A building I'm working at has some brick lights - j-boxes recessed into a
wall, and a cover plate on them - that illuminate walkways. The owners
have changed the incandescent bulbs to fluorescent.
I saw a note on the cover of a light that said the tested voltage was 130V.
Would a fluorescent light (small twisty bulb) be able to take 130V? Will
this voltage affect the life of the bulb?
I haven't tested to see if the voltage is indeed 130V, Thought I'd ask
here first in case there was something else I should look at, such as the
model number of the bulb.
I would ask the CFL manufacturer. And if you get bad news, I would ask
other CFL manufacturers.
And I would only use ones that are UL listed, have an FCC ID, and the
Energy Star logo, preferably of "Big 3" brands (GE, Sylvania and Philips).
Especially important is UL listing as "self ballasted lamp". This is
"reasonable assurance" that the CFL will not start a fire if it has
failure of its electronics.
FCC ID is another regulatory hurdle that is actually required of CFLs
with electronic ballasts, yet I have seen many (all being dollar store
stool specimens) without this. And I have known a dollar store stool
specimen to have been hit with a recall for having its plastic ballast
housing not being made of flame-retardant plastic.
"Energy Star" logo is some indication of quality.
"Big 3" brand means someone stands to lose big in a lawsuit if one of
their lightbulbs burns a building down.
Meanwhile, I have found it to be a common complaint for household line
voltage to be high - like 126 to 130 volts. One friend of mine had
household voltage averaging 127-128 volts - and he and his neighbors
called the power company to get the voltage cranked down a little. My
apartment in the complex that I used to live in had voltage averaging
124 volts. My current line voltage as I type this is 125 volts (it has
been as low as 121 before). CFL manufacturers should be taking this into
One more thing: This sounds like the fixtures are enclosed. I advise a
couple of things to reduce overheating of the CFLs:
1. Use ones rated for heat-hellholes such as recessed ceiling fixtures.
That includes Philips triple arch SLS/"Marathon" units of 15, 20, and 23
watts and non-dimmable. The 15 watt one is especially good for such
2. Otherwise, avoid ones over 13 watts. 18 watt spirals may be OK - they
usually hold up in ceiling fan fixtures. I would avoid 14, 15, 19 and 20
watt spirals, especially 15 and 20 watt spirals, since sometimes their
ballasts heat up more. 13 and 18 watt wattages came about largely from
improvements in the efficiency of the ballasts - so the ballasts heat up
When line voltage is high, I would avoid magnetic ballasts. Excessive
voltage tends to have only harm to an electronic ballast being shorter
life and greater odds of blowing out with an audible pop sound. Magnetic
ballasts with moderate or moderately severe overvoltage can overheat and
possibly catch fire. Magnetic ballasts for CFLs in my experience lack
"Class P" thermal protection.
So far, I have yet to see a spiral CFL with a magnetic ballast.
Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ok, I can believe you. I'll test it myself, maybe tomorrow. In the
meantime, some more info to see if it helps. The building is a condo high
rise in San Francisco, CA, 17 stories.
The notes I saw were in pencil on the outside plate of the bricklights and
were done in 1969! I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that they were done by
competent electricians during construction or remodeling of the building
(don't know how old the building is). If this is true, is it likely that
it was a preformance test of some sort that used 130V? Is it likely that a
building of this size would have 130V, in 1969? Is it possible that the
160 bricklights would have been on 130V on purpose? Or is it impossible to
get 130V to one or three circuits if the rest of the building is
I'm asking mostly for curiosity now and to help the HOA if there's likely
to be a problem.
I will check tomorrow, but I only have a feeble meter, so I'm not too sure
of the results. I can at least compare the bricklight sockets to the
email@example.com (Charles Bishop) wrote:
The meter said 120VAC, as near as can be determined from the smallish one
I'm still curious why, in 1969, there would have been a reading of 130VAC.
I suppose it could have been an out of spec meter.
Did the note actually say that 130 v is a measured value? In a small
enclosure like you describe using 130 v lamps on 120 v gives a
significant increase in lamp life, typically 2.5 x longer life. Yes, it
won't be as bright, but will still be adequate to illuminate a walkway.
CFLs in small enclosures fail quite quickly in my experience. They
don't have much life at high temperatures.
It was in pencil on the outside metal of the cover plate. Along with a
1969 date. I don't have any assurance that the measurement had any
accuracy, since I don't know how it was taken. I was a bit surprised by
the figure so I asked here. I've since measured the voltage with my small
VOM and I got a value of about 120, but dont know how accurate mine is. I
did get the same value on the outlets in the interior hallways.
In general, I'm still curious about the 130V. It was on several of the
covers, as if it had been a deliberate test to verify the voltage in these
boxes. I was wondering if 130V could have been usual, or there for a
reason in 1969, 40 years ago.
charles, you need the higher voltage to get the electrons up to the 18th
On Oct 4, 9:54�pm, firstname.lastname@example.org (Charles Bishop) wrote:
in 3 phase buildings and some industrial applications i have found
wierd voltages, you dont know at one time a buck boost transformer may
have been used, to say increase light output.
locally it appears some electricians are idiots I hate dealing with
them for my repair machine repair business, way too many wierd voltage
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