Asked in InventionsTurn Signals and Hazard LightsHome ElectricityPhysicsElectrostatics
Can you light a light bulb with static electricity?
January 27, 2011 1:53AM
Incandescent light bulbs need high current at low voltage.
"Static" electricity is low or zero current at extremely high voltage. So no, you can't use it to light up an incandescent bulb. If you had some way to step the current up and step down the voltage, then maybe you could do it.
However, if you rub a fluorescent tube with newspaper or with cloth, the tube will flash. Fluorescent tubes need high voltage to work. Perform this trick in a darkened room so you don't miss the dim light. (This trick needs a dry environment. So do it in an airconditioned room. During humid weather it may not work!)
Also, you can use "static" or high-voltage electricity to light up a small neon pilot bulb. Some hardware or electronic stores sell these lights. Look for tiny "NE-2" or "NE-83" bulbs. If you hold one wire of the neon bulb, then scuff your shoes on the carpet, then touch the other wire against a large metal object, the bulb will give an orange flash. Instead of creating a spark, you created an orange glow in neon gas.