Centennial Light, the World’s Longest Lasting Lightbulb
It seems that nothing is built to last any more. We are pretty much normalised to everything failing a few weeks after the warranty runs out. Even the roof on a new-build house only comes with a ten year guarantee, although the way some of them are thrown up you’re probably lucky to get that. So it’s a real bargain when you get your hands on something that seems to go on and on.
The Centennial Light, looked after by the Centennial Light Bulb Committee and Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department at 4550 East Avenue, Livermore, California is certainly something that goes on and on. It’s been on the go since 1901!
It was manufactured by the Shelby Electric Company, based in Shelby, Ohio, some time in the 1890s. It was given to the fire department by Dennis Bernal when he sold his business, the Livermore Power and Water Company.
It started life as a hand-blown bulb with a carbon filament and would have been rated at between 30 an 60 watts. It has dimmed considerably over the century it’s been going for and now emits about as much light as a 4 watt night light.
Over the course of its life it has only been turned off a handful of times. When the fire department moved building, taking the light with them, they decided to cut the cord and rewire it in its new location rather than risk unscrewing it and damaging the glass bulb or the filament, any leak of air getting in would be the end of it!.
On another occasion it appeared to have died, but when inspected by an electrician he discovered that its power supply had failed, not the bulb itself. When it was hooked up to a good supply it burned like new for several hours before dimming again.
For several years now the Centennial Light has had it’s own dedicated website and even a webcam where you can watch it in operation, have a look here: http://www.centennialbulb.org
We all love a long-lasting bargain and they don’t get much better than the Centennial Light, a fantastic piece of working history from the days when things were built to last.