Light Bulbs Blowing Frequently

I have encountered a strange problem with light bulbs. We moved into this house in September 2004 and have since spent a small fortune on light bulbs. The house is seven years old and everything in the panel looks good.

The brand, the wattage, and location seem to have little effect on the life of the bulbs. Some bulbs I have replaced twice in one week!

I began checking voltage in fixtures and outlets. My average voltage is 124V. I have seen it as high as 127V. Someone told me that even small overvoltages like this shorten the life of light bulbs. I contacted my local utility and they put a voltage monitor on at my meter. That was a couple of weeks ago and I haven't heard from them yet.

It would be nice if I could get light bulbs to last more than 60 days. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thank you.

Steve Lockridge, Manager Alfa Transformer Fort Smith, Arkansas

Reply to
steve
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1: look for and obtain 130 volt light bulbs. they are often labeled "industrial"

2: install dimmer switches and never turn them up to full.

3: (more expensive) install buck/boost transformer on the lighting circuits of the house to reduce the voltage by about 10 volts.
Reply to
TimPerry
+-5% appears to be acceptable for 120v service... That works out to 114v - 126v.

Here's a PG&E document for your reading:

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Some suggestions:

- Check with a neighbor to see if they also are having a voltage problem. If they aren't, check your panel again.

- Use 130v bulbs.

- Personally, I'd ride the problem out for a little while longer, and see what the utility company says.

Eric

Reply to
E. Hill

Chances are, you share a transformer with a neighbor, so if they are not experiencing the same thing, then it's probably your own wiring. If this happens in particular places, but not all over the house, then you may have a neutral problem. Check and see if there is a three wire circuit feeding the problem area. If so, go through the neutral connections until you find that high resistance, or intermittant joint. This problem would typically manifest itself with some brightening lights. have you seen that happen? Also, you may have a device or appliance in the house that is putting a spike out on your system when it switches on, and / or off.. Is there anything that causes a large sag or sudden brightness when it starts or stops?

Reply to
Long Ranger

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You could have a poor neutral connection in the panel or meter pan.

Ed

Reply to
ehsjr

I will check neutral connections in the panel. This light bulb thing is occurring all over the house so I am certain it isn't limited to one circuit. I have new neighbors next door so I will ask them to keep an eye on their light bulb usage. We are served by the same transformer. The only thing I've noticed with lights dimming or getting brighter is when a hair dryer is kicked on. I think that is limited to the circuit in that specific bathroom. I haven't noticed anything else doing that like the a/c unit, refrigerator, freezer, etc. I was trying to avoid the 130V bulbs because they are more expensive. I am currently trying out some long-life bulbs and some fluorescent replacement bulbs. I have a fluorescent fixture in the kitchen and it has worked fine since we moved in.

Reply to
steve

Having recently had large voltage fluctuations at my home, from a bad neutral connection, I urge you to check that out. In my case, the problem was under the panel. That may not be the case for you.

You do not mention whether or not you are supplied by an Edison three-wire

+- 120V and neutral system or not. If that is the case, then a loose neutral can be the problem, but it would take a bit more searching to find it.

In my case, I observed that the voltage between hots was about 240V just as it should be. Various loads, however, caused the neutral voltage to bounce up and down. If you have two meters put one between hot and neutral of one side. Put the other meter between the other hot and neutral. The two readings should add up to 240V even though there may be fluctuations on the meters. This assumes that the neutral points are well connected. You might check the voltage between the neutral and protective ground. That should be less than a volt.

If you are truly getting 127V at an outlet with good wiring, that is something your power company should correct. Meanwhile, a good experienced electrician should be able to check this out for you.

Bill

-- Ferme le Bush

Reply to
Salmon Egg

You need to be *very* careful in the panel, and the problem, if it is a loose/corroded neutral might not be there. It might be better to diagnose it more first. The fact that you don't see dimming/brightening argues against a bad neutral. But that is not conclusive. Someone mentioned monitoring with 2 meters at the same time so you can compare one phase against the other. That's a good idea. Beyond that you need special equipment and/or you need to get a professional in there.

If you do have a bad neutral, it could be at any connection from the pole to the service. The neutral connections typically go like this: at the pole, at the drip loop, at the meter pan and at the panel. The only place you can get to is the panel. And the only place you can get to safely is the telephone.

Ed

Reply to
ehsjr

The lamps may have been expensive, but were they really better? Expensive may be just because there was low manufacturing quantities. Do you know how much output (lumens) you got per watt?

There is no problem increasing the life of the lamps by designing the filament to work at a higher voltage--say 150 volts--if you are willing to take lower light output. You might add some extra filament support to avoid vibration problems.

Bill

-- Ferme le Bush

Reply to
Salmon Egg

this company is popular source for broadcasters and and other requiring long life under harsh conditions.

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beacon lamps are not cheap but they are a bargain compared to the cost for labor to change them.

Reply to
TimPerry

By googling for data, I came up that you get about 60% of the light for a

100W long-life incandescent lamp compared to 750 hour life of an Ace Hardware 100W lamp. While the extra cost may give a good engineering solution, designing the filament to operate a a lower conversion efficiency sure will sure will increase lifetime.

Bill

-- Ferme le Bush

Reply to
Salmon Egg

When I worked for our county government, they had a bin full of discarded traffic and signal lamps that you could paw through and take as much as you liked. These lamps were typically from traffic control fixtures, and were changed on a regular schedule.Even though they were at the end of their life as far as the county was concerned, they lasted many times longer than any lamp you could get at the supermarket. They were also ideal for a porch light since they were built to take shock and didn't shake the filament loose when the door got slammed. I have bought quite a few from Grainger's for my own use, and for use on jobs where I install in a rough service area. They cost about 4.00 each, or more, but they are the real deal when you need it.

Reply to
Long Ranger

It is not that difficult to go to almost any hardware store to get a lamp designed for rough service and long lifetime. The trouble is that they will produce reduced light.

I am not into photography any more, but photoflood lamps were readily available at a premium price. They were just lamps that were ordinarily designed for 90V or whatever. They would give off a lot of light but would last for about two hours before burning out. It did not take some photographers very long to figure out that they could use ordinary 120V lamps and a Variac or Powerstat to increase the voltage to where they also burned out in two hours.

Bill

-- Ferme le Bush

Reply to
Salmon Egg

I used to do just the opposite at a B&W TV station. I ran the 120 projector lamps at 93 to 95 volts to squeeze 300 + hours out of 20 hour rated lamps. If I reduced the voltage an more, the system noise starred to go up, and I would lose contrast on a lot of the 16 mm film. Also the video was degraded on color film if the lamp was too red.

Reply to
Michael A. Terrell

The traffic and signal lamps I referred to are way beyond the garden variety "rough service" lamps stocked in the average hardware store. As far as reduced light, it is no trouble when you buy based on lumens, rather than wattage.

Reply to
Long Ranger

But your operating cost is based upon watt-hours not lumen-hours. Thus, to get long lasting lamps, you need more power and mor bucks.

Bill

-- Ferme le Bush

Reply to
Salmon Egg

Reply to
Long Ranger

Energy costs are higher but replacement costs are lower; operating cost isn't necessarily higher. And reliability/no outages is probably an overriding factor. I believe traffic signal incandescents are being replaced by LEDs which have much longer life.

bud--

Reply to
Bud--

but in the winter in the snowbelt they dont get warm enough to melt the snow

Reply to
TimPerry

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