Has anyone noticed that Compact Florescent bulbs burn out at the same
time? The first time I thought it was a coincidense, but it just
happened again. The last time I had 2 of them in a kitchen ceiling
fixture. I installed both at the same time, same fixture, on the same
switch. One bulb burned out, a few days later the other one did.
(these were the ones that stick straight out of the base)
Now, it's the bathroom. The bathroom has one switch that controls two
identical wall mounted fixtures on each side of the mirror. About 10
days ago I turned on the bathroom lights and one of the CF bulbs went
up in smoke (literally). There was a shower of sparks in the base of
the bulb, and a puff of smoke, which ended the bulb. I replaced that
one with a standard bulb. Today I went in the bathroom, flipped on
the lights and the other CF bulb started flashing on an off and
seconds later it got real dim and then died. (these were the twisted
type, and both were installed at the same time).
This is more than coincidense.
Note: There is nothing wrong with the wiring, switch or fixtures.
I am going back to standard bulbs though. The CF bulbs do not have
anywhere near the life they state, in fact standard bulbs seem to last
much longer. For the price of these CF bulbs and their short lives, I
dont think I am saving any money. Sure they use about 60% less power,
but they cost ten times as much as regular bulbs. Besides that, after
watching that one go up in smoke, I think they are a fire hazzard.
I talked with a guy in a large department store replacing flourescent bulbs
about the 1-2 problem. He said a failing bulb also extinguished the good
bulb but his procedure was to rather than try to find the bad bulb to simply
replace them both as they are cheap and aged at the same rate so that the
"good" bulb was nearly aged out anyway.
I understand that many facilities with a large number of lighting
fixtures (whether fluorescent or incandescent) will figure out a
schedule according to which they simply replace all the bulbs/tubes at
once rather than have to keep coming back and replace one or two here
and there. Costs less in the long run.
On 07/26/05 01:47 am Blue tossed the following ingredients into the
ever-growing pot of cybersoup:
Yep, when I worked in an office once, they had a service come out and
change all the bulbs all in the overhead lights. They did this on a
periodic basis. The workers had stilts so they could reach the lights
Helped keep the place nice and bright as well.
On 7/26/2005 8:06 AM or thereabouts, Percival P. Cassidy appears,
somewhat unbelievably, to have opined:
True. Having worked in retail for over 20 years I have seen this several
times. The firm I work for used to use a service that traveled all over
the U. S. They would come around about every 3 years and change out
every fluorescent tube in the building using scissor lifts. They worked
overnight and would take a couple of days to finish a store. I remember
talking with some of the crew members. One of them told me he got a lot
of funny reactions from people when he replied to their question of
"What do you do for a living?" with "I change light bulbs."
We now use a different firm which comes around once a month and replaces
only the tubes that are out at that time.
As a child, my parents thought I was an idiot-savant.
Now, however, it is rather clear that I\'m simply an idiot.
Apples and oranges....
That guy was probably referring to lamps in fixtures where two bulbs are
fed by one ballast. That's not the case with the kind of CFs you describe.
There is no technical reason I can think of relating to the bulbs
themselves which would explain why two CFs fail "about the same time"
other than excellent design life calculations and manufacture with
identical molecules in the same places in all the components of the
But, possibly the second CF in the event you described was damaged by an
inductive spike caused by the first bulb arcing across the line. That's
more of a cause and effect relating to the type of failure of the first
bulb than it would be a design life factor.
Your "short life" problems are likely due to poor quality bulbs or
something strange about your home's power, like frequent spikes and
surges. I've been using about 15 CFs for over 5 years in various spots
in our home, including in the outside lamps straddling our front door,
and haven't lost one yet.
That makes sense. It would also make sense to replace all the CF's that
are in the same fixture and have had the same usage as the ones that still
work are likely close to the end of their life and are likely now not as
bright as when new.
This is mainly for 2-foot and longer fluorescents, as well as some
ballastless compact fluorescents in 2-bulb fixtures that have separate
2-bulb ballasts somewhere in the fixture (not the usual screw-base compact
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
I don't know where you buy the bulbs, but ten times cost is way out of line.
I pay more like 2 bucks per fluorescent when bot in four or six packs. The
price differential between the local hardware store and Home Depot is about
3 to 4 times the cost. Are you buying on the corner store? I also am getting
very long life from them, and am getting the same light output for about a
third to a quarter of the wattage. Three or four years ago I replaced about
35-40 incandescents in and outside the house with CF, and only two or three
have burned out, at different times, not together. I am convince that the
burn-outs were premature due to bad qual. control in the earlier models.
Either you have bought older stock, a bogus brand, or may have surges,
moisture (bath) or other probs with your wiring or switch system. I think,
at least from my experience, they are reliable and cheap for what they do.
I know of one affecting one model known to be sold under 2 brands, and
I guess not all production runs of that model.
Brands affected are "Commercial Electric" and "DuraBright". The model
is a 3-way spiral with highest brightness claimed to be equal/comparable
to 150 watts incandescent.
Please keep in mind that screw-in compact fluorescents equivalent to
more than 60-75 watts incandescent often do not do well in small enclosed
fixtures nor in downlights.
Other compact fluorescent stuff - the bad, the ugly and the mostly good:
My "compact fluorescent top page",
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
You mean when the top of the bulb is pointing toward the ground?
That's odd because the ones that burned out pointed toward the ceiling
and there are no enclosures at all. On the other hand, the ones in my
garage are common porcelein fixtures like those in basements. Those
have never burned out.
I have three of them in a kitchen fixture. One of them burned out in a
relatively short time period, replaced it and all OK for now. Got them
from Home Depot, brought it back and got another one based on 7 yr. life
warranty. I guess we both experienced the "infant mortality" syndrome.
Am I the only one who have had good luck with them?
I started using them 15 years ago and they are at or living beyond expected
life. I have a mini spiral type in a porch fixture that I installed in the
early spring of 04. It is left on continuously and has has not quit yet. I
do avoid using them base up where the heat can reduce the life. I am also
avoiding brands such as GE and Lights of America that seem to have a problem
with lamp life.
The explanation may be heat. A significant heatwave has
made the national news a little bit. Integral-ballast compact
fluorescents, especially 15 watts or more, often have problems with
ceiling fixtures and small enclosed fixtures and downlights. Philips SLS
non-dimmable versions up to 20 watts are better, and their 23 watt
non-dimmable version is also rated for use in recessed ceiling downlights.
Compact fluorescents do not take heat as well as incandescents, and
produce more non-radiant heat than incandescents of same wattage (but at
least normally less than incandescents of same light output). Compact
fluorescents produce little infrared, so almost all energy failing to
become visible light becomes heat in the fixture as opposed to a fair
amount materializing in the same room but outside the fixture.
Maybe heat, maybe a line voltage surge from lightning damaging but not
outright killing the bulbs (line voltage surge damage is more often but
not necessarily either immediately fatal or negligible-zero).
I now see not-too-bad compact fluorescent bulbs for about $4-$5 apiece,
great ones for about $8, and frequent promotional specials at home centers
for ones at least "fair" amounting to $2 per bulb or less.
Power savings are more typically 65-70%, in good cases 75%.
Some compact fluorescents are bad and some situations do not call for
* Dollar store compact fluorescents in my somewhat major experience are
lousy to outright rubbish. I buy them mainly to report on them.
Complaints are many, including color, light output, light output in
comparison to claims of light output, and a high rate of scary early
* I have seen a bad run or two of 25 watt spirals, of both GE and Lights
of America brands.
* Lights of America is a brand where I have had a disproportionate share
of early failures and other disappointments, although their spirals made
after 2001 may be as good as other brands of spirals.
* Compact fluorescents, especially of higher wattages and/or other than
non-dimmable Philips SLS types up to 23 watts, often do not do well in
small enclosed fixtures and downlights due to heat buildup.
Most commercial/institutional buildings with compact fluorescent ceiling
fixtures have different bulbs that do not include ballasts, and the
ballasts are located in the fixture usually out of view.
* Fluorescents in general, and especially ones smaller and of lower
wattage than 4-footers, tend to be uneconomical when on-time is short.
Low duty cycle makes payback of energy savings longer, and frequent
starts cause extra wear. Rated life is typically specified by the
manufacturer to be typically achieved with 3 hours average runtime per
start. I generally do not recommend compact fluorescents for motion
sensor lights, closet lights, refrigerator lights, nor for bathroom lights
that are mostly used for short trips.
Some more details in:
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
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