An electric light, lamp, or light bulb is an electrical component that produces light. It is the most common form of artificial lighting. Lamps usually have a base made of ceramic, metal, glass, or plastic, which secures the lamp in the socket of a light fixture, which is often called a "lamp" as well. The electrical connection to the socket may be made with a screw-thread base, two metal pins, two metal caps or a bayonet cap.
The three main categories of electric lights are incandescent lamps, which produce light by a filament heated white-hot by electric current, gas-discharge lamps, which produce light by means of an electric arc through a gas, such as fluorescent lamps, and LED lamps, which produce light by a flow of electrons across a band gap in a semiconductor.
Before electric lighting became common in the early 20th century, people used candles, gas lights, oil lamps, and fires. Vasily Vladimirovich Petrov developed the first persistent electric arc in 1802, and English chemist Humphry Davy gave a practical demonstration of an arc light in 1806. By the 1870s, Davy's arc lamp had been successfully commercialized, and was used to light many public spaces. Efforts by Joseph Swan and Thomas Edisonled to commercial incandescent light bulbs becoming widely available in the 1880s, and by the early twentieth century these had completely replaced arc lamps.
The energy efficiency of electric lighting has increased radically since the first demonstration of arc lamps and the incandescent light bulb of the 19th century. Modern electric light sources come in a profusion of types and sizes adapted to many applications. Most modern electric lighting is powered by centrally generated electric power, but lighting may also be powered by mobile or standby electric generators or battery systems. Battery-powered light is often reserved for when and where stationary lights fail, often in the form of flashlights or electric lanterns, as well as in vehicles.
In its modern form, the incandescent light bulb consists of a coiled filament of tungsten sealed in a globular glass chamber, either a vacuum or full of an inert gas such as argon. When an electric current is connected, the tungsten is heated to 2,000 to 3,300 K (1,730 to 3,030 C; 3,140 to 5,480 F) and glows, emitting light that approximates a continuous spectrum.
Incandescent bulbs are highly inefficient, in that just 2-5% of the energy consumed is emitted as visible, usable light. The remaining 95% is lost as heat. In warmer climates, the emitted heat must then be removed, putting additional pressure on ventilation or air conditioning systems. In colder weather, the heat byproduct has some value, and has been successfully harnessed for warming in devices such as heat lamps. Incandescent bulbs are nonetheless being phased out in favor of technologies like CFLs and LED bulbs in many countries due to their low energy efficiency. The European Commission estimated in 2012 that a complete ban on incandescent bulbs would contribute 5 to 10 billion euros to the economy and save 15 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Halogen lamps are usually much smaller than standard incandescent lamps, because for successful operation a bulb temperature over 200 C is generally necessary. For this reason, most have a bulb of fused silica (quartz) or aluminosilicate glass. This is often sealed inside an additional layer of glass. The outer glass is a safety precaution, to reduce ultraviolet emission and to contain hot glass shards should the inner envelope explode during operation. Oily residue from fingerprints may cause a hot quartz envelope to shatter due to excessive heat buildup at the contamination site. The risk of burns or fire is also greater with bare bulbs, leading to their prohibition in some places, unless enclosed by the luminaire.
The solid-state light-emitting diode (LED) has been popular as an indicator light in consumer electronics and professional audio gear since the 1970s. In the 2000s, efficacy and output have risen to the point where LEDs are now being used in lighting applications such as car headlights and brake lights, in flashlights and bicycle lights, as well as in decorative applications, such as holiday lighting. Indicator LEDs are known for their extremely long life, up to 100,000 hours, but lighting LEDs are operated much less conservatively, and consequently have shorter lives. LED technology is useful for lighting designers, because of its low power consumption, low heat generation, instantaneous on/off control, and in the case of single color LEDs, continuity of color throughout the life of the diode and relatively low cost of manufacture. LED lifetime depends strongly on the temperature of the diode. Operating an LED lamp in conditions that increase the internal temperature can greatly shorten the lamp's life.
Carbon arc lamps consist of two carbon rod electrodes in open air, supplied by a current-limiting ballast. The electric arc is struck by touching the rod tips then separating them. The ensuing arc produces a white-hot plasma between the rod tips. These lamps have higher efficacy than filament lamps, but the carbon rods are short-lived and require constant adjustment in use, as the intense heat of the arc erodes them. The lamps produce significant ultraviolet output, they require ventilation when used indoors, and due to their intensity they need protection from direct sight.
Invented by Humphry Davy around 1805, the carbon arc was the first practical electric light. It was used commercially beginning in the 1870s for large building and street lighting until it was superseded in the early 20th century by the incandescent light. Carbon arc lamps operate at high power and produce high intensity white light. They also are a point source of light. They remained in use in limited applications that required these properties, such as movie projectors, stage lighting, and searchlights, until after World War II.
A discharge lamp has a glass or silica envelope containing two metal electrodes separated by a gas. Gases used include, neon, argon, xenon, sodium, metal halide, and mercury. The core operating principle is much the same as the carbon arc lamp, but the term "arc lamp" normally refers to carbon arc lamps, with more modern types of gas discharge lamp normally called discharge lamps. With some discharge lamps, very high voltage is used to strike the arc. This requires an electrical circuit called an igniter, which is part of the electrical ballast circuitry. After the arc is struck, the internal resistance of the lamp drops to a low level, and the ballast limits the current to the operating current. Without a ballast, excess current would flow, causing rapid destruction of the lamp.
Some lamp types contain a small amount of neon, which permits striking at normal running voltage with no external ignition circuitry. Low-pressure sodium lamps operate this way. The simplest ballasts are just an inductor, and are chosen where cost is the deciding factor, such as street lighting. More advanced electronic ballasts may be designed to maintain constant light output over the life of the lamp, may drive the lamp with a square wave to maintain completely flicker-free output, and shut down in the event of certain faults.
The most efficient source of electric light is the low-pressure sodium lamp. It produces, for all practical purposes, a monochromatic orange-yellow light, which gives a similarly monochromatic perception of any illuminated scene. For this reason, it is generally reserved for outdoor public lighting applications. Low-pressure sodium lights are favoured for public lighting by astronomers, since the light pollution that they generate can be easily filtered, contrary to broadband or continuous spectra.
Many lamp units, or light bulbs, are specified in standardized shape codes and socket names. Incandescent bulbs and their retrofit replacements are often specified as "A19/A60 E26/E27", a common size for these kind of light bulbs. In this example, the "A" parameters describe the bulb size and shape within the A-series light bulb while the "E" parameters describe the Edison screw base size and thread characteristics.
Life expectancy for many types of lamp is defined as the number of hours of operation at which 50% of them fail, that is the median life of the lamps. Production tolerances as low as 1% can create a variance of 25% in lamp life, so in general some lamps will fail well before the rated life expectancy, and some will last much longer. For LEDs, lamp life is defined as the operation time at which 50% of lamps have experienced a 70% decrease in light output. In the 1900s the Phoebus cartel formed in an attempt to reduce the life of electric light bulbs, an example of planned obsolescence.
Some types of lamp are also sensitive to switching cycles. Rooms with frequent switching, such as bathrooms, can expect much shorter lamp life than what is printed on the box. Compact fluorescent lamps are particularly sensitive to switching cycles.
Electric lamps can also be used as a grow light to aid in plant growth especially in indoor hydroponics and aquatic plants with recent research into the most effective types of light for plant growth.
More than 150 years ago, inventors began working on a bright idea that would have a dramatic impact on how we use energy in our homes and offices. This invention changed the way we design buildings, increased the length of the average workday and jumpstarted new businesses. It also led to new energy breakthroughs -- from power plants and electric transmission lines to home appliances and electric motors.
One of the fastest developing lighting technologies today is the light-emitting diode (or LED). A type of solid-state lighting, LEDs use a semiconductor to convert electricity into light, are often small in area (less than 1 square millimeter) and emit light in a specific direction, reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light. 041b061a72