CFL's & smoke

I've been reading some of the recent posts, on CFL's. Maybe I haven't read enough of them, to find the same thing, which happened to mine.
First, I'm really disappointed, they don't have the life span, as normal bulbs. My packages claim to have a life span, up to 7 years. That's probably the "got cha", the "up to". But, I've never had to replace my bulbs, as often as I do these. I've now replaced a grand total of 14, which failed prematurely. This is in a 5 month time span. These are/were the dimmable mini's, 75 watt, with a power factor of 0.90. They are listed as UL, and energy star, and claims to use only 15 watts.
Something else about these things. I've now had 3 of them go out, which let out a puff of smoke. It's a foul smelling odor. Exactly what is being released?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/20/2008 3:29 PM Ozzie spake thus:

Nothing which is any good for you, I'd guess.
As discussed here and elsewhere, the longevity of CFLs varies all over the place. My own experience has been, for the most part, the exact opposite of yours: all my CFLs, including some I bought more than 5 years ago and use all the time, are still burning nicely. Depends on the brand, etc.
I've only ever had one fail somewhat catastrophically, and it did emit a pungent, foul odor, that "cooked electronics" smell.
--
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute
conversation with the average voter.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
David Nebenzahl wrote:

My experiences are the same - only had one burn out, but that one got very hot and smelled like fried electronics. Which worries me somewhat; the main reason I'm using so many CFLs is because of the old wiring in this house; I don't want it to get fried crispy by bulb heat before I get a chance to replace it all.
But I've been here a year and a half and this is the first one I've had to replace, so... so far so good.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

probably an electrolytic cap venting,in the electronic ballast. many electrolytics only have a lifetime of a few 1000 hrs.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Don Klipstein wrote:

Hi Don,
Self destruct was one of the recommendations for the fed CFL design contest since attempting to start a bad bulb caused the most risk for a fire from component failure. One of the component manufacturers had a novel circuit that shut down when the inverter went high frequency when a bad bulb no longer provided a proper load.
The last few cfls we've opened up have either a micro fuse or a 5mm fuse in a piece of heat shrink that serves as a "jumper" between the pc board and the center lead of the lamp base. Some earlier cfls had a 0.1" piece of ~#30 magnet wire stuck between two pads on the pc board or a 22 ohm 1/4 watt resistor in series with the input. I guess it's easier to UL qualify a UL recognized fuse ;-)
-- larry / dallas
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@manx.misty.com (Don Klipstein) wrote in
The CFL is a throwaway item once it's failed;there's no point in putting in a fuse to protect the electronics,they will not be reused.
since the CFL has died,he could take it apart and look around to see what's failed.It could be a leaking cap,a burnt resistor,or fired transistor.There's not much on the ballast PCB;I've got one right here in front of me.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/21/2008 5:14 AM Jim Yanik spake thus:

>>

You seem to have missed the point; the fuse is there to protect *us* from smoking electronics.
--
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute
conversation with the average voter.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ozzie wrote:

Try a different brand, and analyze your dimmers and power in general for problems. I've used a lot of CFLs of various brands and none of them have given me any issues or short life spans, not the ones that operate a few hours a day, nor the few that are 24x365 (no, at 24x365, they last ~3 years, not 7). I haven't used many dimmable CFLs though the few I have used also worked fine.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My guess it is the smell of overheated electronics. Where I worked I was the 'Sniffer" when someone smelled something "hot" or suspicious I was asked to try and located it. Often it was the florescent lighting fixtures. We were in a 20+ story government building so we did not let these things go. Usually I was able to located it and usually we ended up call the fire and maintenance staff just to be safe. The over heated coffee pots were removed but most everything else was checked out by the pros.
I have had one or two go out early on me. I have not used any with a dimmer yet, but that time is coming. I have had good luck with the life. One or two may have failed sooner than I would have expected of a standard lamp, but most have lasted longer and are still in service.
Is there any chance that you are using them in enclosed fixtures or upside down when they are not rated for that? I don't see much today about base up vs base down but on the older ones many were marked for one or the other use.
I plan on continuing to replace lamps with CF or other high efficiency lamps as time goes on.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ive had 2 failures with HDs bulbs out of about 60 in a few years, hd has a 9 yr warranty, buy some and keep the reciept
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Can you describe these and tell me what brand? I am unaware of any 15 watt CFLs that achieve 75 watt "incandescent equivalence", and I am unaware of any making that claim and having the "Energy Star" logo.
Also, what kind of fixtures are you using them in? Many CFLs overheat easily in small enclosed fixtures and recessede ceiling fixtures.

Usually any smoke from a failing CFL is mainly smoke from burnt epoxy. Smells foul, but have low expectation that even being in a telephone booth with a CFL failing in such a way is even as harmful as smoking one cigarette.
CFLs failing from overheating can have an electrolytic capacitor blow - that has mainly been a complaint from the 1990's to around 2002. However, this may still occur if a CFL is operated in a small enclosed fixture or a recessed ceilingh fixture, or manages to last long enough for that part to fail first from old age. The main ingredients are typically water and either boric acid or sodium borate ("borax"). Sugars or other antifreeze ingredients such as ethylene glycol may be there. Since that entire capacitor including its aluminum foil "wound plates" and its aluminum "can" and plastic coating and wire leads only weighs 2-5 grams or so, I would think you would almost have to put it and your favorite beverage into a blender and then drink the result or grind it up and mix it with your pipe tobacco to make yourself sick from it.
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Here's a link of the exact bulbs. Although, I didn't buy them here, and didn't pay nearly what this place wants for them. The brand is ULA ( U Lighting America).
http://www.greenercountry.com/store/ULA-15-Watt-Dimmable-spiral-CFL-bulb-75W-Equiv-32p818.htm

The bulbs which go out, are used in a 4 bulb fixture. They're in the bathroom, over the vanity. Not enclosed. They have gone out when you flick the switch on. There's never been moisture in the bathroom, when the bulbs went out.
I also had them go out, in the lamp post outside. Weird, because all winter, none ever went out. I've replaced 3 bulbs, since winter is over.
A couple of them, have gone out in regular table lamps.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@manx.misty.com (Don Klipstein) wrote:

Don, you seem to be some sort of spokesman or at least apologist for the CFL industry. My experience is much the same as the OP and I have at least 100 CFL bulbs in the house. Why do I keep buying them? I suppose because the electricity rates in my neck of the woods are so high and I kid myself into believing that despite the high cost of replacement I still make out in the long term. One of these days I'll have to make the calculation.
As to your statement that they overheat in small enclosed and recessed ceiling fixtures, I suppose "overheat" means that they fail. Just where on the package does it say "can't be used in overhead enclosed fixtures"? I have eleven dome-shaped hall ceiling fixtures -- the type with a big glass bowl and a center (usually brass-looking) nut to hold the bowl to the ceiling (box). They're sold in HD and Lowes in contractor packs of three and last time I checked (last weekend) both retailers had huge displays of them. Oh and BTW all except the very oldest bulbs (15 or so years) all come from these retailers, not dollar stores! Now surely the manufacturers can't claim that they don't know about these fixtures (a couple were bought with CFL bulbs in them), certainly HD and Lowes can't. So if these are the type of "overhead ceiling fixtures" that shouldn't have CFL's in them where are the warning signs on both the fixtures and the bulbs? Oh, yeah and the idea is rubbish. In my bathroom I have two recessed cans over the shower (lots of steam and heat and the bulbs are totally recessed) and the CFL's in them have lasted more than seven years. Of course the shower lights aren't on for the same time as the hall each day.
I also find that the CFL's half-expire. If you get up on the ladder over the stairs and juggle the glass bowl and fitting and touch the unlit CFL...miracle of miracles...it lights. For about a week. Then you can go through the same effort again. This evening I put on the light in the room I have as an office, a six bulb CFL candelabra type in gas light type (open) shades, and one bulb didn't go on. Jiggle, and a miracle occurred... it went on. I fully expect to replace it in the next couple of weeks. BTW it's a Sylvania Deco Medium 7W. Probably about $7 each. There goes the energy saving for the year on that fixture.
You might ask why I don't exercise my right to get a new one as Commercial Electric used to advertise. I did once. 800 # and all that and put up with the abuse about enclosed fittings. No point in arguing with the girl on the line. They replaced the bulb grudgingly IMO but it was hardly worth it. The only way these sorts of guarantees are going to work is if the retailer is obliged to do a one-for-one exchange until seven years after the DOM (printed in clear on the bulb). Similar to the Sears Craftsman guarantee. Then I could just save them up and batch exchange them at HD. I'd never have to buy another light bulb.
Which brings me to another point. It's no good talking about degrees Kelvin or CRI's unless the mfg puts these on the packaging and preferably on the bulb itself. Just why can't they do this? And why can't they calculate the degrees Kelvin and CRI for (say) a GE Soft White 60W incandescent bulb and produce exactly those numbers in a CFL? No BS about "daylight" or "Kitchen and Bath", just "This CFL is EXACTLY the same as [a standard incandescent bulb]." I think that that statement (if truthful) would be a big selling point.
As to longevity when you were dealing with an incandescent costing $0.25 I and most people would put up with an "average life." If we had one fail before this time we'd shrug and accept that probably we had others that lasted twice the average. That's not true when bulbs cost $5 and up (yeah, by the gross and on sale you can sometimes get them for $1 or so, but somehow that never seems to work for me). For CFL's I'd like to see average life and minimum life (expressed in years unless the mfg wants to come up with some sort of odometer).
Oh yeah, and delay in coming up to speed (the other thread). I have the same experience as the other OP and not in a garage but, for example, in the kitchen. I have one four tube normal fluorescent, one two tube, one equivalent 150W CFL and one equivalent 100W CFL. The tube types light up almost as fast as an incandescent to full brightness. The CFL's ... well, don't plan on reading anything for a couple of minutes. Same goes in the bedrooms one of which has 15 CFL 40W equivalents. Light a candle first so you can see for the first minute or two<g>.
Nope CFL's are not yet ready for prime time.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On May 21, 12:41am, snipped-for-privacy@Somewhere.edu wrote:

I havnt tried HDs warranty yet but I wonder if its a walk in deal, it better be. Ive had very good luck with HD soft white cfl even on getting bright quickly, even working at -10f. Considering that about 95 watts of a 100 watt incandesant is output in heat, meaning I get 5 watts of visable light out of a 100 watt bulb, and that 11, 100 watt incandesants will just put an extra load on my AC this summer equivilant to running a 1000 watt electric heater, I find cfls the smartest option. On several buildings I have cut electric usage 30-50%, im willing to give up a few things to save not only on lighting costs but on the AC electric bill. I have these running years all night on a photo cell. Their longest life is constant on, but in years it seems even more to me. I saw there are maybe 20-30 manufacturers in China, so sure there is alot of crap and defects made. ACE has a easy return policy on everything, I just hope HD does as well.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@Somewhere.edu wrote in part:

On the worse brand ones that can't, they don't say so. Just last week I saw on some Philips ones state on the package a "reliable temperature range" (I may not remember the exact words) whose upper limit is 60 degrees C, and that life can be shortened in recessed cans. Philips has some others specifically rated for use in recessed cans.

At Home Depot I have little trouble finding degrees K, and CRI is rated 82 unless the bulb is a really off-brand (usually a dollar store stool specimen, a plant light, or specifically rated to have CRI other than 82.

Color temp. varies a bit - u7pper 2700's for the 1000 hour version, usually a little less for others. CRI of those is 100 by definition of CRI.

I see enough 14 and 15 watt spirals that look the same color to me as a 60 watt incandescent. The CRI is 82 because of the spectrum of the kind of phosphor that can economically be made and made to last in the higher intenisty duty of CFLs. So far, Philips and Commercial Electric are the brands I remember as having most-incandescentlike color. GE appears to me to be a tiny hair on the pinkish side. Sylvania appears to me to do so more, especially with their usual 3000 K shade. It appears to me that this is to go the opposite way of the most complaints - with erring to greenish widely considered more objectionable.
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 22 May 2008 22:06:26 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@manx.misty.com (Don Klipstein) wrote:

Interesting: almost all of the compact swirly flourescents in this house are Philips brand, and they're pretty nice, not a whole lot different from incandescents. I've got one off-brand that is incredibly pink, almost to the point that I'm not sure it's even worth using because the hue is so weird it almost doesn't even illuminate. I'll probably stay with the Philips when I need to replace these bulbs, which I anticipate won't be for a while!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've either had very good luck or very bad luck as far a CFL lifespan goes. I have many that are over 8 years and still going strong. I did get one batch of six where the bulbs didn't even last 3 months.
I sent an email to the manufacturer, letting them know where they were purchased, the date code on the bulb, about the installation and short lifespan. They happily mailed out replacements and they're going strong. It can't hurt to drop them a message.
Did you purchase all the bulbs at the same time, or from the same store? All one brand? I'd try another brand just to see if it makes a difference.
I also mark the installation date on the base of the bulb so I can get a good idea of how long these things acutally last.
--
Fight Usenet Spam!!! - http://improve-usenet.org:80 /

Want a great newsgroup reader that will filter out the flood of
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.