The Evolution of Lighting

The Evolution of Lighting to the Modern Day LED

The evolution of lighting is nearly 2 million years old. For most of human history, we relied on the natural light of the sun and stars to work. This was essential when we lived in agricultural communities but our cities and businesses now run 24/7. Without proper lighting, our modern way of living would be impossible.

Lights use over 58,000 terawatt hours of electricity a year across the UK. This is the light we use in every business, home, and street in Britain.

Let’s look at the history of lighting, from fire to LEDs, and see how lighting has developed.

Where lighting came from

Manufactured light was one of the first inventions of mankind. Our ancestors used primitive tools to create fire on demand instead of relying on lightning to set fire to brush and ancient woodland. This became widespread by 125,000 BC which allowed humans to occupy their first ever shelter – caves.

The evolution of lighting and shelter go hand in hand. It wasn’t until 4500 BC that humanity would be able to sustain a light source without managing it. This was when the basic oil lamp was invented which was then followed by the candle in 3500 BC.

Before electricity, lamps were the focus of development by inventors. The Argand lamp was invented in 1780 and it became a must have product in 18th century Paris. This was because the lamp was much more efficient and it generated ten times the light that a single candle could.

In 1792, the first gas lamp was invented by William Murdoch which revolutionised the use and evolution of lighting outside of the home.

Evolution of Lighting and the workplace

Before the 19th century, factory work was perilous. Early cotton mills relied on water or steam engines and any stray machinery could harm a worker if they couldn’t properly repair it. It was Philips and Lee’s cotton mill in Salford that began to change this by employing gas lamps.

Similar developments pushed forward the mining industry. Humphrey Davy’s safety mining lamp allowed coal miners to avoid setting alight the flammable methane which existed naturally within the mine. Without the new lamp, mining operations were deadly and many workers died.

These early improvements saved countless lives in dangerous industries and minimised injury even more. For modern offices and businesses, the story was different. It wasn’t until the invention of electricity that the world of work changed forever.

The largest improvement in the evolution of lighting came from the invention of alternating current. The Great Barrington demonstration project showed this. Suddenly, 23 businesses could be powered from one transformer which led the way to cheaper lighting for entire city streets.

New Developments in the Evolution of Lighting

After electricity was made available to homes and businesses on a city level, traditional methods of illumination slowly lost their market share. They weren’t a viable option anymore after 1880 when Thomas Edison patented a bulb that could last for 1500 hours.

Slowly over the 20th century, the lightbulb developed to become more efficient. With the creation of fluorescent bulbs, a single lightbulb could last for over 10 years of regular use.

Although more efficient bulbs were invented, it wasn’t until the development of LEDs that lighting could be produced easily and effectively for all uses. LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are in almost every device now. At their smallest size, they can be smaller than a single grain of salt.

For modern use, workplaces rely on LEDs to light an entire building. They last for up to 25 years, making them more cost effective than traditional incandescent bulbs. 

The first yellow LED was invented in 1927 and other colours were invented over time. Blue LED lights weren’t invented until 1994 and an LED replacement for incandescent bulbs didn’t exist until 2011. Now that we have LED filaments, the original bulb was withdrawn from sale in the UK and it has stopped being used in modern UK homes.

What are the best LED lights in the workplace?

One of the most important features of LED lights is its versatility. Although one LED may only be a few lumens, they can meet any need for indoor and outdoor use when many are combined together as one light source. Depending on the casing, an LED light can be fully submerged underwater.

Producing enough light from gas lamps for a small factory previously required 1,000 individual sources but that same amount of light can be produced by just one or two LED lights. Some directional lamps, such as our Mozart Architectural LED light, produce 40,000 lumens which illuminate buildings and bridges at long distance.

For most workplaces, the most important factor to consider is a natural feeling source of light. Employees love to be able to see daylight but unfortunately some building designs and layouts make that near impossible. Choosing an LED panel, such as our office lights, provides a flicker and glare free lighting solution that minimises mid-day drowsiness in difficult corporate settings.

To choose the right solution, consult both your employees and health and safety regulations. Modern offices can’t use antiquated solutions for the good of their workers and of their budget. Different industries benefit from different installations, such as hanging bay lights for high ceiling industrial factories.

Who can provide office lighting?

Finding a solution that is future-proof and employee friendly is important. That’s why our team of UK-based lighting experts today are ready to take your call at 01202 554 200. You can also email us any of your questions at or visit the contact us page of our website.