I have a problem with a 3-way lamp. The problem started with the
contact for the higher-wattage filament not making good contact with
the bulb base, causing the lamp to flicker and the bulb to burn out
prematurely. On inspection I found that the socket contacts were
pitted, almost certainly from arcing, so I replaced the socket with a
new one I bought at an antique lamp store. That fixed the problem for
a few weeks, but soon the problem recurred. Thinking that the lamp
store might carry subpar sockets, I bought another replacement at our
local Home Depot. I got the same result - problem solved for a few
weeks. It occurred to me that I may have single-sourced the sockets -
either the lamp shop buys them from Home Depot, or they both buy them
from the same manufacturer.
Does anyone know of a high-quality brand of light sockets? Is there
any difference between brands of 3-way light bulbs that could account
for the arcing?
I could have written this myself. In fact, I did sometime back. I was
to find a socket any different for those at Ace or HD. I came to
the conclusion that the high wattage lamps really draw too much
for the 3-way sockets, and the lighting industry has never
the problem. The answer for us has been to go to the halogen lamps
to get sufficient light for reading.
I had same problem. Solved by installing a normal socket (one filament) Then
using a 300 watt bulb and added a dimmer. A touch type dimmer. Have had same
bulb for several years. On "high" full wattage is not attained, but out
performs the 3 way bulb. Warren
I did the same thing on four metal bodied table lamps in our house,
hiding the dimmers inside the lamp bases. Am using a single 150 watt
bulb in one and a pair of 75 watt bulbs in Y adaptors in the remainder.
They worked just great, but every once in a while a bulb would burn out
with one of those damn "tungsten arcs" which pulled enough current to
fry the touch dimmer.
I got tired of having to buy new dimmers and go through the bother of
replacing the old one whenever that happened.
Then I woke up and checked the data sheets which showed that a 2 amp 3AG
style fast blow fuse had an I^2*t "total clearing" fast enough to
protect the little triac in the dimmer.
I stuck panel style fuseholders through the side of the lamp bases. It
worked. Most of the time when a bulb burns out now the fuse remains OK,
but once in a while, when the fuse goes along with the bulb, I know the
dimmer just escaped a violent death.
Shortly after I installed those fuseholders I found one lamp wasn't
working, and the fuseholder cap was lying on the table next to it. I was
scratching my head thinking WTF, until I realized that it was the work
of our cleaning lady, who never quite understood the touch dimmers and
decided that the fuseholder cap was some kind of a knob which had to be
turned to shut off the lamp. <G>
Due to the double contact arrangement in the bottom, three way lamps are
often not tightened adequately to make secure connection with both contacts.
This will lead to overheating and socket failure. If you will ensure that
all contacts are clean and tight you will probably solve the problem.
Another bit that may complicate things: It surely appears to me that
there are more problems from overtightening than from undertightening when
people screw in lightbulbs!
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
I put in a Y-adapter and two standard 100 watt bulbs. Gives adequate light
for reading but light level cannot be reduced.
Did this because three-way bulbs with two filaments seem to burn out one or
both in short order. --- SJF
Don has the answer. Clean the contacts as best you can. An eraser
works well. Get them shinny. Then make sure the are not flattened to the
bottom of the socket. Then clean the lamp base as well. Now when you
install the lamp make sure it is snug. If you like you may also use some of
the grease designed specifically for electrical contacts.
The problem I have with this answer is the original poster said he
replaced the socket twice with brand new ones. Presumably, he
replaced the bulb at the same time. So he had everything totally
new off the shelf, and the problem persisted. Moreover,
I can attest to exactly the same sequence. So I can't quite
buy the argument. Nonetheless, I'm gonna try it. I'll put in a new
burnish the contact and pull it up, get a brand new bulb and polish
screw it in real tight and see what happens.
As long as you are not using a lamp larger than specified for the lamp
you should not be having problems. I have seen new lamps with contact
problems. However you are right about the lamp, we often overlook the
problem of the lamp contacts needing cleaning as well.
When you say "As long as you are not using a lamp larger than
specified for the lamp " I assume you mean
not using bulb with wattage higher than specified for the lamp. But
the thing is, to my knowledge,
all the 3-way sockets are the same throughout the land, regardless of
what lamp they are
mounted on. If this is true, then it must be that either (a) all lamps
with 3-way sockets can
safely and reliably be fitted with 300-max 3-way bulbs, or (b) none of
them can. If the
latter is true, what are all those 300 watt bulbs doing on the
They come in different wattages. I have used 30-70-100 50-100-150
amd your 100-200-300 and I believe I have seen a few others.
I would expect that using a 300W in a lamp designed for 100W could cause
I'll second others' suggestion about cleaning the contacts and making sure the bulb
is screwed in tightly.
But here's an additional idea: use a compact flourescent bulb (yes, 3-way ones are
available). The reduced current and heat
might be easier on the contacts.
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