Burned Out Light Bulbs

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We have been in this house quit a while, and I recall always having this problem.
We go through light bulbs like water. It is not uncommon for a light bulb to last two or three weeks before I have to replace it again.
The bulbs always burn out right when the light switch is turned on. I turn on the light switch, the light goes on for an instant, then burns out. The bulbs don't ever burn out when the light has been on for a while.
So, I really feel like there is something not right about the electricity in the house, as strange as that sounds.
Any ideas?
-----+----->>>>joe Obrin | +----->>>> snipped-for-privacy@io.com | +----->>>>http://www.io.com/~joeobrin
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I had this happening in the Condominium that I used to live in until about a year ago. It happens to some extent in my new house as well. I didn't have it quite that bad, but we did go through a lot of bulbs. I remember once saying something like that about "electrical system probaby not quite right" and he asked if the lights that burned out were on a ceiling that had a floor above it. I said yes. He said it's likely that the vibrations from walking above might be jarring the filaments in the bulb, causing them to fail prematurely. Sounds reasonable, but is it the problem? I can't say. Hope this helps some.
Danny
snipped-for-privacy@io.com wrote:

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I had the same problem with a house I purchased a couple of years ago. Turned out that there was a problem with the transformer at the street, and I was getting serious over-voltage.
Check your outlets with a multi-meter. I think I was getting 135-140v on 110 v circuits.
Once this was discovered, the utility company jumped through hoops to correct the problem.
KB

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s/b 117 VAC RMS, no?

and
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I am not an electrician, but maybe check to make sure you are using the right size watts and bulb type for the outlet.

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Subject: Re: Burned Out Light Bulbs Newsgroup: alt.home.repair => Unknown <= wrote:>I am not an electrician, but maybe check to make sure you are using the

WOW!!
What a great idea.
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-Graham

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Unknown wrote:

the
You're right, you're no electrician.
And what wattage do you recommend?
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I had this problem, although not quite as bad as you and it was only in one room.
When I replaced the ceiling light fixture the problem went away.
Lewis.
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snipped-for-privacy@io.com wrote:

I
burns
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On 13 Feb 2005 20:27:12 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@io.com wrote:

I had the same problems a few years ago. Had power company to come out and put a recording volt meter on line. Found no problems. Changed to higher quality bulbs.. problem solved. Some charities used to sell great "lifetime" bulbs as a fund raiser.. They weren't lifetime.. but lasted longer than what you get in grocery store.
note.. Having power company record incoming voltage won't show a problem you may be having with your wiring inside of house .. such as broken neutral line..
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On 13 Feb 2005 20:27:12 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@io.com wrote:

That's very possible. The most likely cause is that the voltage is too high in your house and that has given you shortened life on the bulbs.
The question is what is causing this? The first thing you need to do is get an accurate voltmeter. If you don't own one see if you can borrow one from a neighbor. Measure the voltage at a few outlets around your house. Repeat the measurements at various times of day. You should be measuring no more than 125 volts (Assuming you are in North America). Two quick possibilities...
1. If you get really weird High and Low readlings, such as 130+ volts on some outlets and perhaps 100 or less volts on others, you most likely have a loose or broken neutral problem. This is something that a professional electrician will need to fix. This is a serious problem and a fire hazard so you don't want to delay calling for professional help.
2. If every outlet reads a high voltage, say >130 volts, then most likely the problem is with your power company, specifically, with the power company's transformer serving your house. They should fix this for free.
Perhaps the quickest way to determine the cause of the problem is to call the power company first. They should send out a technician to determine if the problem is yours or theirs and most will not charge you for the visit.
Beachcomber
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snipped-for-privacy@io.com wrote:

After all other solutions fail - if they do - replace your light switches with dimmer switches. "Turning up" the light may provide enough time for the device to handle the surge. Also, running at 90% should lengthen the bulb's life.
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snipped-for-privacy@io.com wrote:

If after investigating you find that everything is up to snuff with the home's wiring, but the incoming voltage is on the high side, but not so high that your utility will do anything about it, there are a few things you can do:
1. Buy 130 volt bulbs. They are available through electrical supply houses. You'll find they will last a LOT longer. They cost quite a bit more than commonly available bulbs, and you won't get as many lumens of light per watt consumed, but every convenience has its price.
2. You can buy thermistor "soft start" devices which go in the socket under the bulb base and effectively eliminate the turn on current surge.
3. As others have suggested you can install solid state lamp dimmers and remember to turn the lights on by bringing the dimmer up from zero. That'll eliminate the turn on surge too.
4. I got annoyed at the frequency with which I'd notice one of the eight "vanity" bulbs in our master bath burned out. Ten years ago I installed a dimmer in that circuit and hid it in a box above the top of a medicine cabinet. I set it slightly down from full on, and I don't think I've had to replace more than a couple of those vanity bulbs since I did that. Plus, the light is just a bit softer and redder, which helps us to accept our morning mugs in the mirror. <G>
HTH,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia

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HD and Lowes also sell them,as "contractor" bulbs,in large packs,24 or more bulbs.One of those two -used- to sell them in smaller,more practical packs(for me),but I haven't been able to find them lately. I prefer to use the 130v bulbs.

I had a 130V 100W bulb last for 14 years in the globe in my dining room,and it was on a dimmer,but I turned it on and off normally but not dimming to 'out',but at about a 85 % level.
Ordinary incandescent bulb filaments gradually erode and become thinner,and finally,the turn out surge is what kills them.
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Jim Yanik wrote:
<snipped>

Yeah, and sometimes when they burn out you'll get a "tungsten arc" effect where an arc starts burning between the broken filament ends and keeps melting back along the two filament pieces until it is arcing directly between the filament connecting leads. That arc can be a low enough resistance to cause a fuse to pop or a breaker to snap.
When you get a "tungsten arc" it usually occurs just as you switch on the bulb and you may notice a brief brighter than normal flash of light, it's all over in a moment.
Some light bulbs are/were made with a "fuse link" built into one of the leads intended to blow under those arcing conditions to avoid your having to reset a breaker or replace a fuse.
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia

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Your point is well-taken, but I never had a circuit breaker trip due to a light bulb failure. Never heard of fusable link in a light bulb.

thinner,and
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Does a dimmer constitute a soft starter? IOW, does it block current until voltage zero-crossing? Obviously, you are not turning the lights on at the dimmer. It is in series with your regular switch.
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John B wrote:

I don't thing the long life I'm getting is from a "soft start", which to my understanding is a slow increase in voltage/current which takes maybe a second or so and never lets the current get to the high levels it will reach when a cold bulb filament is suddenly connected to full power. I suspect the thermal lag in a good sized bulb's filament may be enough so that not much is gained just by having the first half cycle of power to the bulb start at a zero crossing, though that can't hurt either, can it?
I'd rather go with the theory that running the bulbs a bit down from their rated power is akin to using 130 volt bulbs, and the evaporation rate of the filament is down by whatever exponential ratio fits the reduced power, and thus they "last longer".
And yes, I do have the original wall toggle switch ahead the dimmer.
Don Klipstein should check in here about now, he's my acknowledged light bulb guru. There's more than you probably ever wanted to know at his great site:
http://members.misty.com/don/light.html
HTH,
Jeff
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Your point is taken, that "soft start" does not *necessarily* consist of zero-crossing start. Your point is also taken that the low resistance of a light bulb changes to a much higher resistance, once the filament heats up. For a brief time, a hugh inrush of current is possible due to the initial low resistance of the light. That is indeed more likely the culprit in lamp mortality, than mere lack of starting at zero-crossing. I recall from years ago that triac implies start at zero crossing. Lutron website says all of its dimmers have triacs as the essential elements. So any Lutron dimmer would seemingly assure startup at zero crossing.
wrote

until
series
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John B wrote:

of
resistance of a

heats up.

initial
in lamp

Lutron
elements. So

Your recollection may be inaccurate. Triac light dimmers actually work by assuring AGAINST zero crossing startup. Except when full-on or off, the dimmer operates by delaying the current with respect to the voltage zero crossing, 120 times per second. When at 50% duty cycle (about 1/2 power), the current starts 1/4 cycle behind the voltage, i.e. at the PEAK of the voltage sinewave, and stops when the voltage passes through zero, so only the last half of each positive and negative half-cycle is used.
Some heater controls modulate power by energizing the element for a certain number of full cycles, deenergizing for some number of full cycles, and so on. Here, zero crossing can be employed. This scheme is not so good for lighting because the "blink rate" is well below 60 Hz and would be quite noticable.
The question to be answered is how much of a difference does it make using the last half of the sine "bump" vs. the first half, in terms of energy imparted to the filament per cycle, taking into account the mass and heat capacity of the filament, etc. etc.
I suspect that during rapid warmup, one segment of the filament gets hotter than the rest, which makes its resistance go up higher, which means it receives more power than than its neighboring segments which still have lower resistance. Since it receives more power, it heats up even faster and resistance increases even more. The hotter segment also expands more rapidly and suffers greater mechanical stress and fatigue as a result, becoming a likely point of failure.
Bringing the current up slowly, over the course of a second or so, allows time for all segments to heat at closer to the same rate, as well as time for heat to diffuse from one segment to another, allowing more uniform heating and greatly reducing the chance of a local hotspot forming.
Some of these ideas can be demonstrated by experimenting with bulbs in series, which is effectively a single filament divided into segments. Say you have a car battery (12V) and 5 to 10 identical automotive bulbs in series. When you complete the circuit, you'll see that one gets initially brighter than the others, then it may even get dimmer as the others "catch up" to finally achieve uniform brightness. That's because even though they are "identical," there are slight differences in the bulbs and the one with the highest initial resistance and/or the quickest heating filament will absorb most of the power till the others heat up. I noticed this effect when I was about 6 years old, though I had no idea what was causing it; I just knew I could rearrange the order of the bulbs in series till they lit up from left to right and it was pretty cool.
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snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net wrote:
<snipped>

I've never noticed that effect, but it seems possible.
I'm guessing it was holiday lighting (Xmas tree strings) you were experimenting with when you were around age 6, right?
I'm having a hard time visualizing what ten 12 volt bulbs across a 12 volt battery would end up doing. Wouldn't seem like there'd be enough voltage available to produce anything other than infrared "uniform brightness" with just 1.2 volts across each bulb, or did you misspeak about the battery's voltage?
Oh, and my face is red for geting lured into agreeing that triacs "switch on" at zero crossings. I know better, but it's been so long since I built anything with triacs that I forgot that they "latch on" once triggered and have to wait for a current zero crossing to drop out.
Jeff
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