As the new year was ushered in amid many dazzling light displays, the life of America’s oldest light bulb was effectively extinguished—with production now banned in the country due to modern technological upgrades that will save energy.
The incandescent light bulb, patented by Thomas Alva Edison in 1880, and still widely-used in American homes, was banned January 1, 2014, after the Environmental Protection Agency determined that only ten percent of energy used by traditional incandescent bulbs went toward making light. The remaining ninety percent of energy was wasted, and ended up as heat, according to the EPA.
75-watt and 100-watt light bulbs were banned in 2013, but the beginning of 2014 signaled an end to America’s most popular incandescent selections—the coveted 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs, which will no longer be produced. Incandescents will now be replaced by halogen and LED bulbs, which are dramatically-more energy-conserving.
The first recorded instance of incandescent light occurred in 1800, when English scientist Humphry Davy invented an electric battery, to which he connected a piece of carbon, which created light. 60 years later, English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, improved upon Davy’s design, and added a carbon paper filament to the mix, which created great light, but burnt up rather quickly. It wasn’t until 20 years after that when inventor Thomas Alva Edison experimented with thousands of different filaments, finally finding one that would create light in a bulb for up to 40 hours. He then “one-upped” himself, and later developed a bulb that would burn for over 1,500 hours. Although the first incandescent light was created in 1800, Edison did not develop and patent a usable model until 1880.
Incandescent bulbs create light by heating a filament of tungsten metal until it is white-hot. The tungsten then slowly begins to vaporize and deposit on the inside of the light bulb—making the bulb burn out because the tungsten becomes too thin to carry an electrical current. Halogen bulbs are filled with a special gas that causes the vaporized tungsten to re-circulate and deposit back onto the filament instead of the inside of the bulb, which in turn makes them burn longer and hotter. A new type of halogen bulb uses infrared light to redirect the tungsten back to the filament, and averages around 30 percent more efficiency that standard incandescent bulbs.
CFLs—or compact fluorescent lamps, have been found to be more than 75 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Many scientists have called for CFLs to be implemented as the standard light bulb in American homes and businesses, with Arthur Rodenfeld, physicist and member of California’s Energy Commission saying that if every home across America would replace just one incandescent bulb with a CFL, the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions saved would be equal to taking one million cars off of the road.
Daycoa, Incorporated of Medway is a second-generation, family-owned distributor of commercial lighting products, one of the largest in the nation. Norm Dendler of Daycoa said that the company still has access to thousands of incandescent bulbs ranging from 25, 40, 60, and 75-wattages. Dendler said the company that supplies Daycoa with bulbs is based out of South Carolina, but did not anticipate Daycoa to run out of incandescent bulbs in the immediate future.