Topic # 25 Lights
Efficient New Light Bulbs
When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in the late 1800’s people were too amazed by the fact that they could effectively light up the night to bother considering how much energy was required.1 As time has marched forward, the priorities and desires of mankind have evolved. With growing concerns over world energy reserves and power production, many around the world have searched for ways to reduce energy consumption. One of the explored ideas was the LED light bulb. Consuming far less energy than a traditional light bulb while enduring a longer period before expiring, the LED light bulb is an ideal replacement of the traditional bulb in regards to the preservation of energy. Another lighting idea that panned out was the florescent light bulb. These bulbs employ a different method of light production when compared to LED lights, but they have similar results of energy cost reduction and longevity. It may seem like a small thing to reduce the power consumed by a light bulb, but when all of the lights of the world are converted the benefits will add up to be something worth investing in.
The Inner Workings of Fluorescent Light Bulbs
In order to understand why Fluorescent and LED light bulbs are a more efficient choice it is important to first understand the basic concept of the tradition or incandescent light bulb. An incandescent light bulb uses a thin tungsten filament contained within a glass container. When an electrical current is run through the filament the filament resists the electrical current. The resistance of the tungsten filament against the electrical current transforms the electrical energy into heat, which makes the filament white hot and in turn makes it glow, producing light. This method works, but the heat energy required to generate the light is essentially a waste of energy.2 This inefficiency of light production has been worked out of fluorescent light bulbs altogether.
A fluorescent bulb operates in an entirely different way from an incandescent bulb. At both ends of the fluorescent tube there are electrodes. Inside the tube there is a gas made up of argon and mercury vapor. The electrodes send out streams of electrons in both directions which rub against the mercury atoms, causing them to excite. The constant cycle of the mercury atoms entering an excited and unexcited state cause them to produce ultraviolet photons. Then these photons run into the phosphor coated insides of the fluorescent tube creating visible light. Because significantly less heat is required to facilitate this process fluorescent bulbs are four to six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs.2
The Details of LED Lights and Bulb Longevity
Fluorescent light bulbs are not the only source of more efficient lighting though. The light-emitting diode, or LED for short, is a type of light source that was not originally used in bulb form. However, after seeing...