8 Durable Light Bulbs

Longest Lasting Light Bulbs

1. Still glowing strong: Britain's oldest light bulb keeps on shining after an incredible 130 years


While most modern light bulbs barely last a year, this example is still shining on after an incredible 130 years.
The bulb, dating from 1883, was clearly built to last with six internal filaments which have all stood the test of time.

It first belonged to the late Florence Crook who once took it to school to dazzle her classmates. It then passed down to her son Kenneth, in Morecambe, Lancs and is still in use by his widow Beth, 79, at their home.

She told the Daily Express: 'It's a real talking point. There is no substitute for craftsmanship. The new eco bulbs take all week to warm up and hardly give off any light.'

The bulb was one of the earliest products of the Ediswan factory which began started production way back in 1881.
Ediswan was a collaboration between the British Physicist Sir Joseph Swan and American Thomas Edison, both of whom are independently credited with the invention of the light bulb.

Swan's break through was to use a vacuum which meant there was very little oxygen inside the bulb so the filament to glow white-hot without catching fire.

It rolled of the production line as Queen Victoria was beginning her 64th year on the throne and William Gladstone was Prime Minister.

It continued to give good service throughout two world wars and continued to glow well into the new millennium.
According to the Guinness Book of Records the world's oldest light bulb in continuous use has been burning for 109 years and holds pride of place in Fire Station 6, in Livermore, northern California.


2. The Centennial Bulb (1901)

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The Centennial Bulb in Livermore, California is the longest, continuously burning bulb on our list and probably the world's only light with its own website, a live webcam feed, a Facebook page, and annual birthday celebrations.

But how does it keep on keeping, well, on? The approximately 116-year-old bulb has been burning for most of its existence, and there are a few theories as to why. It is of a slightly different design than the Edison bulb of its time, which may have helped contribute to its longevity. Also, the bulb has only rarely been turned off—every time a bulb is turned on and off, the filament cools and is reheated, thus stressing the metal itself and creating tiny cracks. With enough on and off action, the cracks become too much, the filament breaks, and the light goes out.

The City of Livermore and the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department (where the Centennial Bulb is located) intend to keep the light on for you as long as it will last, and have no plans for what to do with the bulb when it eventually burns out. Until then, check the bulb out for yourself here.


3. The Eternal Light (1908)

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The world's second longest burning light bulb is in Fort Worth. The bulb, known as the Eternal Light, was credited as being the longest-lasting bulb in the 1970 edition of the The Guinness Book of World Records but is now known to be the second longest burning bulb. It was originally at the Byers Opera House and was installed by a stage-hand, Barry Burke, on September 21, 1908, above the backstage door. The theater was demolished in 1977 and the bulb was transported to a museum located in the Livestock Exchange Building. Since its installation in the museum, it has only been turned off once — by accident — before being put on its own, unswitched, circuit. So it has been burning for 107+ years.


4. Who is Jack Gasnick?

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A real character, it would seem: A quick web search uncovered a 1994 Times profile that starts with the angling in the basement adventure. (Funny the folks at the Times couldn't find anything more about this in their archives.)

The article locates "the pickerel" escapade in the basement of a hardware store at 992 2nd Avenue sometime in 1955 and clearly identifies post-hurricane flooding as the precipitating cause. But, amazingly, it turns out that this guy's brush with subterranean sea-life is not all he's famous for. Jack Gasnick wrote letters to editors all over town, in which, by turns, he told stories about Marilyn Monroe, Kathrine Hepburn and Irving Berlin ("the stingiest man I ever saw"), all of whom regularly partonized his East Side hardware store.

In the early 1970's -- unbelievably, given how influential Gordon Matta-Clark has become in the last few years -- Gasnick began buying and collecting "gutterspace," or small slivers of land left over from zoning or surveying errors. He said that after a little while he couldn't stop: "It's like collecting stamps; once you've got the fever, you've got the fever."

He bought a slice in Corona just behind Louis Armstrong's house, a piece near Jamaica Bay where he once filled a pale with sea-horses, and yet another adjacent to the Fresh Kills landfill where he claims an abandoned sea Captain's house still stood... On the weekends, he would sometimes drive out to the tiny parcels and help the milkweed and laurel grow, tend to the turtles, and sit down for a picnic. "This jump of mine from flower pot to apple tree bears witness to the fact that it doesn't cost much for an apartment-living guy to get a share of the good environment," he wrote in 1974. To be exact, it cost between $50 and $250. But the taxes he had to pay were enough of a hassle that he gave away (or otherwise lost track of) all the pieces by 1977.

And believe it or not that's not all. According to the Wikipedia entry on the longest-lasting lightbulb, the very same Jack Gasnick -- owner of Ganisck Supply at 53rd Street and 2nd Avenue -- was also the owner of the third oldest, continually running lightbulb on the planet. Apparently, though, it's a distinction he vehemently protested. In 1981, the entry says, he wrote Dear Abby and denounced the oldest, or "alleged" oldest, running bulb in Livermore, California as a fraud.

Could he be the fraud? The lightbulb thing appears to check out: according to both Wikipedia and Roadside America, he holds third place for a lightbulb that ran continually from 1912 until 2003, when his building was demolished to make way for a tower of luxury condos. But another letter-to-the-editor in 1981 might cause you to think he's prone to exageration:

"When I used to talk to Marilyn Monroe on those Thursday nights over the six-foot bar at Bill Chan's Gold Coin, she once mentioned The Seven Year Itch. I have good friends like Sidney Skolsky, Earl Wilson, Humphrey Bogart and Billy Wilder,' I recall her saying, 'but the nicest is Tom Ewell, gentle, kind and worried.' And here is Miss Monroe's tribute to Jack Lemmon, for she added that it was a tossup when Billy Wilder in 1954 chose Ewell over Lemmon for the lead."

Then again, maybe he was just a good talker. Jack, if you're still around, here's to you.


5. Light bulb burns for 81 years

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MANGUM, Okla. -- For the past 81 years, Mangum's firefighters have had trouble sleeping. There has been a constant glow in their sleeping quarters from the nation's third longest burning light bulb.

"We have a light bulb that we know of, that has been burning since 1927," said Mangum Fire Chief Steven Slaton. "If you think about it, the state of Oklahoma was 30 years old when that light bulb was screwed in."

Running from being hard wired directly into the electricity, the light has no power switch. Numerous markings on the outside of the bulb represent it has stood the test of time, and the test of patience.

"Some time ago different firemen had painted black spots on it and stuff like that to dim the light so they could sleep at night," said Slaton.

Slaton has his own theory on what keeps the bulb burning.

"If you were to pull an old style ink pen apart, the spring in it that makes the ink cartridge go up and down, the filament [of the bulb] is the same size," Slaton said.

Reporters are not the only ones who trek across Oklahoma to view this electrical dynamo. Some have traveled across the globe.

"He was from over in eastern Japan somewhere. He came through," Slaton said. "About a year ago we had five college students from the Texas Longhorns. They came through wanting to look at it."

Slaton said the crew isn't distracted by their visitors.

"Honestly, we kinda don't think about it," Slaton said. "It's kind of a little treasure we have, and we'd love to share it with the world whatever who wants to come by and look."

The bulb itself shows no signs of quitting soon. It also has plenty of caretakers around that vow to keep the bulb burning for future generations.

"The only way you're going to turn it off is you unscrew it, and that's not allowed in my era," Slaton said.


6. 100-year-old light bulb found. It still works

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YORK, Pa. — A bulb that may have been burning since the early 1900s has been discovered glowing dimly in the basement of the Fire Museum of York County.

Dennis Kunkle, director of facilities for the York County History Center, sent pictures and a description of the old bulb to an antique radio forum, which told him about the origin of the dual filament bulb.

The Phelps HYLO, "HIGH-LOW" bulb, patented in 1904, was designed to save electricity.


7. The Martin & Newby Bulb (c. 1930)


Ipswich's Martin & Newby bulb was once the fifth longest lasting bulb in the world, but it is no more.

The light lasted in the staff restroom in the back of the store for 70 years but existed without much fanfare as it was switched on and off as needed. One day, in 2001, it just stopped working. Brian Stopher, an electrical department manager who worked at Martin & Newby since 1952, believes that the reason it lasted as long as it did was because of its low wattage—it was only about 25 watts.


8. Neon Light, Possibly on for a Record 70 Years, Found Behind Wall at Clifton's Cafeteria


In 2012, the new owner of Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles found a neon light hidden behind some paneling that had been left on since 1935.

Andrew Meieran was renovating his eatery when he noticed light shining through a storeroom wall. Further inspection revealed a glowing neon light that had been paneled over in 1949 but never disconnected. It is estimated that the light has used up about $17,000 worth of electricity over the years. It continues to burn but is now on public display for patrons to enjoy.

The walls of the restaurant once featured numerous hand-tinted transparencies landscapes, each of which was backlit by a rectangular neon light. This one was installed in a window-like nook in a basement restroom, where it softly illuminated a woodland scene.

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