Cool Light Bulb Facts

In our series of facts, we have 9 fun light bulb facts for you. But why did we choose light bulbs? Well, we usually take lighting for granted, it’s there with the flip of a switch and we barely remember we have light bulbs until they don’t work anymore. But do you know what happens behind it? Or how has it changed throughout the years? Well, without further ado,

Let´s start with the light bulb facts!

1. The Centennial Light Bulb: The oldest one out there

Centennial Light Bulb

Photo: Centennial Light Bulb

You must know by now there is one—really— old light bulb still in use, thanks to our cool facts about energy article. Right? If not, don’t worry, we will tell you some cool light bulb facts about it.

  • It’s been in use for almost 120 years now.
  • The bulb was placed at a local fire station in Livermore, California, in 1901.
  • It consumes only 4 watts.
  • You can see a video of it on the Centennial Bulb website.
  • There had only been one break in its operation when it was removed from one fire station and fitted into another.
  • The light bulb has been holding the Guinness World Records for many years now.

2. The first electric light was not invented by Thomas Alba Edison

Humphry Davy, the first electric light inventor

Photo: Humphry Davy
© Science Photo Library

You probably heard that Thomas Alva Edison was the inventor of the light bulb, right? Well, you’ll be surprised to know that those light bulb facts aren’t quite right. Edison did not invent the light bulb; he made it better and patented it. In fact, it happened back in 1809, 71 years before the discovery of the light bulb as we know it today. Humphry Davy placed a thin strip of coal between the two poles of a battery, and it glowed. He invented the Carbo Arc Lamp. What a flip, huh?

This is one of the light bulb facts that comes with a longer explanation. Thomas Edison started serious research in 1878 to develop a lamp and filed his first “Improvement In Electric Lights” patent application on October 14, 1878.

But to improve his original construction, he continued testing different materials for metal filaments, and by 4 Nov 1879; he filed another US patent for electric light, using a carbon filament or strip that was coiled and connected to platinum contact wires. This patent was the base for modern bulbs, as we know them now. Making them a cost-efficient and convenient solution for houses and offices.

3. Incandescent light bulb facts.

We’re sure you’ve heard about the light bulb facts on how to change your light bulbs to led ones you’ll save an enormous amount of money, right? Well, if you haven’t, or if you want to know why let us tell you why you should do it immediately:

  • Incandescent light bulbs are extremely inefficient. Less than 10% of its energy consumption is used to produce light.
  • According to the US Department of Energy, replacing your incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR ones can save you up to $75 per year. (if you don’t know what ENERGY STAR® is, we recommend you check out our full article about it)
  • It was the second form of electric light to be developed after Davy’s Carbon arc Lamp.
  • It is the second most used lamp worldwide

4. Some of the first light bulbs were made of bamboo.

Let’s move on to the next one of our light bulb facts. When you think about Bamboo what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Exactly, pandas. Would you ever think that it was one of the first materials that worked to create light, consistently, for longer than 40 hrs? Well, Edison took bamboo, carbonized it, and used it as a filament.

The first filaments of bamboo had a square shape because they were cut by a certain process from larger pieces. To avoid the high cost of platinum clamps he electrolyzed the bamboo directly to the lead. Later, the bamboo was used to attach the lead-in wires with carbon paste. Bamboo filaments were used until the late 19th century.

5. Pele, the Brazilian soccer legend was named after Thomas Edison.

Are you into soccer? If so, this will be one of the coolest light bulb facts for you. Pele, one of the greatest soccer players out there, got his nickname from his school friends. His birth name is Edson Arantes honoring Thomas Edison. He even tweeted about it in 2014:

6. Now of to our neighbor country: Canada’s Niagara Falls.

On another one of our light bulb facts, let’s travel to our neighboring country. The first time Niagara Falls were lit, was in 1860, it was done by Bengal lights. Then, the first use of electric lights happened in 1879 for the Royal visit of the governor-general of Canada. Then it was lit with carbon arc lights! Making it the first time in history that the Falls were illuminated by the use of electricity – See why Davy was so important?

In 1925 the falls became constantly lit up with carbon arcs. The carbon lights were changed to Xenon lamps in 1974. Today there are 21 xenon spotlights, 4,000 watts each, at the Falls which are equivalent to about 8.2 billion candles.

According to Niagara Falls Info, “Power is supplied by the City of Niagara Falls Hydro Commission. It is estimated that the cost of illuminating the Falls, including the services of an operator, is approximately $85 per hour”.

Niagara´s falls lighting

Did you learn something new with these light bulb facts? Stay tuned to our new section of facts to keep learning about energy. Lighting has come a long way, from a humble candle to LEDs, xenon lamps, and more. If you want to learn more about energy deregulation, or about how the electricity gets to you through the electric grid, or just random facts about the energy you’re at the right place. Check out our latest articles & shared segments to learn more about it, and find saving tips and everything you need to know to make that Energy Choice. Go On, Be Powerful with PowerChoiceNow.