History of HID Lighting

History of HID Lighting

As with any field, new discoveries in lighting have shaped the solutions we are familiar with in the modern age. When it comes to the history of HID lighting, it might be of interest to learn that there were many discoveries along the way which contributed to what we use today. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the major turning points in the history of HID lighting.

The high-intensity discharge (HID) lamp can be traced all the way back to 1675. A scientist named Jean-Felix Picard discovered that his mercury barometer would glow when shaken. This was the first sign of a high-intensity discharge being observed of creating illumination, but it wasn’t until 1705 that this method of illumination would be explained by Francis Hauksbee. He placed mercury inside a glass vacuum which would illuminate enough to be considerable to what we think of as light bulbs today. However, even though the illumination was perhaps the brightest experienced up to that point in history, it wasn’t easily sustained.

While other inventors would experiment with this type of lighting, it wasn’t until 1857 when real progress was achieved. This was the year Heinrich Geissler would introduce his glass cathode tubes with different gases inside to produce illumination. While he used various gasses, it would be the use of mercury which would signify the turning point in the history of HID lighting.

In 1901, Peter Cooper Hewitt created the first commercial mercury vapor lamp. The use of mercury was an innovative choice because it was relativity abundant to help make it accessible to consumers. In 1906, an improved version was introduced which used high pressure over low pressure of the previous model to help with the quality and longevity of the illumination produced.

Another major turning point in the history of HID lighting came when Thomas Edison’s company, General Electric Company, bought the patent in 1913. With the resources and team of the leading man in illumination having a part of the puzzle, it was only a matter of time before new advancements would be made with high-intensity discharge lighting. While General Electric made some headway in the creation of a more efficient high-intensity discharge lamp, the real result of this patent being bought by Edison’s company was that it helped to ignite the race to be first in new advances. With this spirit in place, Philips created the first high-pressure sodium lamp. The invention of the use of sodium over mercury would prove beneficial in areas such as light color, sustainability, and overall operational ability.

While the use of sodium discharge lamps proved beneficial in several ways, the color output was still rather yellow in tone. In 1962, a metal halide lamp was introduced as a new way to use a high-intensity discharge method of operation yet still get a whiter light color. With new advances to perfect the use of both metal halide and sodium discharge, HID lighting became a viable lighting solution in the 1970s and continues to be utilized in various settings today.

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