IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in this world, David Ellis says there wouldn’t be much future in owning a company that makes electric light bulbs if your product lasts as long as one in a Fire Station on the edge of San Francisco’s Bay Area.
Because it’s been glowing for 114 years, or more than 999,000 hours.
Made by the Shelby Electric Company of Ohio and installed in the Livermore Fire Department Hose Cart House in 1901, its been off only a handful of times since… four when the fire station moved to new locations until finally ending up where it is today, and a few more when power failed (and which can’t happen again as its now protected by an uninterruptable supply provided to emergency services.)
Its longevity has been confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and the General Electric Company, which bought the Shelby Electric Company and says it’s proven the globe was indeed made in the earliest years of the 20th century.
Originally emitting 60 watts of light, it now gives off around just four with General Electric’s engineers saying its longevity is the result of it being turned off only those handful of times. That’s because most incandescent globes usually last between1000 and 2000 hours, their filaments heating up and cooling down every time they’re turned on and off, and thus expanding and contracting and developing miniscule stress cracks that eventually join together causing the filaments to break.