We have been attentive to our energy consumption for some decades now. We have learned to isolate our home, turn off appliances or lights that we do not use. And concerning the latter, to equip our luminaires with low energy bulbs.
But what is it really a low energy bulb or energy saving bulb or a Low Consumption Lamp (LBC)?
Fluorescent lamps are the first low energy bulbs
In 1856, the German physicist Heinrich Geissler developed the first fluorescent tube. If the idea is there, the brightness is not at the rendezvous and the incandescent bulb invented in the same years has beautiful days in front of her!
In 1901, US engineer Peter Cooper Hewitt developed a low-pressure mercury vapor lamp. Although it is more effective than the incandescent bulbs of the time, its greenish blue light limits its use to photography. In addition, it emits harmful UV rays for the skin.
In 1926, it was up to the engineers Edmund Germer, Friedrich Meyer and Hans Spanner to improve the color of the light by lining the inside of the tube with a thin layer of phosphor fluorescence powder.
Ten years later, at the World's Fair in Paris, the German manufacturer Osram markets the first fluorescent tube.
In the early 1980s, the Dutch manufacturer Philips and its competitor Osram presented the first compact fluorescent bulbs.
Until the early 2000s and the rise of LED bulbs, fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent bulbs are the only low-energy alternatives compared to incandescent bulbs and incandescent halogen.
How does a fluorescent low energy bulb work?
The bulb, a tube in fact, is connected to a capacitor that generates an electric arc still called electric shock. This is why it is said to work according to the principle of discharge in a low pressure gas. The tube is in fact filled with a gas composed of mercury vapor. On its side, at the cathode of the tube, a heated tungsten filament produces electrons. These interact with mercury. It creates an ultraviolet light (UV) invisible to the naked eye. But these UV react with the layer of fluorescent phosphor powder lining the inner wall of the tube giving rise to a visible white light.
At the beginning, the fluorescent low-energy bulb was often criticized for providing too white light, too industrial. And it is true that it is especially in the industry that the fluorescent tube to find its best outlets.
But by changing the composition of the fluorescent powder, the various manufacturers have come to produce more pleasant and acceptable brightness in a home. That's why today, it has become unavoidable in our homes.
To note: Fluorescent tubes are often called neon tubes. It's actually an abuse of language. If the operating principle is the same, the neon tube owes its name to the gas that composes it: neon! In addition, a real neon tube is always red. It was invented by the chemist Georges Claude who had the idea to use this gas to produce light. In 1910, he illuminated the entrance of the motor show at the Grand Palais with 2 neon tubes of 12 m each.