Building workshops

Mercury lamps, Why was its use banned in Algeria?

On October 16, 2019, the Minister of Housing, Urbanism, and the City “Kamal Beljoud” directed his ministerial education to the executive directors and managers of the bodies under his tutelage to stop the use of mercury lamps when undertaking any new process to complete the housing and public installations.

This instruction is based on a previous publication of the Ministry of Interior and Local Communities and Urban Planning – Ministry of Energy No. 01 of 05 February 2018, related to developing energy efficiency and renewable energies at the local community level.

In this article, we will try to get to know more about mercury lamps, their pros and cons, and what prompted officials to prevent their use, and what is the alternative.?

Mercury lamps

Mercury vapor lamp is a high-intensity discharge lamp, which uses an arc that passes through the evaporated mercury in a high pressure tube to create a very bright light directly from the arc

It differs from a fluorescent lamp that uses the mercury vapor arc to create a weaker light that mainly produces UV light to excite phosphorous.

Mercury irritability has been used in street lighting, factories and large areas for more than 100 years (01).

How does it work:

This lamp has a small arc that connects the starting pole and the main pole. This arc passes through argon gas, which collides easily, even in cold weather. This small arc warms the tube, and over a period of several minutes the tube becomes hot enough to vaporize the solid mercury suspended on both sides. Evaporated mercury creates strong light between the two main poles. (01).


  • Power: 50 – 1000 Watt
  • Optical Efficiency: 11 – 60 Lumen / Watt
  • Color rendering index: 36 – 72%
  • Color temperature: 2900 – 4200 Kelvin
  • Power change: No (02)
  • Life span: 24000Hrs

Common uses

Large spaces such as garden
Street lighting, buildings with high ceiling …
Gyms … etc.


  • It is a good alternative to incandescent lamps in large spaces.
  • Mercury lamps last longer than incandescent lamps and other lamps.
  • Low cost of investment compared to other lamps.


  • Like many lamps that contain traces of mercury, they need to be disposed of properly, so they are not environmentally friendly (01).
  • It takes about five to seven minutes to build mercury vapor pressure and reach full brightness of light. (03).
  • It consumes much more electrical energy than other lamps to achieve a similar amount of light (04).
  • It is characterized by low light efficiency and low color rendering index (05).
  • Poor color, which reflects at night on the skin and looks pale (01), and shows humans as if they were in horror movies.


Mercury lamp manufacturing has been halted in Europe from the date of April 13, 2015, and according to European directives under No. 245/2009, however manufacturers and sellers were allowed to exhaust their stock after this date (06).

Mercury Vapor lamp

So! What is the alternative?

The aforementioned ministerial instruction indicated the procedures that must be taken when fixing lighting in the future, as it says:

For internal lighting:

“The measure to take is to replace the mercury lamps with efficient and economical lamps such as high pressure sodium lamps or high performance LED lamps with a long shelf life.”

For external lighting:

“In parallel with the use of the proposed solar panels in new cities and residential neighborhoods, I instruct you to resort to the use of LED lighting in common parts, outdoor spaces of residential neighborhoods, and public installations.

Together, we will learn later on the reason for preferring LED lamps and high pressure sodium lamps, and on the mechanism of their work, their pros and cons, and whether these alternatives save energy and do not really pose any danger to humans and the environment!

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