I had recessed lighting installed in my family room a few month ago,
and I have a few problems with them. The burnout rate is very high: I
have 12 cans, and I already had to change about 10 bulbs in this few
The fixtures are 4'', bulbs -- 50W, and I have 2 dimmers -- each
controlling 6 lights. The bulb goes in very deep -- almost all of it
is above the reflector (is it normal?). Maybe I am bying wrong bulbs?
Maybe I have to use a socket extender?
Also what's the deal with energy-saving bulbs? Would you recommend
Thanks a lot for your help.
You didn't mention the type of bulb. Are these 50-watt PAR20 halogens
by chance? Are they a name brand (e.g., Sylvania, GE or Philips)?
At one time, I had used an off-name brand PAR20 (Globe) and found they
burned out all too frequently. When I switched to Sylvania, the
failure rate dropped appreciably. I can't explain the difference in
service life, but it was unmistakable. These bulbs are exposed to
intense heat due to the design of these fixtures and perhaps this has
some bearing on their relative performance.
Energy saving compact fluorescents may be an alternative if they are
compatible with your dimmers or, if not, provided you replace these
dimmers with an on/off switch. Then again, heat build-up inside these
fixtures may shorten their life as well. Unless you live in a cooling
dominate climate and these lights operate several hours a day, I would
probably stick with halogens. And if you do use halogens, make sure
you run them at full brightness at least ten per cent of the time to
allow the "halogen cycle" to do its thing; unlike incandescent lamps,
constant dimming of halogens can actually shorten their life.
Thanks for the additional info. A standard R20 has a rated life of
2,000 hours (the Philips DuraMax is 2,500 hours) and that's pretty
much in line with most PAR20 halogens (a 120-volt Philips
50PAR20/HAL/FL25 is rated at 3,000 hours).
The big difference is in terms of light output. A 50-watt R20 bulb
produces about 330 to 350 lumens whereas the equivalent halogen is in
the order of 520 to 550 lumens; that's more than 1.5 times the amount
of light of an incandescent reflector. This light is also cleaner and
crisper in appearance due to its higher colour temperature.
The downside is that the light spread is narrower (tighter beam), so
you'll have to determine for yourself if this would be a problem.
However, if it were my call, I would opt for the halogen.
I found when I put in recessed lights in my house, I liked them so
much I was using them more often. Especially since i put them on a
dimmer. As a result, I was buring through bulbs. The life I was
getting, was only about 3-4 months. It seems that the continous hour
rating, is continous, and on/off operations seems to eat up hours.
What I did, I went to 'double life' bulbs. So far getting almost 6
months. With so many lights(9), it seems that twice a month I have a
dead bulb. Just luck of the draw.
As for CFL's, there is warnings about not using them on dimmers. As
for dimmible ones, I think the smallest is like a PR30 (for a 6"
can?), that I've seen.
Good luck with your results, please post anything that might help.
tom @ www.Consolidated-Loans.info
It would help to know the make and model of the fixture, as well as the lamp
type, but a typical standard four inch recessed would use either a par or R
lamp, which get pretty hot. I've found with "Halo" brand , which are non
adjustable, a one inch porcelain socket extender brings the lamp closer to
the plane of the ceiling where it gives more light, and the heat from the
lamp is dissipated so the lamps last longer. I would also use GE lamps if
you can afford them
I've had customers with the same complaint, using 50R 20 reflector floods in
that same fixture. Usually with Sylvania lamps. Philips lamps are pretty
good, and IMHO, second only to GE in quality, but the bottom line is that
they solved the problem. I do recommend however using the one inch socket
extension, as you'll get more light out of the fixture
Thank you everybody.
For now I installed socket extensions, and continue using Philips
DuraMax 50R20. There is definitely more light in the room. I'll see
how it goes with the burnout rate.
I also bought one PAR20, just to try. It does claim much more lumen,
but frankly, I can't see much difference... Maybe it's because it's
shorter, and sits deeper in the fixture, even with the socket
extension? Anyway, for now I am OK with R20, unless they continue burn
out like before.
Mostly because there is much more light. When I don't use socket
extender, the lower part of the bulb is at the upper edge of the
reflector. Maybe this *is* the right setup, but I have some problems
with it: first, it's very difficult to screw the bulbs in and out... I
mean *very* difficult. Sometimes I need to first remove the reflector
to be able to unscrew the bulb. Second, there is much less light than
if the bulb is closer to the ceiling level, as with the socket
extender. And third, despite the reflector, most of light goes down,
so the upper part of the walls is very dark... This also is better
with the socket extenders.
I also hope that getting bulbs lower might put them in easier condition
in terms of heating, and they may burn out not so often.
Maybe I am doing something wrong, but this is my first experience with
the recessed lights, and so far I am not very happy :-( I imagine the
total of 600W of light would make the 250 feet room very bright if it
were a regular fixture. But until I used socket extenders, there was
not much light at all...
BTW, does the quality of the reflector makes much difference?
Recessed incandescent lighting is not an efficient nor cost-effective
way to light a room. I have a dozen Halo H99RTfixtures equipped with
specular reflector cones in my living room. I had previously used
50-watt PAR20 halogen lamps but about two years ago swapped them out
for GE's 21-watt Diamond Precise product.
The Diamond Precise is basically a low-voltage MR16 lamp with an
internal 120 to 12-volt transformer and standard Edison screw base
(meaning that they will work with this type of fixture). It has a
rated service life of 5,000 hours and produces 260 lumens. Although
this is about half the light output of a standard halogen PAR20, less
light is lost inside the fixture housing so the difference in light
levels is perhaps not as great as you might think (and compared to a
50-watt incandescent R20 at 330 lumens, there should be little or no
appreciable difference). They run much cooler than a 50-watt halogen
and are easy to insert and remove due to their smaller size. Most
importantly, power demand dropped from 600-watts to just 252-watts.
This is a picture of the Halo fixture with the Diamond Precise lamp:
This is a close-up of the lamp itself:
You should be able to purchase these lamps at any lighting distributor
that sells GE products.
The new energy saving bulbs are great but...
They seem to take a while to reach full brightness which in many
applications is a real bonus but not in all. I have one over the
kitchen sink and in both bathrooms. It is great when you first get up
in the morning and go to the bathroom or kitchen to start the coffee.
Turn on the light and it comes up slowly. Not near the shock to my old
eyes in the darkness.
Most will NOT work on a dimmer circuit. I have yet to find any of the
energy saving bulbs that will work on the dimmer.
Most compact fluorescents should not be used here because:
1) Most are not rated for use with dimmers. A few are.
2) Most that are not specifically rated for use in recessed ceiling
fixtures are likely to overheat in such fixtures.
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Beg to differ with you don. CFL's throw less heat and are recommended for
recessed lighting. Below is a quote from a mfgr.
Versatile: CFL's can be applied nearly anywhere that incandescent lights are
used. Energy-efficient CFL's can be used in recessed fixtures, table lamps,
ceiling fixtures and porchlights. 3-way CFL's are also now available for
lamps with 3-way settings.
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