Incandescent Lamps

filament, candle-power, lamp, carbon, efficiency, temperature, watts, gas and heat

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Flashing. Filaments, prepared and mounted in the manner just described, are fairly uniform in resistance, but it has been found that their quality may be much improved and their resistance very closely regulated by depositing a layer of carbon on the outside of the filament by the process of flashing. By flashing is meant heating the filament to a high temperature when immersed in a hydrocarbon gas, such as gasoline vapor, under partial vacuum. Current is passed through the filament in this process to accomplish the heating. Gas is used, rather than a liquid, to prevent too heavy a deposit of the carbon. Coal gas is not recommended because the carbon, when deposited from this, has a dull black appearance. The effects of flashing are as follows: 1. The diameter of the filament is increased by the deposited carbon and hence its resistance is decreased. The process must be discontinued when the desired resistance is reached. Any little irregu larities in the filament will be eliminated since the smaller sections, having the greater resistance, will become hotter than the remainder of the filament and the carbon is deposited more rapidly at these points.

2. The character of the surface is changed from a dull black and comparatively soft nature to a bright gray coating which is much harder and which increases the life and efficiency of the filament.

Exhausting. After flashing, the filament is sealed in the bulb and the air exhausted through the tube A in Fig. 2, which shows the lamp in different stages of its manufacture. The exhaustion is accomplished by means of mechanical air pumps, sup plemented by Sprengle or mer cury pumps and chemicals.

Since the degree of exhaustion must be high, the bulb should be heated during the process so as to drive off any gas which may cling to the glass. When chemicals are used, as is now almost universally the case, the chemical is placed in the tube A and, when heated, serves to take up much of the remain ing gas. Exhaustion is neces sary for several reasons: .

1. To avoid oxidization of the filament.

2. To reduce the heat conveyed to the globe.

3. To prevent wear on the filament due to currents or eddies in the gas.

After exhausting, the tube A is sealed off and the lamp pleted for testing by attaching the base by means of plaster of Paris. Fig. 3 shows some of the forms of completed incandescent lamps. Voltage and Candle-Power. Incandescent lamps of the carbon type vary in size from the miniature battery and candelabra lamps to those of several hundred candle-power, though the latter are very seldom used. The more common values for the candle-power are 8, 16, 25, 32, and 50, the choice of candle-power depending on the use to be made of the lamp.

The voltage will vary depending on the method of distribution of the power. For what is known as parallel distribution, 110 or 220 volts are generally used. For the higher values of the voltage, long and slender filaments must be used, if the candle-power is to be low; and lamps of less than 16 candle-power for 220-volt circuits are not practical, owing to difficulty in manufacture. For series dis tribution, a low voltage and higher current is used, hence the fila ments may be quite heavy. Battery lamps operate on from 4 to 24 volts, but the vast majority of lamps for general illumination are operated at or about 110 volts.


By the efficiency of an incandescent lamp is meant the power required at the lamp terminals per candle-power of light given. Thus, if a lamp giving an average horizontal candle-power of 16 consumes an ampere at 112 volts, the total number of watts consumed will be 112 X 1. = 56, and the watts per candle-power will be 56 - 16 = 3.5. The efficiency of such a lamp is said to be 3.5 watts per candle-power, or simply watts per candle. Watts economy is sometimes used for efficiency.

The efficiency of a lamp depends on the temperature at which the filament is run. In the ordinary lamp this temperature is between 1,280° and 1,330° C, and the curve in Fig. 4 shows the increase of efficiency with the increase of temperature. The temperature attained by a filament depends on the rate at which heat is radiated and the amount of power supplied. The rate of radiation of heat is propor tional to the area of the filament, the elevation in temperature, and the emissivity of the surface.

By emissivity is meant the number of heat units emitted from unit surface per degree rise in temperature above that of surrounding bodies. The bright surface of a flashed filament has a lower emis sivity than the dull surface of an unheated filament, hence less energy is lost in heat radiation and the efficiency of the filament is increased.

As soon as incandescence is reached, the illumination increases much more rapidly than the emission of heat, hence the increase in efficiency shown in Fig. 4. Were it not for the rapid disintegration of the carbon at high temperature, an efficiency higher than 3.1 watts could be obtained.

By a special treatment of the carbon filaments, the nature of the carbon is so changed that the filaments may be run at a higher tem perature and the lamps still have a life comparable to that of the 3.1 watt lamp. Lamps using these special carbon filaments are known as gem metallized filament lamps, or merely as gem lamps, and they will be described more fully later.

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