Lighting Your Home Takes a Hi Tech Turn
Since the time that humans first discovered fire, artificial lighting has become an engrained part of the human experience. From prehistoric times until the start of the Industrial Revolution, open flame remained the sole source of artificial lighting. Even the incandescent light bulb has remained a lighting standard for well over one hundred years. Technology has propelled lighting into a new era with more to come.
The humble gaslight was a vast improvement over what had been the use of candles and oil lamps. Candles burned away and oil lamps needed to be refilled. The availability of natural gas made lighting more of a convenience and less of a chore. While it is true that gaslights needed to be turned off and on, the convenience combined with its drastically lower cost, made gaslights very practical. One problem that took time to overcome was the presence of impurities in the gas and several methods of filtering and purification were developed.
The lighting of public streets became common during the eighteen hundreds with natural gas eventually being supplied to private homes. The availability of natural gas grew throughout the eighteen hundreds and so did its application as a lighting source. The use of gaslights would continue until another very important technological development that would change our lives in ways beyond just lighting our homes and streets.
We have come a long way since the days of the gaslight. The incandescent light bulb and the modern fluorescent light are just some of the ways lighting, both interior and exterior has advanced. In recent years, the emphasis has been on reducing energy consumption without sacrificing quality and output. As the cost of energy rises, that has been a move towards developing high tech approaches and solutions to illuminating our homes. Beyond the financial cost of electricity, many people feel that there are serious environment reasons for reducing our energy consumption.
The early nineteen hundreds saw the introduction of electric lighting though it would be many decades before electricity found its way into rural America.
City dwellers in America took the availability of electricity for granted. Meanwhile on farms and in many small towns, reliable old standbys like oil lamps and gaslights were in use until the middle of the twentieth century. The creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority made electrification of rural America a reality for millions of people. Electric lighting became widespread but the basic technology would no change for quite some time.
Much of the household lighting in world still relies on the incandescent light bulb. The technology of incandescence has not change much over the years. The basics rely on passing an electrical current through a metal filament. In order for the filament to glow, it must be in the gas filled vacuum of the bulb. Even though manufacturers have tried to design light bulbs that lasted longer or were more efficient, there are significant limits to incandescent technology.
Fluorescent lighting is quickly overtaking the incandescent bulb as the standard for interior and exterior lighting. Fluorescent lights are known for producing more usable light while consuming less electricity. The savings has been shown to be significant since fluorescents consume only about twenty five percent of the electricity used by a comparable incandescent light. In this age of higher costs, the savings have shown to be very important in making the case for switching to fluorescent lighting.
Low voltage outdoor lighting has long been a popular component of landscape design. Low voltage lighting has also undergone significant design changes of the last few years. Once dependent on the incandescent bulb, many LV lights use light emitting diodes or LEDs. Light emitting diodes are solid state lighting devices that consume less power. Long used in critical aerospace applications such as cabin lighting in spacecraft, LEDs can last a very time in rugged environments, making them a great choice for outdoor lighting.
Advances in lighting technology will continue at a much faster pace, driven by issues such as cost, quality and impacts on the environment. When making lighting choices for your home think ahead, and be sure to consider the long term cost.