Edison light bulb

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Antique filament light bulbs, Edison light bulbs, and vintage light bulbs all refer to carbon- or early tungsten-filament lamps. Most of these bulbs are reproductions of the wound filament bulbs made popular by Edison Electric Light Company at the turn of the 20th century. They are easily identified by the long and complicated windings of their internal filaments, and by the very warm-yellow glow of the light they produce (many of the bulbs emit light at a color temperature of 2200-2400K).


Original carbon-filament bulb from Thomas Edison's shop in Menlo Park

Carbon filament bulbs were the first commercially viable electric light bulbs to hit the consumer market in 1882.[1] In 1904, a tungsten filament was shown[by whom?] to be more efficient and longer lasting than the carbonized bamboo filament used previously.[1] The introduction of a neutral gas to the glass envelope (or bulb) also helped to improve lifespan and brightness of the bulb.[1] To produce enough light, these lamps required the use of extremely long filaments, and remained so until the development of more efficiently wound tungsten filaments.


A glowing vintage light bulb of "ST" shape

While the intricate filament design never fully left, innovations in energy efficiency outpaced the highly inefficient design quickly. Still, 51 years after more efficient designs had come into play, “Edison-style” or vintage lights saw resurgence in restaurants wanting atmospheric lighting or vintage themes.[2]

Reproductions of the antique bulbs were started in the 1980s by Bob Rosenzweig.[2] He began selling the vintage-style light bulbs after watching a salvage operation.[2] The reproductions sold mostly to collectors and prop houses up until the turn of the 21st century when new the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) banned low-efficiency lighting in the United States. Domestic lighting shifted toward more efficient compact fluorescent lamps and LED lights, but demand for vintage bulbs also increased.[2] Edison-style light bulbs are exempted from the ban as "specialty lighting".

Modern "Edison light bulbs" are designed to replicate the same light color and bulb shape to offer a more energy-efficient version of the popular vintage reproduction bulbs. (Modern tungsten coils are already more efficient.[1][3][4]) These bulbs also maintain the same “exposed” look to further preserve the vintage reproduction style,[5] and often employ the "ST" long-pear bulb shape for the same reason. The desire for more efficient reproductions has led to the development of LED filament bulbs, which recreate the appearance of multiple light-emitting filaments within the glass envelope. LED filament bulbs are substantially more energy-efficient and produce less heat.[6]

Form factors[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Matulka, Rebecca. "The History of the Light Bulb". ENERGY.GOV. U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Cardwell, Diane. "When Out to Dinner, Don't Count the Watts". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  3. ^ Wells, Quentin (2012), Smart Grid Home, p. 163, ISBN 1111318514, retrieved 8 November 2012
  4. ^ "60 Watt - Edison Bulb - 5.2 in. Length - Vintage Light Bulb". 1000bulbs. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  5. ^ Neilson, Laura. "Hey, Restaurant Designers: There Are Now Edison-Style LED Light Bulbs". www.foodrepublic.com. Food Republic. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Classic LED filament lamps for decorative lighting". Philips Lighting. Retrieved September 5, 2017.