The Centennial Light Bulb-Burning Strong For 113 Years

Now-a-days we’re always in the search for a light bulb that doesn’t need to be changed so often.  You’ll find a remarkable light bulb burning bright at a fire station in Livermore, California.  It hasn’t been turned off since 1901, shining around the clock for nearly one million hours now.


The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and General Electric all agree that the four-watt, carbon filament bulb is the longest living in history, despite two moves and a few power outages during its lifetime. The bulb was donated to the department in 1901 by Dennis Bernal, a pioneer in the area who owned the Livermore Power and Light co.  It was originally hung to be used as a night light so firefighters wouldn’t have to fumble around with lighting kerosene lamps.  Over the years the fire chiefs in charge have regarded the light bulb as their talisman.

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There have been many theories to explain the Livermore bulb’s longevity and much research has been done on it.  A physicist at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, Debora Katz has conducted research on the centennial bulb.  A vintage light bulb from Shelby Electric Co. was used because it was the closest replica available.  What makes the Livermore bulb special is its filament is eight times thicker than a contemporary bulb and the filament is a semiconductor, most likely made of carbon.  Katz will continue her research further but she says “It is possible that the Livermore light bulb is one of a kind.”


The only time the bulb was off in the last 113 years was when it was shifted from one fire station and installed in another, and during a power outage.  The fire station installed a camera to monitor the light bulb and apparently is has outlasted 3 cameras, and a UPS unit.  Bulb protector, Steve Bunn said the secret of the lights success was down to good old fashioned engineering.

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