Light Bulbs Going Out Too Frequently

spafrica2003February 4, 2011

I have changed the light bulbs in my kitchen a little too frequently for me to think it's a fluke. Are there factors that contribute to lights burning out too fast such as amperage, fixture quality, etc? Or did I just get a bad box of poorly-made garbage bulbs?

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Cheap bulbs can be the cause. Is this a new problem with one or more fixtures you have lived with for some time? If so, it is not the fixtures. In addition to the bulbs, you could check the voltage at your house. voltage that is too high can cause bulbs to fail prematurely and lots of other problems. I would think this would cause other highly-used bulbs to be crapping out as well. How are the ones in the bathroom doing?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 2:01PM
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High voltage will kill them quickly, after that vibration is a big killer.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 3:04PM
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Bathroom ones seem to be the other culprits, though not as frequently as the kitchen ones. You have both mentioned voltage as a concern. I only have 110V going to the lights. Does amperage have an effect? Would it be bad if they were on a 20 amp (the whole house runs 12-gauge wire)instead of a 15 amp breaker?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 5:31PM
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How did you measure the "110V" ?

Having lights on a 20amp breaker isn't going to cause them to burn out prematurely.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 5:51PM
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It's not at all uncommon for homes to have higher than "normal" voltage. The only way to tell is to measure it with a volt meter. Higher voltage will definitely shorten the life of a incandescent lamp. If higher voltage is the case, you will see it in all your fixtures, not just one or two. As mentioned, vibration is another problem that will shorten lamp life.

You have a few options if you can't measure the voltage to be sure. Install 130v lamps. They're harder to find and won't be available in the variety that 120v lamps come it but most big box home centers have a few. They're often labeled as "contractor bulbs". If not, try an electrical supply house. If you suspect vibration, try a "rough service" lamp or one designed for a garage door opener. You can also use a compact fluorescent lamp.

The amperage of the circuit the lamp is on has nothing to do with its service life.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 5:59PM
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In addition to vibration, heat is a killer of light bulbs. Make sure you are using the correct wattage bulbs as a closed fixture may concentrate too much heat around a higher wattage bulb.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 6:27PM
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Vibration can be caused by kids playing roughly in a bedroom above the room where the frequent failures happen.

Rough service or ceiling fan bulbs resist vibration better. I've also found that many compact fluorescents do better with vibration.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 11:52PM
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Nearby hinged or sliding door could be imparting filament-killing vibrations when hitting the stops.

Family member had this problem with the exterior fixture adjacent to the front door of residence. Vibration/shock of door closing not initially seen as the likely culprit, since CBS construction, poured columns and tie beams, etc... looked for water intrusion instead, found none, blamed in on moths, lol.

Suspicious of the "drum" sound when door slammed, I pulled the related switch wallplate and exterior fixture, to discover that entire foyer was cheap woodframe add-on to original CBS structure, stuccoed over to match--the bastiges. The door hitting the jam (and/or air compression) was flexing that wall like a drumhead.

Rough service bulb does much better there now.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 10:53PM
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... could be range hoods, garbage disposals, central vacuum system, etc... basically anything motorized that could transmit vibration to the light fixture.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 10:57PM
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Fixizin, I had a similar situation with one of my rentals. The tenants of one unit griped that the outside light kept burning out. Turned out they were slamming the door and the whole wall where the light was mounted shook. I put in a compact fluorescent for them, and it lasted for years.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 12:01AM
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All great to know. Thanks, everyone.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:27AM
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Just curious, what type of "lights" do you have in your kitchen? That is, what type of fixture? Is it by any chance a cieling fan?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 10:06AM
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DavidR, yeah, I'll go that extra mile too, for nicer/older/long-term tenants, who are just not savvy on such things.

I'd never considered CFs as "rough service" but I guess perhaps their filament config makes them so...? I'm still irked by the hassle I got trying to return a CF which had an EXPLICIT 5-YEAR guarantee, but died in less than 1 yr... gads, who wants to file away a $6 receipt for half a decade? Bloody hell, read the mfr. date code on the base, and gimme my replacement bulb, whydoncha? ;')

I'm all for saving energy, but compared to HVAC, refrigeration, water heating, and "home theaters", lighting is a dubious place to be focusing so much hoopla... and where's the data on how much extra energy is consumed in the MANUFACTURE and DISPOSAL life-cycle of these "better" bulbs? Is it another net-E-LOSS Potemkin Village, like corn-based ETHANOL, foisted on us by the faux-Greens?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 8:15PM
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I don't really know about the energy used in making the CFs, and I have no clue where to find out, sorry.

No doubt some energy is used in shipping them from China, where practically all of them are now made. But then quite a few incandescent bulbs are made overseas too, so maybe that's a wash.

Lighting uses about 15% of US home electricity consumption. That may not sound like much, but it's the largest share of any single item except for air conditioning (which is 16.5%). That's why changing to more efficient lighting is one of the easiest ways to reduce home electrical consumption (and cost).

This is where I might also point out that the air leaks from swiss-cheese recessed light ceilings waste that cool air in the summer, too. Another reason not to install recessed lights.

Water heating is just over 9% of home consumption, and space heating is just under 9% (remember that a lot of houses have fuel-burning heat and the electricity consumption is only for the fans and such).

Check the link below, it has this and all kinds of interesting information, including stuff that I never knew.

For example, someone told me years ago that 20% of the electricity generated is wasted as heat in the power lines. Must be true, that's why birds sit on power lines in the winter, to get warm, right?

Wrong! My friend was way off. According to the DOE, the average national loss is only 6.5%. I think that's pretty amazing when you consider how many millions of miles of transmission line criss-cross the country.

Here is a link that might be useful: DOE Electricity FAQ

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 11:57PM
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