The Invention of Light Bulb Essay Example



Thomas Alva Edison once said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work” when he was working on the construction of the first electric light bulb. The light bulb was invented in the year 1879, and patented a year later, in 1880. Before the invention of the light bulb, it was difficult for anybody to do anything after sunset. Then, when the light bulb was first invented, it began to gain popularity almost everywhere. Candles and oil-based lamps were very dangerous fire hazards, which led to many deaths. It increased visibility in the workplace, which helped make it easier for workers to see potential hazards. The creation of the light bulb actually made it possible for televisions, some video game systems and even electric radios to become a part of people’s homes (Kalinowski, 2017). The light bulb made for a safer nighttime  environment, both inside and outside. Since the creation of the incandescent light bulb, it has sparked many ideas of other different types of light bulbs and how to improve it and make it even better. 

The incandescent light bulb wasn’t just the first light bulb, it was the first light bulb of many. A lot of companies such as General Electric and Texas Instruments have created new types of light bulbs to better the original. Some other types of light bulbs that we have now include, the compact fluorescent light or CFL, the halogen light bulb, and the light emitting diode or LED light. Many of these other light bulbs have been proven to be more efficient than the original incandescent while others were just created for a different purpose. But the real question now is, how has the creation of the incandescent lightbulb affected and compared to the different types of lightbulbs we all know today?

The compact fluorescent light, or the CFL bulb, was created in 1976 by a man who went by the name of Edward Hammer, working at General Electric. You can replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 22-watt CFL bulb and still get the same amount of light. CFLs use 50%-80% less energy than the incandescent light bulb. Along with the CFL having a lower wattage and using less energy, just a single CFL bulb can reduce a half-ton of CO2 from the earth’s atmosphere over the whole life span of the bulb (Abbas, 2020). The life span is around 10,000 hours, which is reasonably more than the incandescent, at 1,000 hours. The CFL bulb is definitely more energy efficient when compared to the incandescent light bulb. But there are other bulbs that are even more efficient.

The halogen light bulb, or lamp, was created in 1955 by two men, Elmer Fridrich and Emmet Wiley. Later in 1959, the company General Electric patented the halogen light bulb, using iodine as the halogen gas. The halogen light bulb is actually a type of incandescent light bulb which uses a type of halogen gas, iodine in this case, in order to increase the light output. Quoting bulbs.com, “In a typical incandescent lamp, tungsten slowly evaporates from the burning filament. This causes blackening of the lamp, which decreases light output and reduces life.” The halogen gas within the lamp actually reacts with the evaporated tungsten to stop it from sticking to the glass. They are known for a pretty high efficiency, a good quality of light, and a longer life span, compared to regular incandescent light bulbs or lamps. The halogen light bulb uses around 30% less energy than the old incandescent lights with nearly twice the bulb life. Halogens are safer to handle, when not hot, because of their stronger glass and the bright white light makes it easier on the eyes when reading (Wilsdon, 2020).

The light emitting diode, or the LED bulb, was created in 1961 by Robert Biard and Gary Pittman, while both were working at the company Texas Instruments. LED’s are popular for their bright light that takes up less energy and produces less heat. LED’s have electrons that flow to create photons, which create very little heat. LED’s also require much less energy to create the same amount of brightness as incandescent lights, and last much longer. Compared to the incandescent light bulb, the LED bulb uses 75% less energy and is way more cost effective. According to energy.gov, “the original incandescent light bulb has a bulb life of about 1,000 hours, while the LED has a bulb life of 25,000 hours or more.” Most of the energy that goes into the incandescent bulb is lost as heat. The hotter the light bulb is, the more energy is wasted and the more expensive it is. Although it was very popular back in the 1800’s and 1900’s, really being the only choice, it still wasn’t very energy efficient.

Although all of these types of light bulbs have been proven to be better than the incandescent bulb, they still have their flaws as well. While the CFL bulb uses a lot less energy, based on superiorlighting.com, it does happen to take a lot longer to warm up, it may not have as many color temperatures, and it is cold temperature sensitive. Looking at the halogen light bulb, it isn't the most cost effective, while it costs almost 4 times the incandescent bulb. Along with the cost, they can also cause fires if it gets hot enough. While in the 90’s, halogen lights and lamps actually caused fires in some homes. Nowadays the halogen lamps come with metal or glass top shades to help prevent them from heating up and catching on fire (Wilsdon, 2020). The biggest problem with LED light bulbs is that they may not always be dimmer compatible, resulting in flickering lights in a dark space. According to arcadia.com, LED bulbs also used to be on the pricier side, but the price has come down as LED lights have become very popular, almost to the point where you can’t find much else besides an LED light bulb.

If you are looking at the data in the long run, the LED light bulb is the most effective, whether that is based on the energy efficiency or the cost efficiency, it is definitely the better of all of the light bulbs. But when looking at all of these different types of light bulbs as a whole, they have all improved significantly when compared to the original incandescent light bulb, from over a century ago. And it can definitely be said that Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb has really affected our world now.