The longest-lasting light bulb in the world is an incandescent bulb located in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department in Livermore, California, and has been burning for a whopping 110 years – but what we really want to know is what <em>kind</em> of light bulb lasts the longest.
If you’ve ever read this blog then you already know the answer – it depends!
<strong>Incandescent Bulbs: Filament Fragility</strong>
<a title="Incandescent Light Bulbs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/incandescent-bulbs_36.html" target="_blank">Incandescent bulbs</a> are the most common type of light bulb and come in several varieties including halogen, xenon and the standard “general service” bulbs we all recognize. They emit light when an electric current passes through a filament and makes it glow, and burn out when that filament snaps.
<em>General Service</em>: Filaments become more fragile with use, which is one reason why the so-called “Centennial Light” still glows – it’s only been turned off a few times over its many, many, <em>many</em> years of hanging in the fire department (and even <a title="Centennial Bulb Organization" href="http://www.centennialbulb.org/photos.htm" target="_blank">has its own webcam</a> to document its stubbornness). Most standard bulbs like this one, though, only last between 750 and 1,000 hours.
<em>Halogen</em>: <a title="Halogen Light Bulbs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/halogen-bulbs_38.html" target="_blank">Halogen bulbs</a>, however, have more staying power. These bulbs’ tungsten filaments are made more durable by the chemical process that causes it to glow, giving them a life of up to 3,500 hours.
<em>Xenon</em>: While halogens are tough, <a title="Krypton and Xenon Light Bulbs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/krypton-xenon-bulbs_280.html" target="_blank">xenon bulbs</a> are the real powerhouses in the incandescent family. They are expensive and have arguably limited uses, but the most durable among them will last as many as 20,000 hours.
<strong>Fluorescent Bulbs: Gassy Gumption</strong>
<a title="Fluorescent Light Bulbs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/fluorescent-light-bulbs_37.html" target="_blank">Fluorescent light bulbs</a> create light by passing electricity through a mix of gases, producing radiant energy that is then converted into light by the bulb’s coating. It’s a neat trick that results in a long-lasting bulb at a reasonable price.
The advent of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) was a watershed moment in the bulb industry and made many more uses possible – even in place of incandescent bulbs using standard “Edison” screw sockets. Even better is that they can last up to 20,000 hours; just like xenon but with a much more pleasing light.
<strong>Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs): Filament-Less Future</strong>
<a title="LED Light Bulbs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/led-light-bulbs_1527.html" target="_blank">LEDs</a> use negatively charged semiconductors to create photons, which admittedly sounds like it was ripped right out of a <em>Star Trek</em> episode, but the process has been refined in recent years to create exceptionally versatile and long-lasting light bulbs.
How long, you ask? We’ve <a title="How Long Do LED Bulbs Really Last?" href="http://www.atgstores.com/ourblog/how-long-do-led-bulbs-really-last/" target="_blank">discussed this one in the past</a> and the answer is, again, that it depends. It must be noted that LEDs fade rather than fail outright like other bulbs and LED components are likely to fail long before the LED itself. Manufacturers who “rate” LEDs are estimating the mean time at which the average bulb will be operating at 70 percent capacity if its constituent parts remain viable. Translation: If an LED is rated for 50,000 hours it should still be operating at 70 percent of full strength after five and half years.
<a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes this helps you with how you choose your next batch of bulbs.