Domestic lighting

This online exhibition explores electric lighting within the home. It briefly describes life before electricity, early developments in lighting and how the benefits of electricity were promoted.

A History of Electric Lighting in the home- Let there be light!

This online exhibition explores electric lighting within the home and how it made a huge difference to improving the lives of people. It briefly describes life before electricity, early developments in lighting and how the benefits of electricity were promoted.

The material has been taken from collections within the IET Archives. Special thanks is given to Dr Brian Bowers whose book, "Lengthening the Day, A History of Lighting Technology" (Oxford University Press 1998), provides valuable information on the history of lighting.

  • Detail from a paraffin lamp safety pamphlet  Life before electricity: Before electricity was made available as a means of lighting one's home the most common method was either by candlelight or by gas.
  • Early developments in electric lighting: A major practical problem with the development of electric lighting was the need to find a suitable source of electricity that was not expensive.
  • Detail from electrical light fittings 1892  Lighting the home: Despite the slow start, electric lighting soon became very popular.
  • Lighting the home- women's involvement: Women championed electric light as they literally saw the benefits it could produce in their home.
  • Promotion of electricity in the home: In order for the producers of electric lights to win the battle as the dominant power supply within the home they needed to be Detail from an advertisement for Mazda lights proactive.
  • Advertising electric lighting: when electricity was first introduced it had to compete heavily with gas. It did not sell itself; it had to be cleverly marketed to appeal to customers.

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