How LED Lighting Has Evolved

Over the years, lighting has changed just like any other type of technology. From incandescent bulbs to modern LED lights, below, we explore the evolution therein.

When Was The Incandescent Lightbulb Invented?

Even though Thomas Edison is heavily credited with having invented the first lightbulb, the truth is it stretches further back than that. Alessandro Volta, an Italian inventor, created the first practical means of creating electricity. His invention is considered to be the predecessor of batteries as we know them today, but those copper wires creating the “Voltaic Pile” is thought to be one of the first instances of incandescent lights.

From there, other scientists were able to play around with electric currents to eventually lead them to the creation of the first lightbulb. It came about when Thomas Edison detected a flaw in the latest version of the light bulb created by the chemist Joseph Swan. From there, he was able to create the very first practical incandescent light bulb. Edison secured a patent in 1879 that then allowed his team to move forward creating carbonized bamboo filaments capable of burning for over 1,200 hours.


How Does an Incandescent Light Bulb Work?

An incandescent lightbulb is essentially a controlled fire that is put on display. In essence, it is a tungsten filament that is encased in a glass enclosure. When the base of the bulb and its filament come into contact with electrical current, electricity heats the tungsten filament that is found within. As the filament begins to heat up, light that is produced by heat is created. This is known as “incandescence.” While the filament burns, the particles fly from it until there are no more particles left for burning. Then, the light will burn out. This usually happens between 800 and 1200 hours after the incandescent bulb lights up for the first time.

halogen fluorescent and LED lightbulbs

When Was The Fluorescent Light Bulb Invented?

In the 1890s, Thomas Edison tested a fluorescent lighting prototype. Though it was successful originally, it was good for only a short time of illumination. It was mercury vapor lamps that actually heralded their success and subsequent widespread use. In the 1890s, Peter Cooper Hewitt created a kind of lamp that used glass tubing, which later became what fluorescent bulbs were modelled after. The light used gas instead of electricity like incandescent bulbs did.

In 1926, fluorescent lights moved to the front of the illumination line through a man named Jacques Risler. Risler coated the inside of a mercury lamp’s glass tubing with fluorescence, and though it remained a mercury lamp at its heart, it was the first step in the direction of true fluorescent lighting. In 1934, the first fluorescent light to be commercially produced came about. These quickly became the main source of lighting in many businesses due to their brightness, long-lasting nature and comparative cost effectiveness.


How Does a Fluorescent Lightbulb Work?

At the heart of a fluorescent light is tubes. The tube has a bit of mercury and some kind of inert gas under low pressure trapped inside of the sealed glass tube. Usually, this gas is argon. There is an electrode at each end of the tube that it wired to an electrical circuit and phosphor powder lining the inside of the glass.

When the lamp is switched on, the current moves through it to the electrodes. Electrons will move through the gas from one side of the tube to the other. When this happens, some of the mercury in the glass tube turns into a gas. Charged atoms and electrons move through the space and collide with the mercury. This in turn causes them to release light protons as they return to their original energy levels.


When Were Halogen Light Bulbs Invented?

Ever since the first fluorescent bulb was invented, inventors were looking for a way to make a similar light that would give off brighter light, last longer and be an energy-saving and power-saving alternative. In 1882, the use of chlorine to stop the lamp from turning black was patented. It wasn’t until 1959 that General Electric secured a patent that used iodine as the halogen gas. This made it more commercially available, and this propelled its popularity.


How Do Halogen Light Bulbs Work?

A halogen light bulb is a kind of incandescent bulb that contains a little bit of halogen gas. This is usually bromine or iodine, and it serves as the atmosphere in the aluminosilicate or quartz bulb. It has a filament not unlike the one in an incandescent bulb, though the lamp is a lot smaller with the same amount of wattage. It also, as mentioned, has halogen gas in it. The halogen prevents the bulb from blackening over time while also slowing down the tungsten filament’s inevitable thinning. This makes the bulb last longer and produces more light by reaching higher temperatures.

As the gas moves from the filament and the filament begins to thin, the filament will eventually break in a fluorescent light. In a halogen bulb, the tungsten atoms will instead unite at a chemical level with the halogen gas molecules, so when the halogen cools down, the tungsten goes back to the filament in a process that is known as the halogen cycle. The process emits ample light during this time.


Are Old-style Light Bulbs Being Phased Out For LED Replacements?

Over time as light bulbs continued to evolve for the better, older lights have begun to fall to the wayside. It was clear from the start that the beginning of this shift could be accredited to the fact that energy-saving LED lighting was simply a better option for the environment. Halogen lighting is slowly being banned in many places, including the United Kingdom. These bans are being put in place as a part of the ongoing fight to combat climate change.

In 2018, the UK started to phase out halogen bulbs, with the expectation that switching from halogen bulbs to LED lights can cut out 1.26 million tonnes of CO2. This is the same as picking up half a million automobiles and removing them from the planet, thus significantly reducing the carbon footprint of lighting methods. As a part of the EU’s Ecodesign Directive, no new CFL bulbs are being produced. This has been in place since 1 September 2021. The plan is to ultimately phase them out entirely, leaving primarily the environmentally friendly LED bulb in place.

Besides their energy-saving and, therefore, money-saving benefits, LED lights come with a suite of other benefits that have made them more appealing over the years.

Image showing different types of LED light bulbs

When Was The LED Light Bulb Invented?

Most people are under the impression that the LED light is an invention from the 21st century, but the fact is that LED light came to be in 1927. Ever since their invention, they have been constantly developing and shifting with the times. Many people around the world can be credited with assisting in the creation of LED light as we know it today in our LED wall lights, LED downlights and other interior lighting. You will also see them in outdoor wall lighting and other types of outdoor lighting.

Though the first reports of LED lights came about in 1927 by a Russian inventor, it was refined frequently throughout the following decades. In 1958, the first green LED was created, followed by the first red LED on the visible spectrum in 1962. LEDs were used by IBM on their circuit boards in the earliest computers, and Hewlett Packard began incorporating them into their calculators.

As they became more widespread and were tweaked over time, eventually, a pair of physicists came up with the first white LED with high brightness in 1993. White LEDs became available for commercial use in 2002, and from there, they became the popular, common lighting option that they are today.


How Much Energy Can You Save By Using LED Lights?

Swapping out old light bulbs for energy-saving LED lights is a no-brainer once you understand just how much energy and therefore money is being saved. Because LED lights use significantly less energy, they are gentler on the environment. Each traditional bulb you change to an equivalently bright LED light will save up to 5kg of CO2. By replacing all of the bulbs in a traditional house with LEDs, you are looking at a reduction of 63kg of CO2 emissions.

In the UK, lighting makes up at least 15 percent of the electricity bill in a typical household. You can save £2-3 annually for each LED bulb you install in place of a halogen bulb. If the typical household in the UK traded all of their halogen bulbs for LEDs, it could save around £40 per year. Switching out an LED equivalent of a 50-watt halogen bulb can cut down energy costs by £75 over the entire life of the bulb.

This amount doesn’t even factor in how much you will save on no longer needing to replace halogen bulbs. Though it does cost more to buy LED bulbs upfront, they cost less over time. LEDs have an average life of 20,000 hours, whereas halogen bulbs only burn for 1,000 hours. One LED bulb can be counted on to last as long as 20 halogen bulbs.

Does LED Lighting Reduce My Carbon Footprint?

LED lights consume less than 80 percent of energy when compared to the typical incandescent bulb. This on its own will bring down your carbon footprint because of the smaller amount of fossil fuels that are being burned up to generate light. LEDs also generate less heat when compared to the incandescent bulb, which releases 90 percent of its energy in heat instead. LED bulbs give only five percent of their energy to heat, while the rest becomes light.

Because LED lights also routinely last as long as 20,000 hours minimum, you will not have to replace them as often as you do halogen bulbs. This means you are contributing significantly less waste to the landfills. Beyond that, many LED lights can be recycled nowadays. The LED lights that do end up in landfills do not have any mercury in them like other lights do, so you are not polluting the ground with whatever you contribute.


Other Ways to Reduce Your Lighting Energy Use

Although LED lighting is energy saving by nature, there are even more ways you can reduce the amount of energy you use when lighting your home. Below, you will find some tips on how to do this:

  • Always switch off any lights whenever you leave a room. One of the easiest ways to reduce energy and therefore energy costs is to simply turn the lights off when you are not using them. The average household has the potential to save nearly £20 each year just by making this small change in their habits.
  • Be mindful of the number of lights you have on in any given room. If the main light is on, you likely don’t need the lamp on the table to be on, too. Try to use only as much light as you need to be comfortable. On the other hand, if you only need a small bit of task lighting, use a smaller light instead of relying on the larger overhead light.
  • Use timers and sensors. On external lighting, you can install motion detectors and similar technologies. This will ensure the lights only trigger on when you need them and will automatically turn off when you do not.
  • Use transparent shades and fittings. Dark lampshades can be more inefficient, as they absorb some of the light that is coming from the bulb.
  • Clean the fittings and lampshades regularly. Cleaning ensures you are getting the most efficient use out of each bulb.
  • Rely on more daylight. Open your curtains or blinds and let in the natural light during the day instead of turning on the lights in your home.
  • Consider repainting. Light will reflect from pale colours more easily than dark colours, as dark ones will absorb the illumination instead.


Great Examples of LED Lighting


Below are a few examples of the diversity of LED lighting that you can consider for your home:


  1. LWA431 6 Watt Round IP65 Bathroom Wall Light

LWA431 6 watt round bathroom wall light fittings

With sconces like the LWA431 6 Watt Round IP65 Bathroom Wall Light, you can use LED light to illuminate darker areas of the bathroom that other light has difficulty reaching. Their dim but effective glow also makes them great bathroom nightlights. These lights also provide the benefit of having a halo glow that shines back on the wall, which creates a more artistic effect. Their circular shape and neutral colour pallet means they work well in bathrooms of any style.


  1. LSL001 Square 1 Watt Recessed LED Wall Light

lsl001 1 watt recessed led step light staircase lighting ideas

LED lighting has become an important part of the safety features of homes and businesses. The LSL001 Square 1 Watt Recessed LED Wall Light can be recessed into a low area in the home to provide lighting on the ground. They are especially useful on staircases or landings of those stairways. This light shines a light right down onto the floor from its sleek silver backplate, square in shape and perfect for modern homes.


  1. LPL373 17 Watt LED 1300mm Linear Uplighter Pendant Light

LPL373 17 watt 1300mm long LED pendant light - Linear uplighter LED hanging pendant light

Lights like the LPL373 17 Watt LED 1300mm Linear Uplighter Pendant Light are perfect for adding industrial modern flair to a home. They are also common in businesses, as they shine light over a broader area of space. This particular pendant provides 1700 lumens of warm 3000k white light from its long, 13000-millimeter metal housing. It hangs from the ceiling, so you can place it in various locations that need dedicated lighting.


  1. CSL022 5 Watt Round Recessed LED Downlight Fitting

CSL022 5 watt LED round recessed black downlights

Recessed lighting is a decidedly modern way to add equally as modern LEDs to your home. The CSL022 5 Watt Round Recessed LED Downlight Fitting is a round LED light that is housed inside of a silver-tone shell, complete with your choice of interior colour finishes that reflect and absorb lighting in different ways. The LED light shines 430 lumens, so you can cluster them together and stylishly provide plenty of illumination.


  1. LWA371 3 Watt Brass Finish Outdoor LED Wall Light

LWA371 3 Watt polished brass garden wall light

Exterior LED wall lights can make your home or business feel safer. A well-lit exterior is also more visually appealing and can therefore improve the overall curb appeal of the space. This light has a modern cylindrical shape with a sleek gold-tone finish and frosted diffuser that adds a gentle finishing touch to the area. It shines a 3000k warm white light that is easy on the eyes while still serving as effective illumination.

Lighting has come a long way from the very first instance of artificial lighting. From incandescent bulbs to halogen lights to fluorescent to LED, the journey has been long to eventually arrive at energy-saving LEDs. Above, we have explored the various lighting types as well as how they work. We have also outlined just how LED lighting can benefit you.

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