House & Home

Industry Trend: Going Back in Time with Gas Lighting

Posted August 29, 2013

We're always fascinated by industry trends here at Networx, and this particular one appeals to my heart, because I'm a huge fan of historical fiction: it turns out that gas lighting is coming back into style. Over 100 years ago, if you wanted indoor lighting, it had to be gas, and homeowners with the money to do it plumbed their homes for fixtures that offered a gentle, diffused light.

Of course, with all that gas lighting came pollution thanks to inadequate filtration systems, and the risk of fires and explosions; so most people were happy to switch other to electric when it became available. Gas lighting fell out of favor quickly and became a curiosity at best with so many great alternatives available, which is why it's fascinating to see it coming back into style again.

Now, don't run out and ask for a quote from your area plumber on what it would cost to get your home fully plumbed for gas. Because this trend is limited, and it's not intended to replace your existing electric lighting. There are a lot of advantages to using electricity for lighting including better energy efficiency and safety, more control over the level of brightness, and of course a reduction of problems like streaks and stains caused by byproducts of combustion in the gas flame.

But. Several companies including New Orleans Gas & Electric Lanterns and Charleston Gas Light are making clean-burning fixtures intended for gas. Yes, gas lighting really is making a comeback! These new fixtures are designed to be as energy efficient and safe as possible, cutting out many of the problems historically associated with gas lighting, and they have all the charm and beauty of their historic counterparts. Can anyone say "best of both worlds?"

And also "flattering, beautiful, romantic light"? Because there's something about the look of gas lighting that's hard to replicate with electricity, although people have certainly tried, and let's just say that gas has its place. These lanterns are mostly intended for outdoor use, to add atmosphere to the outside of a home, including gates, pathways, and porches. However, wall-mount versions are also available and could potenially be used indoors.

Like historical lanterns, they use mirrors and glass to reflect and refract the light, multiplying it to make the surrounding area brighter. This trick also adds depth and texture to the quality of the light, creating a gently undulating glow that's very distinctive, the hallmark look of gas. Since the combustion isn't precisely controllable or predictable, although it's very safe and low-energy, this is a look that can't be replicated with flickering electric lanterns.

Most come with an electric safety starter, allowing you to turn lanterns on and off as you need them. The safety apparatus on the lantern cuts off the supply of gas if the flame isn't burning, ensuring that a buildup won't occur if something happens to the flame. And they function with modern plumbing systems and all their safety features, using a minimal amount of gas to keep the flame going while ensuring the lantern remains extremely safe.

If you're still leery of switching over to gas, don't worry: many of these companies make lanterns that can be fitted with electric, too. If you want the look of gas lanterns for your beautiful Southern home, for example, you can call a Charlotte electrician for a quote on fitting your home with one or more of the stunning models developed by firms interested in bringing the feel of gas back. So why not go ahead and indulge your sense of historical romance?

Katie Marks writes for

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