13w bulb in a 26w socket/fixture?

talley_sue_nycNovember 6, 2011

when I ordered a new light fixture for my building's vestibule, it came with sockets for four-pin CFL lamps (bulbs) instead of the two-pin I thought I had ordered.

When the electrician went to put the lamps into the sockets, there was a plastic flange that was in the way--it didn't line up with the socket. He promised me it would be OK, and he cut the plastic tab off.

Last week one of them burned out, so I figured I'd get it squared away properly. And got up on the ladder myself, to discover that the IS a slot for a tab, but it's in the 26W spot.

(and there's a "26W" on the socket itself)

So I'll buy a replacement bulb w/ the tab in the right position.

Meanwhile--the bulb that's in the fixture is a 13W. Do I need to replace it, or can I just wait until it burns out?

And in general, what happens when a 13w bulb is in a 26w socket? Does it burn out sooner (bcs I had expected these bulbs to last a lot longer than this. The two-pin ones in the old fixture lasted forever. I stocked up on bulbs, and I still have ones I've never used.)

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Ron Natalie

If the bulb lights, it will probably be OK with the whittled bulb in there. The bulb should live a normal life. It's a slimely thing for the electrician to do however.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 7:39PM
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Lets assume for a moment that you looked at all the details because you did not think that you already knew all about it. Let's further assume that the electrician assumed that he did know all about it or that he did not want to be observed puzzling over the situation. So the upshot is that you did the better job of thinking through the situation. Most of us have never done such a lamp substitution and cannot speak from experience. But I suspect that the lower wattage (13) lamp will have a significantly shorter life in the 26W setup.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:05AM
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Thanks, guys!

bus_driver, that would explain why this bulb blew so quickly.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that the 26W will last a lot longer!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 10:22AM
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Bulbs are rarely interchangeable on florescent ballasts.

They are a matched set. The ballast has been designed to provide the correct striking voltage and limit the current through the bulb once it ignites.

The ballast is likely allowing a much higher current to pass through the bulb, and as you have already noticed, bulb life will be short.
The strike voltage may also be different.

A new electrician is probably in order.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 3:37PM
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Don't ever do this. The four-pin bulbs, amongst other things, are designed for use with dimmers (ones specifically designed for fluorescent lamp fixtures) whereas two-pin bulbs aren't. The ballasts also work differently. And all ballasts should be used with the wattage of bulb they're intended for. Unlike incandescent-retrofit CFL (or GU24) bulbs that have built-in ballasts, the ballasts on two- or four-pin compact fluorescent bulbs are not integral, and rather are attached to the lamp fixture not the bulb.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 6:15AM
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the number of pins is exactly the same--it's a four-pin socket, and a four-pin bulb.

The part that was removed was the tiny little plastic flange that is there to indicate the individual wattage. But the actual metal pins are exactly the same.

But I have replaced the 13w with the 26w, which is what the ballast is labeled.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 3:39PM
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