Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Artificial lighting has become standard in the homes and companies of most countries. It is used for concert effects, growing food, and reading a book in bed at night.

6,628 Questions
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Who invented the light bulb?

The first electric light was made in 1800 by Humphry Davy, an English scientist. He experimented with electricity and invented an electric battery. When he connected wires to his battery and a piece of carbon, the carbon glowed, producing light.

Much later, in 1860, the English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) was determined to devise a practical, long-lasting electric light. He found that a carbon paper filament worked well, but burned up quickly. In 1878, he demonstrated his new electric lamps in Newcastle, England.

In 1877, the American Charles Francis Brush manufactured some carbon arcs to light a public square in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. These arcs were used on a few streets, in a few large office buildings, and even some stores. Electric lights were only used by a few people.

The inventor Thomas Alva Edison (in the USA) experimented with thousands of different filaments to find just the right materials to glow well and be long-lasting. In 1879, Edison discovered that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed but did not burn up for 40 hours. Edison eventually produced a bulb that could glow for over 1500 hours.

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) improved the bulb by inventing a carbon filament (patented in 1881); Latimer was a member of Edison's research team, which was called "Edison's Pioneers." In 1882, Latimer developed and patented a method of manufacturing his carbon filaments.

In 1903, Willis R. Whitney invented a treatment for the filament so that it wouldn't darken the inside of the bulb as it glowed.

In 1910, William David Coolidge (1873-1975) invented a tungsten filament which lasted even longer than the older filaments. The incandescent bulb revolutionized the world.

Edison was actually the inventor of the electric lighting system, complete with generators, distribution power lines, usage meters, and light bulbs. No previous light bulb inventor had put all those parts together needed to make a practicalbusiness using them.

Nikola Tesla and the innovator Thomas Edison worked together. Edison was credited with the invention, but it was actually partner Tesla who invented the first successful light bulb, and Edison developed it into the present one.

There is enough proof to say that the Egyptians came up with and used the light bulb.

People say that Edison invented the lightbulb...but they are wrong. It is Scottish inventor James Bowman Lindsay who made it in 1835 but didn't patent it.
You might think it was Thomas Edison, but it wasn't!

The first light bulb was made by an English scientist called Humphry Davy.

Then, the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla perfected the light bulb.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

How does a light bulb work?

An incandescent light bulb takes just enough electric current to make a piece of metal glow brightly enough to give out visible light yet not get so hot that it melts and breaks. The piece of metal is called a tungsten filament.

Experiments were made with different materials to use as the filament, including natural fibres, pure metals and alloys of different metals, to find the material which had the longest life whilst glowing brightly enough to give out visible light. The metal Tungsten was found to be the best.

Also experiments were made trying a vacuum or different kinds of gas inside the glass bulb to find out which was the best. For many years Nitrogen gas was found to be the best but other gases or mixtures of gases may now be used. Fluorescent light bulbs electrically charge a gas (sometimes one of the inert gases like argon).

Whilst it is normal everyday talk to say that a light bulb or a lamp is "burning", that is not strictly accurate because, speaking strictly scientifically, the word "burning" has a very precise meaning. When something is said to be "burning" it means the material is combining with the element Oxygen to form a compound called an Oxide.

For example when Carbon is burnt it makes either Carbon Monoxide or Carbon Dioxide or a mixture of those two gases. How much of each is made depends on the actual conditions in which the Carbon is being burnt. That is why it is scientifically correct to say that a light bulb is "glowing" and not that it is "burning".

Modern light bulbs don't hold a vacuum. Instead they are filled with an inert (electrically nonconducting) gas such as Nitrogen. An inert gas is used to fill the bulb (instead of just pumping out almost all the air to leave a near vacuum) because the action of filling the bulb with an inert gas can be used to flush away ALL of the air. In addition the inert gas has the very useful physical property of helping to conduct heat from the glowing filament to the glass bulb. This allows the whole surface area of the glass bulb to radiate heat into the surrounding air.

It is important to understand that the inert gas does not allow the filament to "burn away", it just allows it to glow brightly. If some air were still present in the bulb - as sometimes happens if a light bulb gets knocked and gets even a tiny crack in its glass bulb - then the oxygen present in ordinary air will quickly make the filament burn away.

If the light bulb just held a vacuum (as was the case in the early days of electric lighting) the main way the heat from the hot glowing filament could get out was along the wires feeding current to the filament and also along the insulators which support the filament. (Relatively little heat passes through a vacuum compared with what can pass through an inert gas.) So the feed wires and insulators got very much hotter compared to the temperature they reach in modern light bulbs. This caused the old vacuum light bulbs, which glowed at a much higher temperature than radio tubes, to have a much shorter useful life compared to vacuum radio tubes.

An earlier answer was given saying the filament has to be made from a material that has a negative temperature coefficient (as temperature increases, resistance decreases) but, if that were correct, then the decreasing resistance would cause more and more current to be taken as the lamp heated up - and the temperature would get higher and higher in a runaway manner - until either the power supply's breaker would trip or (more likely) the light bulb's filament would simply explode!

In fact the filament has to be made from a material that has a positive temperature coefficient. (As temperature increases, resistance increases.) Then, as the bulb's temperature rises, its filament's increasing resistance causes less current to be taken than when it was cold. Quite quickly a stable "steady-state" temperature and "running" resistance is reached so that the bulb simply continues to give out a steady amount of light according to the current it is taking from the electricity supply.

A thread of metal, usually tungsten, is used as an electrical filament to convert electricity into light in incandescent light bulbs (as developed in 1878 by Joseph Wilson Swan, among others), and into heat in vacuum tube devices.

The first successful light bulb filaments were made of carbon (made from oxidized bamboo), later replaced with tungsten.

An electrical current travels through the filament and because of the electrical resistance of the filament makes it white-hot and generates light and heat. It is normally in a vacuum or a noble gas or inert gas inside a glass enclosure to stop oxidation. Small amounts of a halogen can be added to facilitate transport of evaporated tungsten atoms back to the filament, resulting in significantly prolonged lifetime when used at higher temperatures, which is exploited in halogen lamps. Electrical filaments are used in hot cathodes of various types of vacuum tubes and electron guns as sources of electrons.

You get light illumination from an incandescent lamp because current flowing through the filament, which has nonzero resistance, causes a voltage drop across the filament. That combination of voltage and current represents power. Power heats the filament to the point of incandescence, creating light. The bulb is evacuated of air, or filled with an inert gas, so that the filament does not burn up from the combination of heat and oxygen.

Other lights, such as fluorescent tubes and bulbs, contain argon gas and mercury vapor instead of a filament. When the electricity flows through the gas UV (ultraviolet) radiation is emitted. The UV radiation hits phosphors coated on the inside of the bulb, which then emit visible light.

A very technical explanation

A standard incandescent lamp will light up because when we energize it by turning it on, electric current flows through the filament in the lamp and heats it so hot that it reaches incandescence. That means that the atoms of the filament are being ionized by the heat. The outermost electrons, the valence electrons in the atoms of the filament, are absorbing energy and jumping out to higher energy levels, and then falling back with the emission of a photon - light. All those atoms are being ionized and all those electrons are jumping to higher energy levels and then falling back by emitting a photon. That's what incandescence is. And the lamp filament is being heated to white hot, to incandescence, by the electricity. That's why they light up.

Incandescent light bulbs work by heating a thin strand of tungsten to high temperatures, causing it to glow brightly. Tungsten has the highest melting point of any element and therefore is perfectly suited for this purpose.

In a lightbulb at the very tip is a thin wire made of a material called tungsten when electricity passes through it, it heats up and glows white hot, however if it is in contact with oxygen it will blow, therefore the glass is around it to keep nitrogen inside the bulb and keep oxygen out.
When electricity passes through a filament (the curly bit of wire in a light bulb) it takes more effort to go through because it's so thin, so it glows.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Can you use 12 volt dc light bulbs in place of 12 volt ac light bulbs?

Yes, as long as it has a filament for producing light for example a Tungsten Halogen Lamp, normal Incandescent or GLS lamp. If the lamp is rated at 12v it will run on either 12vac or 12vdc.

Electronics Engineering
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

What is the minimum voltage necessary to operate a light emitting diode?

That will vary with the type (i.e. "color") of the LED: IR LEDs operate at the lowest voltage (1.2V), red LEDs operate at low voltages (1.8V), green LEDs operate at medium voltages (2.5V), blue LEDs operate at high voltages (3.3V), and UV LEDs operate at the highest voltages (4V). Intermediate color LEDs operate at correspondingly intermediate voltage between those given above. The reason an LED cannot produce light below these voltages is it takes more voltage drop to get the energy to produce higher energy photons and the different types of binary semiconductors needed to produce each color/energy of photon result in different junction forward bias voltages.

However LEDs are really current operated devices, not voltage operated devices, so they need a series resistor or a current source to limit the current through them. Simply applying a voltage source with the necessary "minimum operating voltage" across an LED will generally destroy it instead of lighting it.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Do light bulbs give off heat?

yes they do

Home Electricity
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Is 480 lumens good for flood light?

No. 480 lumens is about the output of a 40 watt light bulb, and that will not make a very good flood light.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Is a bulb a conductor or insulator?

Electric bulb is basically an insulating device. By calling it an insulating device it does not mean that it completely disallows the flow of electricity! It means that the device or object resists the flow of electricity to some extent. It has a coil of a metal called Tungsten which resists the flow of electricity. Due to this resistance the coil heats up immensely and glows hot. However, this coil of Tungsten does allow some electricity to pass through so that the circuit of electrical flow remains closed/complete and the electric bulb remains lighted.

Interior Design
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Why can you see both light bulb and lamp base?

Your lampshade may not the right size for the lamp. A good lamp store can help you select a lamp shade that suits the lamp. Another consideration is the height of the table in reference to the seat next to it.

Home Electricity
Thomas Edison
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

What are light bulb filaments made of?

Incandescent light bulbs have filaments which are made mainly from the element tungsten and/or alloys which include tungsten.


Tungsten is the metal element used for the filaments in incandescent light bulbs.

Experiments were made with different materials to use as the filament, including natural fibres, pure metals and alloys of different metals, to find the material which had the longest life whilst glowing brightly enough to give out visible light. The metal Tungsten was found to be the best, because of its high melting point (almost 3700 K) and good resistance to electrical current.

For more information see the answer to the Related Question shown below.
Carbonized cotton was originally tried, and had moderate success. However, the material that finally worked the best was a filament made of tungsten, which shone brighter and lasted much longer.
It is made up of Tungsten which have an melting point of 3380 degree Celsius.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Why would light bulbs go out after one month of use?

This could be because so many of the light bulbs are now so cheaply made they can't hold up to regular use. If this is a regular occurrence then you may have an electrical supply problem. In the United States the power coming into your home varies over time, but should be close to 120 volts. If it is too high or you are getting power spikes the only thing you may notice is burned-out light bulbs, but you may actually be shortening the life of some of your most expensive household appliances. Refrigerator and Air Conditioning compressors may burn out prematurely if the voltage is too high. Voltage fluctuations can also be caused by an improper ground on the circuit or coming into your house. Usually your power utility company will check your system out at no charge. Sometimes there may be a problem with the transformer on the line into your house. If there are no other problems, try using heavy duty light bulbs rated for 130 volts instead of the regular 115/120 volts. They have a heavier element that can take rough handling and power fluctuations better. You may have to get them at an electrical supply house. This is common problem in older homes. Keep in mind that the current in a circuit is the same throughout the circuit. Therefore if there is resistance in the wiring, that resistance increases the current through the bulb. <-- this is wrong The first answer above makes sense, the last sentence of the second answer does not. Reason is that the statement "Therefore if there is resistance in the wiring, that resistance increases the current through the bulb" is totally wrong. For any given mains supply voltage, any extra resistance put into a circuit will decrease the current in that circuit, which of course includes the bulb. If there is an extra-long wiring distance then you should use cable that is thicker than normal. That will keep the circuit resistance as low as possible. If you use too thin a cable for a long circuit run its resistance will be higher than it would be if a thicker cable were used. The thinner cable will "steal" more voltage from the light bulb (or whatever other device the cable is supplying) than a thicker cable will. This has at least 2 bad results: too thin a cable will get much hotter than it should (a possible fire risk) and the lamp will not burn brightly enough. In that case you might be tempted to try an even stronger wattage lamp, which will draw even more current through the thin cable, increasing the voltage dropped in the cable even more... (An even worse fire risk!) Another idea is: Use more Compact Fluorescent Lamps! See the related question: "What savings can a compact fluorescent lamp give?"

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

How many light bulbs are in a series circuit?

as much as you want

but remember if one stops working they will all stop working

History of Ireland
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Is there an Irish superstition about going to switch a light on and the bulb blows three times in a row on the same night?

I must admit that I have never heard this one before. Most rural parts of Ireland did not have Electricity up until the 1950's and as the majority of Irish superstitions are older than that I would speculate that there is no such superstition in Ireland. Anyway I would be very surprised if anyone would be so silly as to keep replacing the bulb under such conditions. Let me know where you heard this and I will research a bit more for you Yes to part one. Your question is a good one... During the rural electification scheme which only finished in the 1970's, old people in the countryside used to say a prayer before switching on an electric bulb. I suggest that you read anything writen by the folklorist Kevin Danaher who was professor of Folklore at University College Dublin.I haven't heard about the light bulb blowing out three times but to be honest it wouldn't surprise me if there was such a superstition. Just so you know that I can address this topic with some authority: I grew up in Ireland and hold a Master's degree in History and Local Studies from the University of Limerick.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

What element is found in spiral light bulbs?

In any fluorescent tubes that are minute amounts of the element mercury.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

What element is found in cheaper light bulbs?

Tungsten is an element often found in cheaper light bulbs.

Thomas Edison
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

When did Thomas Edison invent the light bulb?

Humphrey Davy invented the light bulb in 1809, but it was not practical.

It is a matter of documented record that Swan obtained a UK patent covering a partial vacuum, carbon filament incandescent lamp in 1860.

Thomas Alva Edison patented his invention in December, 1879, almost 20 years later, the same year that Swan's bulbs were in domestic use in Britain.
Edison did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light. He therefore just improved on other peoples work in 1879.

Thomas Edison's greatest challenge was the development of a practical incandescent, electric light. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't "invent" the lightbulb, but rather he improved upon a 50-year-old idea. In 1879, using lower current electricity, a small carbonized filament, and an improved vacuum inside the globe, he was able to produce a reliable, long-lasting source of light. So he said. Tesla worked for Thomas Alva Edison for 1 year At that time, the most important "inventor" in the world was named Thomas Alva Edison-the so-called wizard of Menlo Park.... Edison was credited with the invention of the DC dynamo and the electric light bulb . . . but the only thing he really invented was the ELECTRIC CHAIR!!
Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb in the year 1879

Many other people had developed working light bulbs of various kinds before Edison.

A British inventor by the name of Joseph Swan received a patent for an identical bulb 1 year earlier than Edison.

Nikola Tesla actually had working light bulbs in his laboratory before Edison did, too. These bulbs were fluorescent, not incandescent. These are early versions of the compact fluorescent bulbs that we know today.

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Will normal light bulbs work th grow marijuana?

No. You can also just put them hidden outside, if you don't have any specialised quipement.

Simple Machines (engineering)
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

What type of simple machine is a light bulb?


Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Diadvantages of energy saving light bulbs?

they are not as bright at first , but they increase brightness over time but they are alot cheaper than normal globes i don't seem to notice any more they're fine!


Home Electricity
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Where can you buy an mr16 CFL compact fluorescent bulb?

You can buy an MR16 compact fluorescent bulb with bi-pin base in either 35 or 50 watt (claimed) equivalent at Home Depot.

Feit Electric is the manufacturer and the bulb I bought to experiment with fell short of the claimed rating- there's no way that this 50 watt equivalent was even close to much more than a 20 watt. It was disappointing. I tried 3 of them in my bathroom to replace 3 50W halogens and it was pitifully dim... [Edit: Svartalf] I'm not at all surprised. Many of the vendors play fast and loose with the "effective" ratings. Some get closer than others, but in the end, they all fall short. Most of the "35 watt equivalent" LED and CFL answers are closer to 20 watt halogens from the bottom end of "close". I don't buy the bulk of the claims of 40 watt equivalents in the LED space. Some of them get in the ballpark, but pretty much none of the non-custom answers in the MR-16 space are honestly in the league of what they've been claimed to be. [Edit: smatda]

Stay away. I purchased 3 of these from Home Depot. Two failed within 30 minutes. I took them back and exchanged them. One of the two new ones failed as well. And one of the original bulbs failed after a month. So out of 5 bulbs, 2 have actually lasted beyond 30 minutes, and only one has lasted over a month. None have lasted over two months with very light usage (maybe 15 hours a week???) I took a hacksaw and did an "autopsy" of one of the showed a massive transistor and capacitor failure (components were destroyed on the printed circuit board).

Electrical Engineering
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Why do lights in a parallel circuit burn brighter than in a series circuit?

In a parallel circuit, more power is provided to the lights. Power = V2/R . The resultant resistance of the circuit is lower, and the potential difference is not divided as in a circuit in series. Thus, lights in parallel burn brighter.

Additional InformationA lamp's power rating only applies at its rated voltage. Because the voltage across each branch of a parallel circuit is the same, each lamp can be supplied with its rated voltage and, therefore, will operate its rated power. In a series circuit, the voltage appearing across each lamp will be considerably lower and, so, the lamps will not operate at their rated powers.
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

How do you replace tail light bulbs on a 3000GT?

When you take off the square plastic covers, the only bulb that you can access is for the backup lights. In order to get to the tail light, and turn signal bulbs you have to remove the assembly. Just unscrew the 4 nuts from behind the trim and very carefully pop out the assembly. If it is difficult to remove, you may have to loosen the screws that hold the spoiler. The 2057 bulb is the replacement. Hope this helps.

Answeri am assuming that you are asking about the 3000gt brake lights. well here it is for 91-99 all models 3000gt`s replacing the brake lights is very easy with the back hatch open stand against the rear bumper of the vehicle and look down in the trunk area,on the interior plastic covers/trim there are 4 little bolts that you turn by hand(they are made of plastic)remove the square plastic covers from the trim and look inside(behind the trim)and you should see/feel two light build harnesses there is 2 per side on the 3000 gt twist them and pull the bulbs out they should be cheap and easily found in any parts store

I will add this for the Dodge Stealth: Same as above to get behind the trim ... but you can not access the bulb sockets on the Stealth ... you must find the 2 10mm nuts that hold the tail light assembly on and remove them. Pull the assembly away from the rear of the car and then you can access the bulb sockets. The stop light bulb is a 2057 as indicated above.

Thomas Edison
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

What was the purpose of Thomas Edison inventing light bulbs?

so you can walk around the house at night and be able to see in stead of smacking your head all the time

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

Where were the first light bulbs used?

One place that was delighted to have the electric light was businesses -- now people could work late without worrying about the dangers of candle-power. Candles were tipped over and caused fires, in other words. Theaters also began using electric light bulbs -- perhaps the first was the Bijou Theatre in Boston, which electrified in December of 1882. Cities began installing electric lights in their streets.

Headlights Tail and Brake Lights
Dashboard Lights and Gauges
Nissan 240SX
Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

How do you replace the light bulb in your dash that tells the speed?

remove the gage cluster the bulb is on the back of the cluster

Light Bulbs and Artificial Lighting

What are the names of people who make light bulbs?

1850 Joseph W. Swan began on a light bulb using carbonized paper filaments

1860 Swan obtained a UK patent covering a partial vacuum filament incandescent lamp

1877 Edward Weston forms Weston Dynamo Machine Company, in Newark, New Jersey.

1878 Thomas Edison founded the Edison Electric Light Company

1878 Hiram Maxim founded the United States Electric Company

1878 205,144 William Sawyer and Albon Man 6/18 for Improvements in Electric Lamps

1878 Swan receives a UK patent for an improved incandescent lamp in a vacuum tube

1879 Swan began installing in homes and landmarks in England.

1880 Thomas Edison for Electric Lamp and Manufacturing Process

1880 Hiram Maxim for Process of Manufacturing Conductors

1880 Weston Dynamo Machine Company renamed Weston Electric Company

1880 Elihu Thomson and Edwin Houston American Electric Company

1880 Charles F. Brush forms the Brush Electric Company

1881 Joseph W. Swan founded the Swan Electric Light Company

1881 Hiram Maxim Lamp assigned to U.S. Electric Lighting Company

1881 Thomas Edison for Manufacture of Carbons for Incandescent Lamps

1881 Joseph Nichols and Lewis Latimer for Electric Lamp

1881 Thomas Edison or Bamboo Carbons Filament for Incandescent Lamps

1882 Lewis Latimer for Process of Manufacturing Carbons assigned to U.S. E. L. Co.

1882 Edison's UK operation merged with Swan the Edison & Swan United Co. or "Edi-swan"

1882 Joesph Swan sold his United States patent rights to the Brush Electric Company

1883 American Electric Company renamed Thomson-Houston Electric Company

1884 Sawyer & Man Electric Co formed by Albon Man a year after William Edward Sawyer death

1886 George Westinghouse formed the Westinghouse Electric Company

1886 The National Carbon Co. was founded by the then Brush Electric Co. executive W. H. Lawrence

1888 United States Electric was purchased by Westinghouse Electric Company

1886 Sawyer & Man Electric Co. was purchased by Thomson-Houston Electric Company

1889 Brush Electric Company merged into the Thomson-Houston Electric Company

1889 Edison Electric Light Company consolidated and renamed Edison General Electric Company.

1890 Edison, Thomson-Houston, and Westinghouse, the "Big 3" of the American

1892 Edison Electric Light Co. and Thomson-Houston Electric Co. created General Electric Co.

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