Electric Flicker Light Bulbs

Flicker Light picture

A young caller recently asked Bill about “flicker lights” and how they worked. Bill’s answer described how blinking lights work, but flicker lights are something entirely different. They are extremely low-wattage novelty light bulbs, with a unique filament designed to mimic the flicker of a candle or gas flame.

I converted the video I took to the animated image above, but you can also view a RealVideo version of the light in action. (You’ll need RealNetworks’ RealPlayer to view the video.)

Instead of a normal wire filament that glows white-hot from the electricity flowing through it providing light, a flicker light uses two flat plates of thin metal, spaced less than one millimeter apart. The light is a shade of orange and is not very bright (the bulb I bought is 3 Watts). Because the two metal plates don’t actually touch, the electricity must jump across them in the near vacuum, creating a plasma, which flutters around as the path of least-resistance changes.

Want to buy one? Try Amazing Light Bulbs.

Professor Raymond Turner describes another type of flicker light which I have not seen.

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