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Thomas Edison will never be forgotten and his incandescent lightbulb will always stand as a testament to human ingenuity, but contemporary light fixtures and lighting design allow for the use of different kinds of lightbulbs.

“The incandescent light bulb has been around since the late 1800s, but the venerable technology’s dominance seems just about over,” National Geographic reported. “On January 1, 2014, in keeping with a law passed by Congress in 2007, the old familiar tungsten-filament 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in the U.S., because they don’t meet federal energy-efficiency standards.”

The Next Generation in Lighting

If you need to change the lightbulb in today’s contemporary light fixtures – from bath lighting to designer exterior lighting and contemporary chandeliers – you will be using a CFL lightbulb or, perhaps, an LED bulb. With either, you won’t need to change them nearly as often as you did their incandescent precursors.

“By the late 1920s and early 1930s, European researchers were doing experiments with neon tubes coated with phosphors (a material that absorbs ultraviolet light and converts the invisible light into useful white light). These findings sparked fluorescent lamp research programs in the U.S., and by the mid and late 1930s, American lighting companies were demonstrating fluorescent lights to the U.S. Navy and at the 1939 New York World’s Fair,” the Department of Energy says. “These lights lasted longer and were about three times more efficient than incandescent bulbs. The need for energy-efficient lighting American war plants led to the rapid adoption of fluorescents, and by 1951, more light in the U.S. was being produced by linear fluorescent lamps.”

The need for energy conservation continued to drive innovation. “It was another energy shortage — the 1973 oil crisis — that caused lighting engineers to develop a fluorescent bulb that could be used in residential applications,” the Department of Energy says.

In the 1970s, Edward Hammer at General Electric created the first compact fluorescent light (CFL) by bending the fluorescent tube into a spiral shape. While they were more energy efficient, until fairly recently, the price of CFLs was a deterrent to their use. Now, according to the Department of Energy, “Nearly 30 years after CFLs were first introduced on the market, an ENERGY STAR® CFL costs as little as $1.74 per bulb when purchased in a four-pack.”

For more information on fluorescent lighting and other options in designer home lighting, feel free to contact your friends at Sculpta Contemporary Lighting.

For most people in the United States, any discussion of interior lighting is in effect a discussion about decorative lighting or at the very least it’s a discussion of lighting design. Of course, that wasn’t always the case.

One hundred years ago, much of the country was still in the dark. In fact, in 1925 – less than 100 years ago – only half the homes in this country had electricity, according to the National Park Service, which runs the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey.

Electrifying the Country

There was no power grid to plug into when Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb back in the 1870s. Edison used generators to power the interior lighting he had installed in very limited locations. Edison might have been a genius when it came to his innovation inventions, but he was a lousy businessman. It was his young assistant, an Englishman with a heavy Cockney accent named Samuel Insull, who provided the business acumen needed to lay the foundation for a profitable system of delivering electricity to American homes.

“On September 4, 1882, Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York opened a power plant on Pearl Street in Manhattan. Six coal-fired dynamos, each weighing 27 tons, made the steam that powered a grid a mile square,” HistoryNet tells us. “Insull had been integral to persuading city officials, sometimes with bribes, to approve the project, which needed to bury 100,000 feet of wire.”

The Pearl Street Station was the beginning of a massive transformation. Soon a tapestry of privately owned municipal utility companies blanketed the country. By the 1920s, the lights were going on in most of the nation’s cities and towns from coast to coast, but American’s rural communities lagged far behind.

“Running wires into the countryside where there might be only a few people per square mile seemed uneconomical for either investors or tax-payers,” the Smithsonian Museum of American History reports. “By 1932 only about 10% of rural America was electrified, and about half of those people had to buy their own country-home power plants. This electrical divide fueled the difference in standards of living between city and farm, hampering rural Americans’ ability to participate in the life of their modernizing country.”

The Smithsonian Museum of American History says, “World War II interrupted the work of the REA [Rural Electrification Administration]. When President Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Bill in September 1944, Roosevelt said, ‘From the point of view of raising the living standards of rural America and providing a more efficient form of farm management, one of the most important projects interrupted by the war is the extension of rural electrification.’”

It wasn’t until the war was over that the electrification of the country was completed. So you see it is only relatively recently that people have developed an interest in decorative lighting. For most of the 20th century, the most important aspect of interior lighting was simply getting the lights turned on!