LED bulbs have emerged as the ‘next big thing’ in the lighting world.
Renowned for their longevity and remarkable energy savings, LED bulbs have become the lighting choice for many households and industries all over the globe.
However, many people still do not know exactly how they work!
In this article, we delve deep into the inner workings of LED bulbs to uncover the truth behind how they work. We’ll discuss:
- Whether LED bulbs have gas in them
- How LED lights work
- Why certain bulbs contain gas.
Let’s get into it!
- Do LED Bulbs Have Gas In Them?
- How LED Bulbs Work, and Why They Don’t Need Gas
- Types of Bulbs Filled with Gas
- Why Noble Gases are Used in Bulbs
Do LED Bulbs Have Gas In Them?
To put it simply: No, LED bulbs do not have gas inside them.
LEDs work differently from older bulbs that require gas to produce light. Instead of using gas, LED bulbs use tiny electronic components to create light.
Because they do not need any gas or heat, they are safe, energy efficient, and last for remarkable periods of time.
How LED Bulbs Work, and Why They Don’t Need Gas
LED bulbs do not need gas to operate. Instead, they work using a principle called electroluminescence.
LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, work by passing an electrical current through a microchip — eventually emitting a light we can see. There is no need for the gas-filled envelope that is used in many other traditional incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes.
In other words, LEDs contain components that emit energy in the form of light when a voltage (or electrical current) is applied to them.
Ultimately, the result is bulbs that are more efficient, longer-lasting, and environmentally friendly compared to older lighting technologies that rely on gasses and high temperatures to run!
Types of Bulbs Filled with Gas
Most traditional bulbs require gasses to operate. Modern LED bulbs are one of the first lighting innovations that do not rely on any gasses.
Incandescent Bulbs (Argon Gas)
Incandescent bulbs work by utilizing a wire filament made of a tungsten metal. This wire filament becomes extremely hot when electricity flows through it. At these high temperatures, the filament glows — ultimately producing light.
To protect the filament from burning out too quickly, incandescent bulbs contain a small amount of argon gas. Because the filament is heated to up to 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, it is at risk of burning when it comes in contact with air.
However, filling the bulb with argon gas creates a protective atmosphere inside the bulb – meaning the filament is shielded from the oxygen in the surrounding air. This stops the bulb from oxidizing and allows it to last longer.
Halogen Bulbs (Iodine and Bromine Gas)
Halogen bulbs work in a similar way to halogen bulbs. However, halogen bulbs contain iodine and bromine gas instead of argon gas to slow the burning of the filament.
Like incandescent bulbs, electricity flows through the tungsten filament — heating it to very high temperatures to produce light.
The halogen gas, like argon, keeps the filament from burning out quickly by shielding it from the combined oxidizing effect of oxygen and high temperatures. This ensures that the bulb lasts a longer amount of time.
Vapor Lamps and Fluorescent Tubes (Mercury)
Vapor lamps work a little differently to incandescent and halogen bulbs.
Vapor lamps and fluorescent tubes that use mercury work by directly exciting the mercury vapor. Exciting the mercury vapor causes it to give off an ultraviolet (UV) light that is invisible to us.
However, the inside surface of the lamp is coated with a phosphor material, which creates visible light when the UV rays from the mercury hit it.
The color of the light depends on the specific phosphor used; some mercury vapor lamps produce a bluish light, while others have a greenish or white light.
In simple terms, mercury vapor lamps work by exciting mercury vapor with electricity. It is the phosphor coating that ultimately turns the resulting UV light into visible light.
Vapor Lamps and Fluorescent Tubes (Sodium)
Sodium lights are very common and are often used in street lighting and other outdoor applications.
Vapor lamps and fluorescent tubes that use sodium gas work in a similar way to bulbs that use mercury.
However, mercury vapor lamps also need to use a phosphor coating to convert UV light into visible light (whereas sodium lamps do not). Sodium vapor lamps emit light directly from the excited sodium gas.
These bulbs produce a distinctive warm color due to the unique emission of yellow-orange light by the excited sodium gas.
Why Noble Gases are Used in Bulbs
Noble gasses are used in bulbs for their unique chemical inertness (which means they are non-reactive). This is useful for a number of reasons:
- Noble gasses help preserve the filament in incandescent bulbs by creating a chamber where the heated components of the bulb are not in contact with oxygen.
Without the use of a noble gas, the tungsten filament that gets heated in some bulbs would quickly oxidize and burn out
- In certain bulbs (such as fluorescent bulbs), noble gasses help to aid in ionization — making it easier for the lamp to produce UV light. This makes them more effective than without the use of a gas
- Noble gasses can also be used in other types of gas-discharge lamps, such as neon signs. Certain noble gasses can produce distinct and colorful emissions when electrically excited.
LED bulbs are an excellent, cost-effective way to light up your home! Their increasing popularity can be attributed to the fact that they are bright, great for the environment, and— you guessed it — don’t require toxic gasses to operate.
Although noble gasses are important for the running of other bulbs such as incandescent bulbs, vapor lamps, and fluorescent tubes, they are not needed for LED lamps.
LED lamps instead use electricity that gets sent through the Light Emitting Diodes to glow — producing a safe, long-lasting light.