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How Do Incandescent Lights Work?

It’s easy to take the light bulbs that illuminate our homes for granted. But have you ever wondered, “How does an incandescent bulb work?”

Incandescent bulbs have been around since the days of Thomas Edison. Although they’re currently being phased out in favor of more efficient lighting solutions such as LEDs, CFLs, and halogens, there are still plenty of people who prefer incandescent bulbs for their warm, sun-like light quality.

How Incandescent Light Works

At its core, an incandescent light bulb is simply a controlled burn, producing light in much the same way as a candle or fireplace. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but this is essentially what happens:

  1. Electric current flows into the bulb
  2. The electricity heats up the metal ‘wire’ part (filament) inside the bulb that conducts electricity
  3. The filament gets so hot that it glows red or white, producing light

How These Bulbs Keep Glowing

So you may also be wondering, how does an incandescent bulb work for so long? How are filaments able to burn for 8,000 - 12,000 hours without the lamp overheating or melting?

If the bulb itself was filled with oxygen, the combustion process would cause the lamp to overheat rapidly. However, incandescent bulbs are actually filled with gases such as nitrogen or argon. In short, these gases make it difficult for the filament to burn, slowing the process and harnessing the energy long-term.

The problem with incandescent bulbs is that roughly 95 percent of the energy used to keep the light running is wasted as heat.  LEDs are an increasingly popular option because they bypass the heat phase, turning electrical current into light directly. That’s why LEDs are so much more energy-efficient, not to mention cooler to the touch.

Shop Incandescent Bulbs Today

Now that you know how an incandescent bulb works, why not stock up on them? Although government regulations are phasing out incandescent lights, retailers are still allowed to sell their existing inventories. Atlanta Light Bulbs carries a wide variety of  incandescent lighting solutions, including antique light bulbs and colored light bulbs.

If you would like more information about how incandescent light works, please don’t hesitate to call our in-house lighting experts at 1-888-988-2852, email  help@atlantalightbulbs.com, fill out our contact form, or click the live chat button below. Illuminate your life with the warm glow of incandescent lighting!


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