PNG images: Light-bulb

An electric light is a device that produces visible light from electric current. It is the most common form of artificial lighting and is essential to modern society, providing interior lighting for buildings and exterior light for evening and nighttime activities. In technical usage, a replaceable component that produces light from electricity is called a lamp. Compact lamps are commonly called light bulbs; for example, the incandescent light bulb. Lamps usually have a base made of ceramic, metal, glass or plastic, which secures the lamp in the socket of a light fixture. The electrical connection to the socket may be made with a screw-thread base, two metal pins, two metal caps or a bayonet cap.

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The three main categories of electric lights are incandescent lamps, which produce light by a filament heated white-hot by electric current, gas-discharge lamps, which produce light by means of an electric arc through a gas, and LED lamps, which produce light by a flow of electrons across a band gap in a semiconductor.

Before electric lighting became common in the early 20th century, people used candles, gas lights, oil lamps, and fires. Humphry Davy developed the first incandescent light in 1802, followed by the first practical electric arc light in 1806. By the 1870s, Davy's arc lamp had been successfully commercialised, and was used to light many public spaces. The development of a steadily glowing filament suitable for interior lighting took longer, but by the early twentieth century inventors had successfully developed options, replacing the arc light with incandescents.

The energy efficiency of electric lighting has increased radically since the first demonstration of arc lamps and the incandescent light bulb of the 19th century. Modern electric light sources come in a profusion of types and sizes adapted to many applications. Most modern electric lighting is powered by centrally generated electric power, but lighting may also be powered by mobile or standby electric generators or battery systems. Battery-powered light is often reserved for when and where stationary lights fail, often in the form of flashlights, electric lanterns, and in vehicles.

Solid state LEDs have been popular as indicator lights in consumer electronics and professional audio gear since the 1970s. In the 2000s efficacy and output have risen to the point where LEDs are now being used in lighting applications such as car headlights and brakelights, in flashlights and bike lights, as well as in decorative applications such as holiday lighting. Indicator LEDs are known for their extremely long life, up to 100,000 hours, but lighting LEDs are operated much less conservatively, and consequently have shorter lives. LED technology is useful for lighting designers because of its low power consumption, low heat generation, instantaneous on/off control, and in the case of single color LEDs, continuity of color throughout the life of the diode and relatively low cost of manufacture. LED lifetime depends strongly on the temperature of the diode. Operating an LED lamp in conditions that increase the internal temperature can greatly shorten the lamp's life.

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