Tag Archives: Incandescent Light Bulbs

The Incandescent Light Bulb Strikes Back…

An incandescent light bulb

Following the EU ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs, we all thought the future was based around LED lighting. But it seems that the clever people from MIT in America have given the incandescent light bulb a reprieve thanks to a technological breakthrough.

Incandescent lighting and its warm, familiar glow is well over a century old yet survives virtually unchanged in homes around the world. It is a simple design that everyone loves. But that has been changing fast, as regulations aimed at improving energy efficiency have been phasing out the old bulbs in favour of more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and newer light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs).

Incandescent bulbs, commercially developed by Thomas Edison, work by heating a thin tungsten wire to temperatures of around 2,700 degrees Celsius. That hot wire emits what is known as black body radiation, a very broad spectrum of light that provides a warm look and a faithful rendering of all colours to the human eye.

But these bulbs have always suffered from one major problem: More than 95 percent of the energy that goes into them is wasted, most of it as heat. That’s why country after country has banned or is phasing out the inefficient technology. Now, researchers at MIT and Purdue University have found a way to change all that.

Three MIT professors have made major breakthrough with what they call – light recycling. The key is to create a two-stage process, the researchers report.

The first stage involves a conventional heated metal filament, with all its attendant losses. But instead of allowing the waste heat to dissipate in the form of infrared radiation, secondary structures surrounding the filament capture this radiation and reflect it back to the filament to be re-absorbed and re-emitted as visible light. These structures, a form of photonic crystal, are made of Earth-abundant elements and can be made using conventional material-deposition technology.

That second step makes a dramatic difference in how efficiently the system converts electricity into light. One quantity that characterizes a lighting source is the so-called luminous efficiency, which takes into account the response of the human eye. Whereas the luminous efficiency of conventional incandescent lights is between 2 and 3 percent, that of fluorescents (including CFLs) is between 7 and 15 percent, and that of most compact LEDs between 5 and 15 percent, the new two-stage incandescent could reach efficiencies as high as 40 percent, the team says.

The first proof-of-concept units made by the team do not yet reach that level, achieving about 6.6 percent efficiency. But even that preliminary result matches the efficiency of some of today’s CFLs and LEDs, they point out. And it is already a threefold improvement over the efficiency of today’s incandescent light bulbs.

The team refers to their approach as “light recycling,” since their material takes in the unwanted, useless wavelengths of energy and converts them into the visible light wavelengths that are desired.  Put simply “It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted,”

Here at Easy-Lightbulbs.com we think this is a brilliant step forward. The majority of people still love the light from incandescent bulbs and the ease with which it works with all dimmers. If incandescent light bulbs are suddenly as efficient as LED’s then we will be able to bring them back into the UK and Europe for our customers.


Origins of the light bulb

The light bulb is an essential modern day convenience upon which we rely on a daily basis; life without it would be unrecognisable. The common assumption is that Thomas Alva Edison ‘invented’ the light bulb in 1879, in fact, a more accurate way to describe the origins of the light bulb, would be to say it was the outcome of an evolutionary process, of which many people contributed. Quite remarkably, some historians claim there were more than 22 inventors of incandescent bulbs prior to 1879. However, Edison stands alone as the first to create a commercially viable light bulb. This article examines the extraordinary early stages of development and influential figures in the incandescent bulb evolution.

Early light bulbs

In 1802, British Chemist, Sir Humphrey Davey was able to demonstrate the first incandescent light at The Royal Institution of Great Britain. He used an electric battery, then the most powerful one in the world, to pass current through a strip of platinum and generate a dull light. He went on to create the first electric light, known as the Electric Arc lamp in 1809, by connecting a 2,000 cell battery to a charcoal rod. The light created was short lived and the invention impractical, but a precedent had been set and an explosion of lighting technologies was to follow.

Throughout the following decades, inventors experimented with various combinations of carbon rods, platinum and iridium wires, and vacuumed enclosures. Some designs were patented and demonstrated, but a commercially suitable product remained elusive.

In 1840, British Scientist, Warren de la Rue enclosed a coiled platinum filament in a vacuum tube and produced light by passing an electric current through it. The thinking being, the high melting point of platinum would allow for a high operating temperature and the evacuated chamber would result in fewer molecules coming into contact with the platinum, so boosting longevity. The design was effective, but the high price of platinum meant it was commercially unfeasible.

German inventor, Henricq Goebel, is acknowledged in some quarters as creator of the first light bulb using high resistant carbonised bamboo filament inside a glass bulb. However, it was only in 1893, years after Edison’s commercial product had been introduced to the market that Goebel claimed he had invented the bulb in 1854. He never applied for a patent and his claims were never substantiated.

Throughout the 1850/60s, English Physicist, Joseph Swan, developed his version of a light bulb with carbonised paper filaments in an evacuated glass bulb. By 1860 he had a working prototype but inconsistent electricity supply and difficulties creating a true vacuum, meant lamp life was short. As the 1870s progressed, vacuum pumps improved in quality and by 1878 Swan had produced another incandescent lamp with a treated cotton thread. Unlike previous versions, this lamp avoided early bulb blackening and the vacuum allowed the filament to glow white-hot and emit light without catching fire. Unfortunately for Swan, the lamp had a carbon rod rather than a thin filament, this meant it had a high resistance and required a large current, making it impractical for commercial use.

On 24 July 1874, Henry Woodward, an inventor from Toronto and his colleague Matthew Evans, had their light bulb patent approved. Unlike others, their lamps employed different size and shaped carbon rods held in place between electrodes in glass cylinders filled with nitrogen. The lamps worked but attempts to commercialise the product proved unsuccessful, and in 1879 they sold the patent to Edison.

Thomas Edison and the first commercially viable light bulb

In 1878 Edison set about creating a commercially viable light bulb. On 14 October 1878, he filed a US patent application for ‘improvement in electric lights.’ The first successful product test took place on 22 October 1879 and lasted for 13.5 hours. After further experimentation and design improvement, Edison filed for another patent on 4 November 1879, for a lamp using ‘a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected … to platina contact wires.’ The carbon filament could be created using ‘cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways.’ When Edison and his team discovered a carbonised bamboo filament could burn for over 1,200 hours, the commercially viable product was created. In 1880, Thomas Edison’s Company, Edison Electric Light Company, marketed the first commercial light bulb. Edison continued to develop his product and from 1878 to 1928 he applied for over 1,000 patents. Today, incandescent lamps are still in use and the Edison Screw cap is still widely used across lighting products.

Traditional light bulbs still available today

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Although lighting technologies have developed rapidly in recent years, many people still like the look and feel of a traditional incandescent light bulb. Incandescents are currently still available but a recent EU Directive against inefficient lamps has rendered most obsolete as of September 2013. But don’t fear, many wholesalers, including The Lamp Company have large stocks of incandescent lamps remaining in GLS, Candle and Golf Ball shapes. Our remaining stock includes 150w, 100w, 75w, and 60w in clear, frosted and coloured finishes.

 Incandescent CandleIncandescent Golf Ball Incandescent GLS




Industrial Light Bulbs

Industrial lamps are manufactured with an extra filament support to withstand extra stresses such as knocks and vibrations and are traditionally used on building sites. The lamps have a rated life of 3,000 hours compared to 1,000 hours for a traditional incandescent. A full range of industrial lamps, in a variety of shapes and sizes can be found here.

Ferrowatt Light Bulbs

Ferrowatt are the leading brand of traditional style bulbs still in production. All products are detailed as per the originals produced by Edison, including looped filaments and hand-exhausted tips. These lamps are ideal for those wanting Victorian and Art Nouveau style finishes, particularly in museums, hotels, theatres, historic buildings and period homes.

Ferrowatt lamps available:

Antique Squirrel Cage – Vintage long life bulbs with a squirrel cage filament. Bayonet and Edison Screw caps available in 40w and 60w.

Ferrowatt Antique Reproduction

Tesla Commemorative – Serbian inventor, Nikola Tesla, played a significant role in the development of the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system at the end of the twentieth century. Edison used an antiquated form of direct current (DC) electrical supply in his lamps. Alternating Current is still the industry standard today. Ferrowatt’s vintage 25w Tesla Commemorative lamp with Edison Screw cap recognises this achievement.

Tesla Ferrowatt

Vintage Art Deco – Vintage Art Deco style 30w bulb with Edison Screw cap.

Vintage Art Deco

Antique Reproduction – Vintage long life reproduction bulb with carbon filament. Available in Bayonet and Edison Screw cap, 15w and 60w.  

Vintage Long Life Ferrowatt

LED Antique Cage – This lamp infuses modern LED technology with traditional appearance and style. 1.3w LED in Edison Screw cap with 100 Lumens and a fantastic 30,000 hour rated life.   

Ferrowatt LED

Should you require more information about traditional light bulbs please don’t hesitate to contact us. Call 01462 490066 or email sales@lampco.co.uk. Our extensive lighting range can be viewed online here.

Choosing a light bulb for the home

A walk down the lighting aisle at your local DIY Shed, hardware shop or supermarket isn’t what it used to be. The old, relatively homogenous display of incandescent lamps has morphed into rows of new bulbs, such as halogens, CFLs and LEDs all with technical terms most consumers know very little about. While these new bulbs, or lamps offer consumers even more choices for home lighting, they also cause confusion. Confronted with all these new lamp offerings, how can you tell which one is right for you?

To help you determine which lamp is the right fit, we’re going back to the bulb/lamp basics. Here are some quick facts about the four most common types of lamps that you’ll encounter still on sale today.

Standard Incandescent

General Household Lightbulbs

It may be the most commonly recognized lamp, but this descendant of Thomas Edison’s original light bulb isn’t what it used to be. New EU regulations mandated big changes for these items. These energy-efficiency regulations have effectively banned the manufacturing of the most common incandescent lamps, from 25 to 150w, to pave the way for Compact Fluorescents or LEDs which consume less energy and are shown further in this article.

Lower wattage incandescent lamps can be used anywhere that their energy-inefficient forbearers were used. But, because they are still not as energy-efficient as other types of lamps, it’s best to save them for settings where colour rendering is key, such as bathroom make-up counters or where the lights aren’t turned on 24/7. They are also fully dimmable, and work well for dimming fixtures like decorative chandeliers.

For those of you that prefer the old lamps we still have plenty of the old fashioned lamps available and you can find these on our website by visiting our General Household Lighting section.


Halogen Energy Savers

Often referred to as a “close cousin” of the standard incandescent lamp, the halogen lamp is actually a type of incandescent lamp that contains a halogen gas mixture. This mix of gasses increases the lamp’s lifetime and produces more light using less energy.

Some halogens, called halogen IR lamps, have an infrared coating that can double to triple the life of lamp compared to a regular halogen lamp. There are energy saving halogens now that replace the standard incandescent for the time being. Visit our Halogen Energy Savers section of the web site.

While most halogens use less energy that traditional standard incandescent lamps, they produce the same colour of light, making them ideal replacements for any applications that use standard incandescents. If dimming, initial cost and colour rendering are important, then halogen is an excellent choice. Halogen may not save anywhere near as much energy as other common lamp technologies, so it may not be the best solution for applications that require lights to be on 24 hours a day, or if you’re looking to save a lot of energy. You can always contact our sales office that offer sensible solutions to a problem rather than chasing a fast profit.



While CFLs got a bad rap in their early days, the majority of CFLs of today differ greatly from some of the “green-hued” early predecessors.

CFLs have great energy-saving capabilities, a long life and a low initial cost. In fact, most CFLi’s can use 75-80% less energy, produce 60-75% less heat, and lasts up to 8-15 times longer than a standard incandescent. Because of this, they are ideal for almost any ambient or task lighting application. Not all CFLs dim, so be sure to check the package to make sure the bulb is dimmable.

Some poor quality CFLs can flicker and take a while to start up, so opt for high-quality products. If you want to approximate the colour of a standard incandescent, look for CFLs with a correlated colour temperature, or CCT, around 2,700-3,000 degree Kelvin. We have our own range of 3000 Kelvin lamps in our Casell brand that are excellent in the home. Search for the shape and cap required in our Energy Saving Bulbs section of our website.

Because CFLs contain a small amount of mercury they must be properly recycled according to the directions on the packaging. Most retailers and Supermarkets now have the recycle bins available. For domestic users, we have a recycle bin at our warehouse if required.



LED is the newest mainstream lamp technology and it’s often the most misunderstood, and for good reason. LED is drastically unlike other standards lamps, both in terms of technology (it’s a solid-state lighting (SSL) source with a semiconductor chip) and quality (which varies greatly from product to product). So, it’s important to do your homework when buying an LED lamp. Hopefully the information below will help you in your purchase. If not, please email the sales office sales@lampco.co.uk.

Firstly, look at the brand you are buying and check the warranty offered. Remember, domestically an LED is used on average 3 hours a day in the home that’s just under 1100 hours a year (Much longer if you have teenage kids like me!), so warranties for 2-3 years and claims of 30-50,000 hours life are really not that attractive as a consumer weighing up the warranty with the expected life. Certainly this is an issue with LED but the major manufacturers will always back their products. Some of the unknown LED manufacturers & far eastern “White box” specials will not be so supportive, or more likely not be here in 3 years’ time.

Look at an LED lamp’s lumens, or the amount of light the lamp produces, instead of wattage, the amount of power it uses, when comparing LED lamps to other bulbs. LED bulbs use less wattage than incandescents, but may actually produce more light. You might find that a 10-watt LED produces the same amount of lumens as a 60-watt incandescent, which translates to energy savings.

LEDs can produce virtually any color light, including the full spectrum of visible white light. Compare the CCT of the LED product you are evaluating to the product you are looking to replace. Typically an LED lamp in the 2,700K-3,000K range will have a similar colour to incandescent and warm-white CFL lamps. For spot lamps the widest beam angle available is generally a much better option as LED light is very directional. Halogen and incandescent always have spill overs reflecting off the ceiling and other surfaces. LED’s don’t have that it’s all in one direction.

Price is another huge difference between LEDs and other lamps: An LED can cost ten/twenty times and sometimes more than an incandescent! But before price shock sets in, consider the cost over the lifetime of the lamp. Some LED lamps last 30-50,000+ hours, making the lamp an investment that can pay off in the long run. LED lamps also use less energy, and can help you save on energy costs. Our Energy Saving Calculator shows you the overall saving during the life of the LED.

LEDs can be used for task and ambient lighting. Decorative lighting styles such as chandelier bulbs are also becoming more widely available. Be sure to check packaging for dimming capabilities, since not all LED lamps are dimmable.

Finally, with LED lamps there is a rule that should not be forgotten. “You pay for what you get!” You can find LED Lamps on our website by visiting our LED Lighting section.

If you would like further lighting advice please call 01462 490066, fax 01462 491166 or email sales@lampco.uk and we will be happy to help.

3.3 million energy efficient light bulbs to be given to customers in Kenya

 Kenyan Flag

Energy supplier Kenya Power has announced it will distribute 3.3 million energy efficient light bulbs to its customers as part of a new scheme designed to reduce energy demand at peak hours by 130 MW.

The project will target low-income households and the switch from inefficient incandescent bulbs to more energy efficient compact fluorescents will mean consumers save on their energy bills. In addition Kenya Power will also receive money for the project in the form of carbon credits.

The Kenyan Government and Agence Française de Développement will fund the scheme at an estimated cost of around 1.3 billion KSh ($15.2 million).  

While the project may look like a win win situation from the outside, it is worth remembering however that the project will only work if all 3.3 million lamps are plugged into sockets that are in use. This is extremely unlikely. More cupboard lamps for all then!

130 years and counting for Britain’s oldest light bulb

From 1883 to 2013 Britain survived two world wars, saw 24 different Prime Ministers and ushered in the Millennium, but one thing remained constant throughout: Britain’s oldest light bulb was and still is shining brightly.

Image courtesy of the Daily Mail Online

The decorative incandescent bulb which has six twisted filaments is a product of the Ediswan factory established in 1881 by British Physicist Sir Joseph Swan and American Thomas Edison. Both men are credited with work towards the invention of the light bulb. Swan pioneered the use of a vacuum inside an incandescent bulb. This allowed the filament to glow white-hot and give off light without catching fire. Meanwhile Edison ensured the light bulb become a commercially viable product.  

Britain’s oldest light bulb was originally owned by Florence Crook and then passed down to her son Kenneth. The bulb is now owned and still used by Kenneth’s widow Beth who when asked about it said: ‘it’s a real talking point. There is no substitution for craftsmanship. The new eco bulbs take weeks to warm up and hardly give off any light.’      

Meanwhile, the Guinness Book of Records have credited Fire Station 6 in California with having the oldest light bulb in continuous use, after an impressive 109 years of service.

Any lamp collectors who are interested in The Lamp Company’s old collection of obsolete lamps please email sales@lampco.co.uk or call 01462 490066 for more information. We have around 1.4 million light bulbs in our warehouse and our product range is expanding all the time. You can view our products online here.