The Carbon Arc Lamp


The Carbon Arc Lamp, the first form of electric light. 1800 Ok, here we have my carbon arc lamp, that I am slowly restoring, this is Thomson These lamps were used before incandescent lighting, they are just two carbon rods that touch together when you put current to them, a magnet would separate them, and it would form an arc between them, just like in a mercury vapor or metal halide lamp in fact the light they put out is very similar to an MH or Mercury Vapor, its a very bright purplish-white light They were used for street lighting, industrial, indoor lighting. And they were being made even when incandescent light was around. They still used them because incandescent lamps couldn’t put out enough light, same as today, where streetlights use high pressure sodium which puts out a lot more light than incandescent and it’s an “arc” lightsource, the arc lights were the HPSs of the 1800s. They produced a lot of light which an incandescent couldn’t do and they used relatively little power to do it. The arc lamp was king up until the 1920s in England they used them up until the 1960s and 70s so arc lamps were with us quite a while even though it was the first light source These are some of the internal parts, this is the frame that goes down under here, and this is where your arc actually goes, your carbon rods These are some of the windings from the coils inside, which are shot, I will have to redo them. and this is the ballast piece of insulation material here, and this is the ballast or choke coil the wires are right down to bare copper so it’s going to have to be rewound, basically it’s an HID lightsource High Intensity Discharge, just that it does the arc through air instead of through a (enclosed) gas or metallic vapor 1800: Alessandro Volta invents the first battery 1802 Discovery of the carbon arc 1840s Mechanical feed device for the carbon rod The first good power source Power regulation, use of multiple lights on one AC power system and first commercial success Commercial explosion of electric light in the world Charles Brush improved all parts of the lamp system Golden age of the arc lamp The carbon arc lamp was replaced by the xenon arc lamp (1950s)

22 comments

  • EdisonTechCenter

    Im moving videos off of our old video channel and to this one, so you may have seen this one before.

    Reply
  • randacnam7321

    Incandescent lamps were (and to a certain extent still are) used for street lighting applications.

    Reply
  • CampKohler

    You say Volta's battery was the first in the western world, which implies that there was a perhaps an earlier battery in the eastern world. What was the latter?

    Reply
  • EdisonTechCenter

    The Bagdad battery may or may not have been the first. Also there was talk of ability to build capacitors in ancient Egypt, so we will not discount these completely.

    Reply
  • Wen Wei Wong

    The picture of Vasily Petrov is actually wrong, it should be Laplace.

    Reply
  • Irish2007

    what was the old channel called

    Reply
  • stu460

    well explained..excellent

    Reply
  • Zen Jon

    I would bet someone 100$ the piece of insulation is asbestos…any takers? Be careful, Mr. DeLair!

    Reply
  • Next2normal NZ

    used them in late 70s on the littlejohn camera, they had lots of flouride in them,about 15% or more

    Reply
  • Charlie McTruth

    Very informative.

    Reply
  • rbolo29

    My car headlights are HID-XENON.  Very bright!

    Reply
  • RyuDarragh

    I made a Carbon Arc Lamp from some pencil leads and a 6V lantern battery. Very bright, but not very long lasting 😛

    Reply
  • Yakumo Ran

    carbon arc lamp ignitor not used, starting in high voltage?

    Reply
  • Hot 1kW

    Very informative and original video! You're welcome see some of my HID lamp footage. Subscribed to you. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Electroimpex

    I used the Carbon Rods out of a Lantern Battery, and Cranked it right up to 200 Amps.
    All was Bright, no Shadow, but the Rods lasted only 1 Minute

    Reply
  • I967

    No František Křižík?

    Reply
  • twistedyogert

    Why were they so noisy? I know that transformers buzz because of the 50 or 60hz frequency of the lines, but would they buzz under DC power like from aVoltic Pile? I'm not really familiar with high voltage and have never worked on anything using it, mostly because I'm afraid of accidentally killing myself or someone else.

    Reply
  • Jim O'Callaghan

    Shouldn't Hertha Ayrton be listed for the copper plated carbon electrodes rather than William Wallace?

    Reply
  • Jeff DeWitt

    I think it's so cool that the headlights in my late model Mustang use basically this same 19th century technology.

    Reply
  • Dele Laniyan

    AH! Same function as a vape (e-cigarette)

    Reply
  • Roydon Dsouza

    Ooooo

    Reply
  • Rainer67059

    From a consumer perspective this lamp unites all the disadvantages of candles, oil lamps and gas lighting. From a producer/trader/supplier perspective this lamp unites all the advantages of candles, oil lamps and gas lighting.
    A candle burns down and needs to be replaced. A carbon arc lamp has two carbon sticks that both burn down and need to be replaced. A gas lantern needs to be connected to a supply line and needs to receive constant gas supply. It needs to be supplied with gas from a grid. A carbon arc lamp is electrical. It needs to be connected to an electric grid. It needs constant supply from a supply line. An oil lamp needs to be refilled with oil. A carbon arc lamp has moving parts. The moving parts have bearings. The bearings need to be oiled from time to time.
    On top of that it may need maintenance.

    Reply

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