losing its effectiveness.  Thus, as long as you are testing and calibrating, you’d see the decline.

In case of a power loss in the operating room (OR), the team still needs to know what is happening. If the light goes OR must have a backup light and should come back with 5 seconds and project at 40,000 LUX, minimum.

#4 Shadow Reduction

Shadow dilution is an ability of a surgical light to lessen the effect of obstruction. This characteristic is a little harder to measure and is gauged in a percentage. Due to design, halogen lights have a higher chance of creating hot and cold spots in the light field. Whereas, with LED light the spot remains consistent and round.

There are two types of shadows:

  • Contoured Shadows – These shadows are good. It helps the surgeon to differentiate between vasculature and fine tissue striations.


  • Contrast Shadows – These are not good shadows. They result from obstructions such as instruments or hands. In such a case, you need to look for surgical lights that have high shadow dilution.

#5 Cost

LED lights are more expensive than halogens but are more energy efficient. For instance, two LED surgical lights consume half the electricity of its halogen counterpart. This saves the medical facility thousands of bucks when compared to standard OR lights currently available.

#6 Going Green

Another important benefit of LED surgical lights is that it is considered as a Green Technology. LED lights reduce power consumption and keep bulbs out of landfills. This helps in preserving the environment.

The above-mentioned features are leading most of the medical facilities across the globe to opt for LEDs in various situations. However, there are several other elements which influence the decision. Let’s take a look:

  • Reliability – The halogen lights are normally rated for 1000 to 3000 hours, whereas LEDs are rated for 25,000 to 40,000 hours.


  • Efficiency – As compared to halogen lights, LED surgical lights require significantly less power to operate.


  • Energy UsageLEDs uses less power than a halogen to generate the same or higher quality of illumination.


  • Design Flexibility – LED surgical lights can easily be configured as per the different requirements. This makes them extremely versatile and flexible for various mounting configurations.

Final Analysis

Finally, the decision as to which is the better option depends on the understating of the above-mentioned differences, the needs of the medical facilities and how they impact specific clinical applications.

However, if you are still unsure if LED surgical lights are worth the additional investment, have a service provider bring in an LED on a mobile stand. A side-by-side comparison between a good halogen surgical light and LED surgical light will be no contest.Also, have a look at our blog post on everything about the medical examination lights.

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