Blue lights and little ghosts!

My elderly mother has called with a strange problem - her bulbs have started flickering blue and with what she described as little "caspar ghost" shapes forming inside the glass. My sister has seen this too, and they called in an electrician who examined the meter, but said they must have the "wrong kind of bulbs" ("Probably B&Q", he said).
Anyone here got any ideas what's going wrong? By the way, there's a mix of bulbs types and this only happened in the last 48 hours...
Cheers!

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You got an electrician round within 48 hours? To check light bulbs?
How the hell did you manage that? All the ones round here take at least two weeks before they even phone back and then aren't interested unless you want to rewire something the size of Telecom Tower!
Tony
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Jim wrote:

You're trolling, right?
--
Grunff

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You haven't got Yvette Fielding and the Most Haunted crew hanging around outside by chance?
Cheers Clive
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No troll and no imagination ... believe me, I was as puzzled as anyone, which is why I posted. My mother lives in Glasgow, I live in Bristol. She called the Scottish electricity board at midnight and they had someone out at 9am - not to check the bulbs as such, to check the supply because they assumed there was a problem with the meter or whatever. The electrician checked the meter and said all was well, then checked the bulbs and said they were probably the wrong type. Now THAT sounds like a troll!!!!
So this one's for real - as I say, my sister has seen it, and loopy as she is, this has actually happened. right in the middle of Glasgow in an old tenement flat. Nothing to do with having a wee dram either...
Of course technical description is not my elderly mother's strong point, so I'm having to use her somewhat colourful descriptions until someone comes up with something better.
Would have been a good troll through, and I expect it's made someone jealous, but no, this is for real.
Jim

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Jim wrote:

Sounds like intense RF field or static field.
She hasn't been knitting a van de graaf generator on the sly...?
Or stroking that cats too hard?

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We have some Phillips ecotone low energy lamps and one of them continues to flicker intermittently with a bluish light for hours (most of the night!) after it's been switch off. I thought at first that maybe the light switch had a high resistance bridge when "off" but I've moved the lamp and it still does it. I assume then that there must be some residual discharge within the bulb - is there some PF capacitor or something like that?

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Sounds very like a Tesla effect from an energy saver lamp. If the cable to the lamp fitting isn't earthed, as in a two core flex, then the earth in the ceiling rose may be drawing some current from the neutral and causing the lamp to flicker, but this normally happens only when the lamp is switched off.
Try checking that the lamp holder is properly connected and the spring contacts are firmly making against the lamp when inserted. Make sure the lamp holder bayonet clips aren't broken. Also check that the lamp isn't becoming damp on the outside, maybe from condensation in the room, and that it isn't arcing a spark along the outside of the lamp back to the holder. If there is any arcing within the lamp holder, or along the lamp itself, it might, just might, be the cause.
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BigWallop wrote:

A "Tesla effect" being what exactly?
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If it is an energy saver lamp, then it can cause this.
http://www.charles.a.hobson.btinternet.co.uk /
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BigWallop wrote:

BW - I know what a Tesla /coil/ is - I've built a few. My question was what is the Tesla effect you're referring to in conjuntion with compact fluorescents?
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Sorry Grunff. I didn't read who had asked the question. I mean when a charged capacitor or coil discharges along the length of outside of the lamp envelope to an earth or neutral, or vice versa, and creates a small blue hazy spark on its travels. I've always called this a Tesla effect.
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wrote:

No, but if it really is demonic posession then Ghostbusters are in Gloucester and I'm sure they;d love to take a look !

I'm assuming that all of these are compact fluorescents ? There are way that CFs can emit all sorts of odd squeaks and flashes, but I can't see how it would happen with an incandescent.
Is there a bizarre amount of HF electricity coming in from the mains ? Any huge UFOs parked in the back garden, or even a mad inventor / dope grower / new substation next door ?
-- Do whales have krillfiles ?
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Or even a dope growing mad inventor who is building a huge UFO in the new substation next door?
Darren
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Thanks for the ideas, guys. I'll investigate a bit more and let you know what I find...

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upon when these stange blue lights started, and could the "little ghosts" be due to an incorrectly installed Wi-FI http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/69/34894.html "One of the issues which is of concern, of course, is public fear of "radiation" which has led to many pressure groups. It doesn't seem to matter whether there's any evidence at all of a health hazard - just the sight of a mobile phone mast can trigger fears of the invisible power beaming out of it. So it will be a relief to all politicians to know that the new 63 GHz network is far, far less powerful - at 200 milliwatts, the highway net transceivers will produce around half of one per cent of the full power of a mobile phone mast."
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Jim wrote:

Hello Jim,
Has the lady just had some new specs? I have for years had chromatic aberration with mine - blue light is slightly defocussed. It's not usually noticeable but at work where there were blue lamps over doors, from a few feet away I saw them as being slightly fuzzy but with a nicely focussed filament image inside in the colours that were left! Many of the specs-wearers I asked didn't get this effect, I never tried to find out why...
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Thanks for all the suggestions!...
I wasn't trolling, but if I didn't know better I would say that my mother was. I was up there at the weekend for other reasons, but the mysterious blue lights and little ghosts failed to appear. The first sister still claims she saw it, but my other sister, like me, could see nothing.
Then my mother said that to see the effect best, you had to stare straight at the 100W unshielded lamp for several minutes...
Right.
Next time, before I post, I'll Easyjet it up there and check if she's been taking her aspirin... :-)
Jim

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Jim wrote: :: Thanks for all the suggestions!... :: :: I wasn't trolling, but if I didn't know better I would say :: that my mother was. I was up there at the weekend for other :: reasons, but the mysterious blue lights and little ghosts :: failed to appear. The first sister still claims she saw it, :: but my other sister, like me, could see nothing. :: :: Then my mother said that to see the effect best, you had to :: stare straight at the 100W unshielded lamp for several :: minutes... :: :: Right. :: :: Next time, before I post, I'll Easyjet it up there and check :: if she's been taking her aspirin... :-) :: :: Jim
She'll be seeing pixies on her 'magic mushrooms' next ;-)
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Too true... <g> Why can't she just have a wee dram like everyone else? Staring at lamp bulbs for heaven's sake...
Jim

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