Electric light



An electric light is a device that produces visible light from electric current. It is the most common form of artificial lighting and is essential to modern society, providing interior lighting for buildings and exterior light for evening and nighttime activities. In technical usage, a replaceable component that produces light from electricity is called a lamp. Lamps are commonly called light bulbs; for example, the incandescent light bulb. Lamps usually have a base made of ceramic, metal, glass, or plastic, which secures the lamp in the socket of a light fixture. The electrical connection to the socket may be made with a screw-thread base, two metal pins, two metal caps or a bayonet cap.
The energy efficiency of electric lighting has increased radically since the first demonstration of arc lamps and the incandescent light bulb of the 19th century. Modern electric light sources come in a profusion of types and sizes adapted to many applications. Most modern electric lighting is powered by centrally generated electric power, but lighting may also be powered by mobile or standby electric generators or battery systems. Battery-powered light is often reserved for when and where stationary lights fail, often in the form of flashlights or electric lanterns, as well as in vehicles.
The most efficient source of electric light is the low-pressure sodium lamp. It produces, for all practical purposes, a monochromatic orange-yellow light, which gives a similarly monochromatic perception of any illuminated scene. For this reason, it is generally reserved for outdoor public lighting applications. Low-pressure sodium lights are favoured for public lighting by astronomers, since the light pollution that they generate can be easily filtered, contrary to broadband or continuous spectra.
Incandescent bulbs are being phased out in many countries due to their low energy efficiency. Less than 3% of the input energy is converted into usable light. Nearly all of the input energy ends up as heat that, in warm climates, must then be removed from the building by ventilation or air conditioning, often resulting in more energy consumption. In colder climates where heating and lighting is required during the cold and dark winter months, the heat byproduct has at least some value.
The solid-state light-emitting diode (LED) has been popular as an indicator light in consumer electronics and professional audio gear since the 1970s. In the 2000s, efficacy and output have risen to the point where LEDs are now being used in lighting applications such as car headlights and brake lights, in flashlights and bicycle lights, as well as in decorative applications, such as holiday lighting. Indicator LEDs are known for their extremely long life, up to 100,000 hours, but lighting LEDs are operated much less conservatively, and consequently have shorter lives. LED technology is useful for lighting designers, because of its low power consumption, low heat generation, instantaneous on/off control, and in the case of single color LEDs, continuity of color throughout the life of the diode and relatively low cost of manufacture. LED lifetime depends strongly on the temperature of the diode. Operating an LED lamp in conditions that increase the internal temperature can greatly shorten the lamp's life.
Invented by Humphry Davy around 1805, the carbon arc was the first practical electric light. It was used commercially beginning in the 1870s for large building and street lighting until it was superseded in the early 20th century by the incandescent light. Carbon arc lamps operate at high power and produce high intensity white light. They also are a point source of light. They remained in use in limited applications that required these properties, such as movie projectors, stage lighting, and searchlights, until after World War II.
Life expectancy for many types of lamp is defined as the number of hours of operation at which 50% of them fail, that is the median life of the lamps. Production tolerances as low as 1% can create a variance of 25% in lamp life, so in general some lamps will fail well before the rated life expectancy, and some will last much longer. For LEDs, lamp life is defined as the operation time at which 50% of lamps have experienced a 70% decrease in light output.