LED Options Now Available for Exposed Filament Vintage Style Bulbs

It doesn’t take too much searching these days to find a coffee shop, bistro, café or restaurant illuminated, at least partially, with vintage style exposed filament incandescent light bulbs.

This trend has exploded on the scene so quickly in the last few years that manufacturers and suppliers have had to scramble to keep up with the demand.

Whether called vintage, Victorian or turn-of-the-century, these light bulbs, which mimic the shapes, filament configurations and warm glow of early Edison bulbs, evoke a nostalgia for how spaces were lit in the early days of electric lighting.

Often simply installed in a socket hung from the ceiling, the lamps can also be used inside pendants over tables or in wall sconces with clear diffusers so the beauty of the bulb itself can be appreciated.

Early Light Bulb Filaments and Shapes

The late 19th century and early 20th century incandescent light bulbs used a variety of materials (including carbonized paper and bamboo) for filaments before eventually settling on tungsten metal. The key requirement for the material to work as a filament was for it to have a high enough melting point temperature so that when electric current was applied it could reach “incandescence” without destroying itself.

Most of these early light bulbs produced an amber glow rather than the whiter light of later years when filament technology improved and higher temperatures were possible.

The interesting, convoluted filament shapes (squirrel cage, spiral, loop and hairpin) found in the early light bulbs were the result of developers like Thomas Edison and others trying to increase the filament length inside the bulb so more light could be emitted. The tightly wound filaments found in incandescent bulbs today, contrast with the more fashionable appearance of the older filament shapes.

The Vintage Bulb Lives Again in Contemporary Spaces

The market is flooded with re-created incandescent, tungsten filament replicas of these early light bulbs. In addition, vendors including Topbulb now also offer LED versions for people who like the vintage look but also want long bulb life and greater energy efficiency.

On close inspection, the LED vintage bulbs cannot produce a filament that matches the early filaments as closely as the current tungsten filament versions do. However, in most applications, particularly commercial uses such as in bistros and restaurants, these bulbs are viewed by occupants at distances that don’t require exact replication. The overall look of exposed filament bulbs, vintage bulb shapes and warm amber illumination achieve the decorative appeal of traditional vintage light bulbs.

It’s worth noting that manufacturers of LED vintage, exposed filament bulbs usually offer two color temperatures – 2700K and 2200K. If you want to simulate the warm amber appearance of traditional light bulbs, purchase the 2200K LED bulbs. If you simply like the traditional shapes and the exposed filament look, but want a brighter, whiter illumination, then purchase the 2700K bulbs.

Shop LED Filament Vintage Bulbs at Topbulb

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.

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