How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 182

Is there a better way to construct a light bulb? For instance, is there a way to prevent the surface of the bulb from heating so quickly and generating so much heat? Is glass the best cover?
Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to increase the efficiency of an incandescent bulb. It emits light by creating a very hot filament. Some of the filament's heat is emitted as visible light but most ends up as hot air or infrared light (which you cannot see). There are tricks used to increase the bulb's visible light output slightly (e.g. heating the filament hotter as in a halogen bulb or reducing the heat transport in the bulb gas as in a krypton bulb), but mostly there is nothing that can be done. Glass is about the best material for a bulb: it's clear and a relatively poor conductor of heat.

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