How LED Filament Bulbs Work

Combining classic aesthetics with modern technology

Tue Oct 16, 2018

 

If you were born before 2005, chances are you know what a filament light bulb is. Maybe not in name, but, most likely, in appearance. They’re the light bulbs that have the frosty look to them or are completely transparent. They’re in your attic, basement, and shed. They may even still be all over your house, if you’ve opted against more modern lighting. These standard lights have been around since the 1800s. Unfortunately, with time, these bulbs, particularly incandescent bulbs, are slowly being phased out of the market in favor of LED and CFL lights. But instead of being completely phased out, they’re being used in new ways. Because of this, it’s important to know where filament bulbs have come from and where they’re going now.

 

What are traditional filaments?

Traditional filaments are coiled wire (kind of like a spring) that are located inside of the glass bulb. They’re typically made from tungsten because of its high melting temperature. Tungsten’s predisposition to heat is a key factor in filament bulbs working. To prevent it from combusting at high temperatures, tungsten filaments are sealed in an oxygen-free chamber (the glass bulb). Modern filament bulbs are filled with inert gases, like nitrogen or argon, in order to reduce the loss of tungsten, protecting it.

Electric currents are sent through a resistive material (filament). Heat is created as a result, which, as stated previously, is the key to filament bulbs working. The filament is heated up to high temperatures, causing it to glow. This process of heating the filament which then emits a light is known as incandescence, hence the name. In short, filaments produce the light you see and use in a light bulb. Unfortunately, because of this process, filament bulbs only produce 10% light and 90% heat. This means it costs more to use it than the actual use the consumer would get out of it.

 

LED filament bulbs

So far, only filaments present in incandescent bulbs have been mentioned, but filaments aren’t just limited to those kind of lights. They’re also used in the lights that are partially responsible for phasing them out: LED. LED filament bulbs are meant to resemble their predecessor in that small LED emitters are arranged similarly to filaments in incandescent bulbs. These emitters are then powered using a glass insulated circuit similar to that found in an incandescent bulb. Because they’re LED, they use very little electricity, making them more efficient than their traditional counterpart. Like incandescent bulbs, they come in many shapes and sizes, making them versatile in their usage around your home or work place.

 

Advantages of LED filament bulbs

LED filaments produce a light that has a minimum CRI of 80, while its color temperature can be upwards of 6500k. This makes them perfect for areas that need a lot of light and immense clarity. LED filament bulbs last for approximately 15,000 to 40,000 hours which is less than regular LED bulbs, but is more than standard filament bulbs. In addition to that, while LED filament bulbs are more expensive to produce, and thus more expensive to buy, because they last so long, the cost evens itself out over time.

While all lights might not be created as equal, they’re still important. Filament bulbs are slowly being phased out, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be used in new ways. LED filament bulbs show that we can incorporate the past into the future.