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A bulb with ‘a million hours of service’ is burning since last 121 years | Know all about it

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Lucknow: World’s longest-lasting light bulb, the ‘Centennial Light’ is burning since 1901, and almost never switched off. Installed at 4550 East Avenue, Livermore, California, and maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, the bulb has been noted by ‘The Guinness Book of World Records’,Ripley’s Believe It or Not!’, and General Electric for its longevity. Let us tell you all about this historic bulb: 

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This hand-blown, carbon-filament common light bulb – invented by a French engineer Adolphe Chaillet for his company Shelby Electric – has been burning since 1901 and has not deteriorated till date. It was manufactured in Shelby, Ohio, by the Shelby Electric Company in the late 1890s. The secret behind its longitivtiy is that unlike the common bulb that run on Tungsten filament, a carbon filament was used in this bulb.

Bulb was off the grid for 22 minutes

Originally a 30-watt or 60-watt bulb, the Centennial Light is now very dim, emitting about the same light as a 4-watt nightlight. Records suggest, the bulb has been hung in at least four locations. It initially illuminated a hose cart house on L Street, in 1901; then moved to a garage in downtown Livermore used by the fire and police departments. When the fire department consolidated, it was moved again to a newly constructed City Hall that housed the unified department and hence in 1976, it reached its current location. During this transfer, it was deprived of electricity for only 22 minutes as it was put in a specially designed box, with full firetruck escort. An electrician was on hand to install the bulb into the new fire station’s emergency generator.

Earlier, it had only been off the grid for short periods of time (e.g. a week in 1937 for a renovation and the odd power outage). However, as per Ripley’s Believe It Or Not that this short delay would not mar the bulb’s continuous burning record. In 2001, the bulb’s 100th birthday was celebrated.

Object of attraction

Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the most durable light” in 1972, the Centennial Light has also been a subject of many scientific researches. Even after so many studies no one could tell how it has been illuminating for so many years. To protect this bulb, there are cameras all around the Livermore fire station. Many documentaries and serials have also been made on this. In 2014, it was celebrated for setting a record of burning for 1 lakh hours continuously.

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