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Saúl Rodríguez
Saúl Rodríguez

English Tubelight

English Tubelight: What Is It and How Does It Work?

If you are from South Asia, you might be familiar with the term "tubelight" as a layman's term for a fluorescent tube lamp. But what do Americans call it and how does it work? In this article, we will explain the basics of fluorescent lighting and its history.

What Is a Fluorescent Light?

A fluorescent light is a type of electric light that uses a gas-filled tube to produce visible light. The gas inside the tube is usually mercury vapor, which emits short-wave ultraviolet (UV) light when an electric current passes through it. The UV light then hits a phosphor coating on the inside of the tube, which converts it into visible light of different colors depending on the composition of the phosphor.


A fluorescent light is more efficient than an incandescent light, which uses a heated filament to produce light. A typical fluorescent light can produce 50 to 100 lumens per watt, while an incandescent light can only produce 16 lumens per watt. This means that a fluorescent light can produce more light with less energy consumption and lower heat generation.

What Do Americans Call a Tubelight?

In American English, the term "tubelight" or "tube light" is not commonly used. Instead, Americans usually call it a "fluorescent light" or a "fluorescent lamp". Sometimes, they also use the term "neon light" or "neon lamp", although this is technically incorrect since neon is a different gas that produces red-orange light.

If you want to be more specific about the shape of the fluorescent light, you can use the term "fluorescent tube" or "fluorescent tube light". This distinguishes it from other types of fluorescent lights that are not tube-shaped, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or circular fluorescent lamps.

How Was Fluorescent Lighting Invented?

The phenomenon of fluorescence was first observed and named by Sir George Stokes in 1852, after he noticed that some minerals glowed when exposed to UV light. He named it after fluorite, a mineral that exhibits strong fluorescence.

The first electric discharge lamps were created by Heinrich Geissler in 1856, who used a mercury vacuum pump to evacuate glass tubes and pass an electric current through them. He observed that different gases produced different colors of light when excited by electricity.

The first practical fluorescent lamps were developed by Peter Cooper Hewitt in 1901, who used mercury vapor and a blue-green phosphor to produce white light. However, his lamps were not very efficient and had a low color rendering index (CRI), which means they did not show the true colors of objects illuminated by them.

The modern fluorescent lamp was invented by Edmund Germer, Friedrich Meyer, and Hans Spanner in 1926, who improved the efficiency and CRI of the lamp by using argon gas and a three-band phosphor that produced red, green, and blue light. They also introduced the use of electrodes coated with barium oxide to reduce sputtering and increase the life span of the lamp.


In conclusion, a tubelight is a type of fluorescent light that uses a gas-filled tube to produce visible light. Americans usually call it a fluorescent light or a fluorescent lamp, and sometimes a neon light or a neon lamp. Fluorescent lighting was invented in the 19th century and improved in the 20th century to become more efficient and reliable.


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