Power
Energy and Thermal Physics

Investigating light intensity from a lamp

Practical Activity for 14-16 PRACTICAL PHYISCS

Demonstration

Measuring how the light intensity of a lamp varies with power input.

Apparatus and Materials

  • Power supply, LV
  • Lamp, 12 V 24 W
  • Lamp holder (SBC for LV use)
  • Rheostat (10 - 15 ohms)
  • Demonstration meter (0 - 15 volts DC)
  • Demonstration meter, 0 - 5 amp DC
  • Light meter (or photographic exposure meter)

Health & Safety and Technical Notes

Read our standard health & safety guidance


Digital light meters suitable for education use can be obtained from several electrical equipment suppliers for £30 or so.

Procedure

  1. Set up the circuit shown with the light meter some 10 - 15 cm from the lamp.
  2. Record values from the light meter, together with ammeter and voltmeter readings.
  3. Calculations of the power input (energy transferred electrically per second to the lamp) should range from 10 to 30 watts (corresponding to a change of 7-14 volts).
  4. Plot a graph of light intensity against power input.

Teaching Notes

  • The graph of light meter readings against power input is a very important one when the efficiency of lamps is being investigated. This graph should give approximately a straight line, not passing through the origin.
  • This is an opportunity to discuss the power rating of devices. This is the power input when the device is connected to the potential difference for which it has been designed. It will not transfer energy at the same rate if connected to a lower (or higher) potential difference.
  • The light intensity is a proxy for the power output (the energy transferred per second by the light).
  • The light meter may need to be placed further from the lamp. For a 100-watt lamp, meters will be needed recording up to 250 volts AC and 500 mA. AC.
  • Energy efficient lamps could also be tried but if high voltages are needed, then suitable precautions need to be taken.

This experiment was safety-tested in January 2006

Power
appears in the relation P=VI P=I^2R P=V^2/R ΔQ=PΔt
IOP DOMAINS Physics CPD programme

Energy CPD videos

Our new set of videos gives teachers and coaches of physics a preview of the training we offer ahead of this term's live support sessions.

Find out more