A cathodoluminescent light has a transparent glass envelope coated on the inside with a light-emitting phosphor layer. Electrons emitted from a cathode strike the phosphor; the current returns through a transparent conductive coating on the envelope. The phosphor layer emits light through the transparent face of the envelope. The system has a power supply providing at least five thousand volts to the light emitting device, and the electrons transiting from cathode to anode are essentially unfocused. Additional circuits allow triac-type dimmers to control the light level. Lights produced so far have a color rendering index of 85. The energy consumption can be 70% less than that of a standard incandescent light bulb. Lifetimes can be as long as 10,000 hours, i.e. up to five times longer than that of an incandescent light bulb.