The average life of a normal incandescent light bulb is around 1,000 hours (a month and a half of continuous operation approximately), while the low-power or fluorescent lamps (as neon) can reach 10,000 hours (14 months). Anyway, we do not tend to think that a bulb can operate for many years, but this is happened and in the Guinness Book of Records are also mentioned some centenary bulbs!
The longest lived bulb, as is clear from the archives of the local newspapers, was donated in 1901 by the owner of the Livermore Power & Light Co. to the nearby fire station.
The bulb was built by “Shelby Electric Company” according to the canons of the time, it’s to say, handmade with carbon filament and a power of 4 Watts (about 3 candles). The lamp was switched on for the first time in 1901 in the fire station in the town of Livermore in Almeda County, California, to be used as a night lamp.
In 1903 he was taken to the new building of the firefighters to stay switched on until 1937 when it was turned off for a week, during the renovation of the barracks. For the first 75 years was connected to the traditional power line of 110 volts without generators or batteries and only in 1976, in the presence of police and by a fire truck, it was brought to the present location of “Fire Station 6, 4550 East Ave” and connected to the system (with generators 120 V), where it was turned on again and still working presently.
The light bulb has been officially recognized as the – oldest and still working bulb in the world – from the “Guinness Book of World Records” in 1972, and mentioned in the book “The World of Ripley’s – Believe-it-or-not” by Julie Mooney as well as by President Bush during a congress. The celebration of its centenary took place on Friday 8 June 2001 in the same firehouse in Livermore.
The city of Livermore is planning to let work their old bulb until the end of his days and then give it, probably, to the Ripley’s museum in Orlando (Florida), [http://www.ripleys.com/].
The office where the lamp is located, generally is always open to the public, but even if it is closed, you can see the bulb through a window on the top of the wall, or watch the video broadcasted online through a web-cam on 24 hours a day [http://www.centennialbulb.org/cam.htm].
Other lamps have been reported in the Guinness Book or are very old. The bulb present in the theater Byers in Forth Worth, Texas, then taken to the Stockyards Museum, has reached more than 100 years of operation.
A Cetinje in Belgrade it is said that since the electricity came in 1910, the oldest operating lamp is still turned on in a garage in the city. In New York, in a computer store, another lamp has been in operation since 1912, but it’s not known if still working now.
In 1930, in a bathroom of the firm Martin & Newby Electrical Shop in Ipswitch (England), a light bulb has been turned on for 100 years before it burnt out. Then also the building was demolished to make room for new others.
Another bulb, which can be traced, has been working since 1926 in a firehouse in Mangum Oklahoma, even if it was treated as a regular light bulb by turning on and off it at the occasion.
What is the success of such longevity!
The build quality in the first place, with a carbon filament in a very robust glass container, certainly better than the ones built nowadays. Then the low output power and at least, the fact that the lamp is always on (not subject to off-on trauma).
I believe that nowadays, if all the lamps were constructed as a time and so long-lived, all manufacturers of bulbs would fail within a few years!
This speech, of course, applies to all electrical devices built in recent times. Also if the “poorest quality” and the serial construction should be offset by a lower cost, but alas, unfortunately it is not.
Strangely, the new energy saving light bulbs, which have been advertised as the best lamps in terms of power consumption and longer live, seem to have a shorter service life than conventional tungsten bulbs, though they cost a lot more. At least this is what happens at my house. Therefore, where is the convenience or the value for money?