I recently put together a co-working space in my rural hometown (post coming) as an alternative from my old work-from-home model.

As part of this exercise in dressing up an ancient tin-ceiling storefront it really drilled home how important effective lighting is in my work space for the entire room (and not just the economical task light).

I was looking for this, but couldnt find it so I crunched it myself. Here’s the history of artificial light in one graph.


Note the logarithmic scales for the intended perspective.

So, what have CFLs and LEDs done to my power bill? What do they mean to ancient structures like this one? Do people save money or use more light?


This ceiling fan now holds three (thanks to a nifty splitter) 1500 lumen LED bulbs from Phillips (4500 lumen) and draws 45 watts. The original incandescent drew 60 watts and threw 800 lumen.




lightingCommon Use (years ago)Labor Price (hours of work per 1,000 lumen-hours)Hours of light (1,000 lumens) per 1 hour labor
Open Fire142200058.0000000000.0172
Neolithic Lamp4000050.0000000000.0200
Lamp Fuel Market (fuel trade)40005.9400000000.1684
Improved Candlesticks (chemistry)1863.0000000000.3333
Town Gas (coal-gas)1410.3260000003.0675
Kerosene Lamp
Electric Lamp (Incandescent)1060.09200000010.8696
Electric Lamp (CFL)240.0001190008403.3613
Electric Lamp (LED)0.10.00006961714364.2708
25.73labor hour price
11bulb price
25000lamp life
1050lifetime kwh
132.3lifetime energy price
0.005292energy cost per hour
0.00044bulb cost per hour
3.2brightness factor (*1000 lumens)
0.00179125cost per 1000-lumen-hour
0.000069617labor hours per 1000-lumen-hour