The problem with early lightbulbs was that they didn’t last very long, in 1880 Thomas Edison created a lightbulb that could last for up to 1200 hours. The Edison lightbulb contained a bamboo filament, contained in an oxygenless glass bulb.
In 1906 The General Electric Company began experimenting with tungsten filaments. This new type of filament and the lack of oxygen in the bulb meant that the new incandescent bulb lasted longer than ever before, this invention meant that everyone wanted electric lighting and incandescent bulbs in their house. Find the full history of incandescent lightbulbs here.
In September 2012 the EU the EU completely banned the sale of incandescent bulbs, the aim of this ban was to save energy. The European Union estimates that their ban will save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across the European Union by each year by the year 2020. The old incandescent bulb has been replaced by energy saving bulbs, the move has been surrounded by much controversy, with claims the new bulbs cannot be used in certain locations and that they are even dangerous. David Ike claims the bulbs contain secret tracking devices, cameras or something.
Energy saving bulbs are like the fluorescent tubes you may have seen in school, shops or offices. These new bulbs are actually known as compact fluorescent lamps, CFL bulbs for short. One of the main complaints about CFL bulbs is that they contain mercury, exposure to mercury can cause conditions known as hydrargyria or mercurialism, less than a gram of mercury can cause death. According to this study the risk presented by CFL bulbs is very low and the energy saving benefits they offer is great, CFL bulbs are up to 75% more energy efficient than the traditional incandescent type.
How They Work
The CFL bulb is filled with mercury vapour and electronic ballast, when the light is switched on and electricity flows. The electricity causes mercury vapour to give off ultraviolet light, the ultraviolet light stimulates the phosphorous coating on the inside of the glass CFL bulb and produces light in the visible range.
One benefit of CFL bulbs is that they generate less heat than the traditional incandescent bulbs and because of this reduced heat they are less destructive. A continuous buildup of heat in enclosed luminaires can cause cables or lampholders to become brittle and eventually they can crack.
Because of the energy saving lamps lower operating temperature, this type of damage is greatly reduced. If cables going into the light fitting that houses the CFL are sleeved and protected there will be absolutely no heat damage.
Other Benefits and Disadvantages
CFL bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs did. They cannot be used in dimmable light fittings, if they are fitted into a dimmable switch they will flicker and not last very long. They will not work at all if it is too cold or too hot. CFL bulbs need to be disposed of properly but so did the old incandescent type of bulb.
This post was supplied by Mark Stubbles who writes for electrical wholesalers, Cannon Electrical Supplies.