Light emitting diode lamps are flavour of the month, and deliver big energy savings, good colour rendering, dimmability and a long life. The best ones are difficult to distinguish from incandescent lamps. But they come with a hefty price tag – of up to £30 a lamp. And many Chinese versions are, well, rubbish.
Ceramic metal halide (CMH) lamps combine high output with great colour rendering and good efficiency. They produce light by passing an electric arc through a mixture of gases. In a metal halide lamp, the compact arc tube contains a high-pressure mixture of argon, mercury, and a variety of metal halides.
Colour rendering is also important. This is the ability of a light source to show surface colours as they should be, usually in comparison to a tungsten or daylight source. Lamps with poor colour rendering will distort some colours.