We often mention the energy and money saving benefits that can be had by switching to LED bulbs. LED bulbs last much longer than old fashioned incandescent bulbs, use much less energy and provide a much cleaner light source.
However, as a lighting blog, it would be remiss of us to miss out some landmark light sources like the shortest lived light sources or the oldest.
Before modern flash photography became a common occurrence, there were flash bulbs.
These days you can get a smartphone with a camera flash that’s cheap, reusable and easy, chances are you’ve got one in your pocket reading this. Flash bulbs were introduced in 1927 and became the go to light for flash photography for a few decades. These one use only bulbs consisted of magnesium filaments in a bulb filled with oxygen. The flash they generated was basically a controlled explosion in a light-bulb when a battery would light the magnesium in the bulb.
They weren’t cheap and after use the photographer would have to wait for it to cool down before he could replace it for the next shot.
Moving on from bulbs that last for a fraction of a second, we have The Centennial Light, recognised by The Guinness Book of Records, Ripley Believe it or Not and General Electric as the world’s longest lasting light bulb.
It has been in use for 114 years, currently it’s maintained at a fire station by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department in California. Incandescent bulbs work on the principle of running an electric current through a carbon filament which heats up, generating heat and light. Turning them on and off repeatedly wears out the filament which will eventually cause the filament to break. That this bulb was manufactured to a much higher standard to today’s incandescent bulbs and the fact only been turned off a handful of times over the last 114 years are some of the main reasons of its long life. Most notably it was moved in 1976 in a specially designed box to its current location with a police and fire engine escort. It was believed twisting the bulb out of it’s fixture might damage it so the cable was cut and reattached by an electrician at it’s current location where it’s been on almost constantly for 39 years.