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How Do Lights Work?

How Do Lights Work?

Posted by Chris Johnson on Aug 18th 2015

If you never thought about it before, finding all the sources that require electricity to run our daily lives may surprise you a tad bit. From the first day that Benjamin Franklin experimented with electricity; scientist like Michael Faraday and Thomas Edison made it possible for us to use electricity as we do today. These scientists took the basic concept of Benjamin Franklin's electricity idea and elaborated on it, making electricity an important commodity in our modern times.

However, if it wasn't for the fact that Franklin experimented and had the interest back in the 17th century, having a power source to turn on lights, play computer games, listen to music and watch TV in the 21st century may not have come into existence. Can you imagine being without your electronics if there was no power source to run them? Today, people go crazy when the power lines are out of order because the source affects our daily lives. It makes you wonder what our lives would be like today if electrical experiments weren't performed or thought of in the past.

One of the most dramatic aspects of electricity is how it allows us to have modern light inside and outside our homes, which is a far cry from the time when people read books by candlelight; as in the days of Abraham Lincoln. We have gone beyond tapers, oil lamps and lanterns in modern society; advancing into the use of fluorescent and incandescent lighting in our homes, schools and places of employment. When it comes to flipping on a switch to brighten a room or an area, we have choices to consider, because lighting today not only offer different wattages, you can choose from standard, energy saving and lifetime hour bulbs. With the features offered today, we can choose bulbs that last longer, are more efficient, durable and come minus the mercury danger as in the traditional light bulbs of the past.

When we think of light bulbs, like fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs for example, each one of these bulbs has a different method or way of producing their glow of light. For instance, the incandescent bulbs must have heat, which is caused by an electrical current running through it. This current passes through a wire, when the wire heats up and becomes very hot, it begins to glow causing it to emit light. With the fluorescent bulb, the mechanism that causes it to light up is the argon gas. Again, electrical currents are necessary because the current must pass through the gas, which consists of atoms. These atoms pick up energy that radiates into ultra-violet rays. Since the fluorescent lamp is a glass tube lined with phosphor, the UV comes in contact with the phosphor, causing it to heat, glow and produce the emission of light. The difference between these two bulbs is the fact that fluorescent lights do not need high temperatures to produce light and most of its energy is radiated into light. With the incandescent light fixture, you get more heat than you do light.

In modern society today and in our homes, there are three basic lighting fixtures that give the glow to a particular room or area. These lighting types are ambient lighting, task lighting and the accent light. You will find ambient lighting in such things as chandeliers, track lighting, ceiling lights and wall lighting fixtures. Ambient lighting is the primary lighting source in a room, because the emitted light though bright does not produce a glare. The task light is used when doing such things as homework, or reading because it gives just enough light to see while you are working on a particular task. A task light can be a portable lamp, a desk lamp, recessed track lighting or under the counter lighting, for when you are in the kitchen making a snack. The task light should be bright enough without causing eye strain. The accent light used in and around the home does nothing more than add drama in a room, putting an accent on items of interest or an eye catching vocal point in the room. Such things to accentuate are gorgeous plants, expensive artwork, or elaborate outdoor landscape. For the accent light, the main vocal point on display must have 3 times as much light shining on it then any other item in the room. To achieve this affect, it is recommended to use track lighting and mounted picture lights.

Because of Edison's work on the discovery of electricity, he was able to take his work from the lighting rod to opening the first direct current station for transmitting electricity. This energy station or supplier of energy began with Niagara Falls in 1895. Generators were used to supply the energy to towns nearby.

Life changed for people after electrical lamps replaced oil lamps and candles. Work days changed from daylight hours to working around the clock in shifts. This new situation caused people to have both work and leisure time after the sun had set. With the invention of electrical lamps, natural sunlight became a supplemental source of light and light bulbs became a necessity that people could not live without.

We've come a long way since the discovery of electricity and the use of light bulbs to add brightness to our home's interior. It seems as time changes, new rules and regulations are put into place to better our lives. So it is with lighting. As consumers, today we are paying attention to energy efficient lighting and we are taking pride in being able to reduce our energy consumption without giving up quality and convenience. Remember, to help do this, you must always turn off lights when they are not in use and use the lowest wattage bulb for all your lighting needs.

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