A Second Life for Dead Fluorescents With the Induction Wall Light

©. Castor Design via V2.com

Design firm Castor once again gives new life to old dead things.

TreeHugger has been showing the work of Toronto's Castor Design for years; back when the pictures were small we showed a light fixture they designed with dead fluorescent tubes. Now they are at it again with the induction wall light.

Castor bulb

© Castor Design via V2comFluorescent bulbs fluoresced when an electric current ionized mercury vapour in the tube, which gives off invisible ultraviolet light. This light would excite the phosphor coating, which then gives off visible light. Castor Design takes old bulbs that no longer work, but the excitement doesn’t end there; they take the dead bulbs and fire them up with electromagnetic induction.

stomping on switch

© Castor Design via V2Com

Electromagnetic induction is the production of voltage due to a change in the magnetic field. Inside the Induction Wall Light’s box is a circuit and a coil of copper wire wrapped around an iron core. Stomping on the Induction Wall Light’s foot switch activates a circuit inside the switch base, transferring power around the iron core, which then sends electrical current through the wire to the bulb resting in the lamp holder. The active current stimulates the gases inside the fluorescent bulb, which in turn causes the bulb to emit light.
the works

© Castor Design via V2.com

So exciting! Like much of their work, the Induction Wall Light is a new use for old bulbs, which are rapidly disappearing as they are replaced by more efficient, longer lasting, mercury free LEDs.

Rather than destroying a fluorescent bulb, which would release gases that might be environmentally harmful (i.e. Argon and Mercury gases are commonly used in fluorescent bulbs), the Induction Wall Light can power any intact fluorescent bulb. It demonstrates that there is still life left in old bulbs even though they seem exhausted.

Some purists might argue that we shouldn’t consciously bring old mercury-filled bulbs into our homes or offices and mount them exposed on the wall where someone could bang into them; they are fragile things. On the other hand, they are relics, and perhaps a few of them should be displayed to remind us how far we have come.

castor at Gladstone

© Castor

Over a decade ago, when compact fluorescent bulbs were replacing incandescents, Castor put one in the centre of a crate full of dead incandescent bulbs, in one of the most powerful lighting installations I have seen. They fed two kilometres of wire feeding dozens of these boxes back to a single outlet, demonstrating the energy saving power of the compact fluorescent. Now it is like a generational change, as fluorescents disappear. Their new Induction Wall Light is like a monument to the obsolete technology; I wonder what Castor will do in ten years.