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Any Lighting/electrical Experts In Here?  
User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2191 times:

I used to have eight 40w reflector bulbs (which were recommended) in two light fittings in my kitchen, and these used to blow occasionally. I'd go through about 8-12 a year.

I replaced the fittings three months ago with two strips of four 50w halogen bulbs (they came with the fittings), but the problem has persisted, but probably not as bad as before. They used to go when the lights were turned on, but today one popped for no particular reason.

It's an old house, but the place was rewired 30 years ago. I don't know if it's a wriring problem, a problem with the switch, or something else.

Any of you electrical geniuses out there know what's going on here?

52 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineRichphitzwell From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2184 times:

May be a few things...but I would check polarity.

User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2181 times:

Quoting Richphitzwell (Reply 1):
May be a few things...but I would check polarity.

Hmmmm. . . . I'll reverse it on both fittings, but there were no instructions with them giving any indication of correct wiring. Thanks for your suggestion Richphitzwell.


User currently offlineAndesSMF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2176 times:

Quoting Braybuddy (Thread starter):
Any of you electrical geniuses out there know what's going on here?

Ask away!

My first question is: How many circuit breakers/fuses does your electrical panel have? What is the size of the electrical panel (amps)? What is the size of your house?


User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2171 times:

Nine circut breakers one of which covers everything. I don't know how to find out the size of the electrical panel, but the main circuit breaker has "63A" on it, if that's any help. There are seven rooms in the house.

User currently offlineAndesSMF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2166 times:

Next question.

What type of electrical loads do you have on your house?

Washer? Dryer? Heating? A/C? Cooking?


User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2162 times:

Washer, dryer, dishwasher, shower, no A/C or cooking. Other general domestic stuff.

User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2161 times:

I've been an electrician since 1977. It's not the wiring; you'd notice other more serious problems. It's probably not the switch; you'd hear snapping and arcing in the switch if the contacts were bad. If there was a mechanical problem with the switch, you'd "feel" it...looseness, friction, etc.

I think you have a heat problem. Excessive heat build-up is one of the primary reasons for premature lamp failure. Sealed flood and spot lamps with built-in reflectors (below left) have short life expectancies for that reason. Likewise with open-reflector projector lamps (below center). Standard light bulbs installed in recessed "can lights" (below right) burn out prematurely due to heat build-up in the confined space.



I installed can lights with sealed spot lamps in our new EMS station. All the lamps burned out within 10 hours. I replaced them with standard round light bulbs. Same thing. The only lamps that have held up are fluorescent lamps that are designed to replace incandescent lamps (below). They've been on for hundreds of hours without any failures.



Feel free to ask me any questions.

Mark


User currently offlineAndesSMF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2157 times:

Heat is a good possibility for the failure. Looking at the loads provided and the number of circuits you might also be overloaded on the circuit.

Here in the US it has been mandatory to install fluorescent lights in kitchens for decades. I would recommend that you change them to fluorescent.


User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 2153 times:

Thanks for your help Mark. The kitchen doesn't get excessively hot, but now that you mention it, the bulb that popped today was some time after I'd left a pressure cooker on for longer than it should have been. It didn't happen at the time the kitchen was full of steam, but maybe an hour or more later.

Is it normal for reflector/halogen bulbs to have a life of only a couple of months in some cases?


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2150 times:

Quoting AndesSMF (Reply 8):
Looking at the loads provided and the number of circuits you might also be overloaded on the circuit.

Not likely. Lamps don't burn out as the result of an overloaded circuit. You'd find blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers if that were the case. Voltage surges can burn out lamps, but they would affect the entire house. You'd see lamps burned out on all circuits and possibly some fried electronic devices.

Mark


User currently offlineAndesSMF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2140 times:

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 9):

Is it normal for reflector/halogen bulbs to have a life of only a couple of months in some cases?

Sometimes normal and expected. Do you also have your lights in a ceiling recess, where the heat might build up more?


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2137 times:

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 9):
The kitchen doesn't get excessively hot

I meant the excessive heat would be within a confined area, like a recessed light fixture. For example, a 50-watt bulb mounted in a soup can might last an hour before burning out. The same bulb mounted in a basement ceiling without a cover could last for years. Circulating air keeps it cooler.



Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 9):
Is it normal for reflector/halogen bulbs to have a life of only a couple of months in some cases?

Yes. It's often less than that. For example, some aircraft landing light sealed beam lamps are rated for only 10 hours.

Mark


User currently offlineSean377 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1225 posts, RR: 40
Reply 13, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2135 times:

Are you using cheap unbranded lamps (bulbs)? This is the number one reason for crap lamp life.

The wiring in your house, circuit loads, etc. have very little (i.e. nothing) to do with lamps blowing.

Incandescent lamps (like your reflectors and halogens) have a much poorer life than the likes of fluorescent lamps. But whereas fluorescent lamps do have major benefits over incandescent lamps, they are not quite suited to domestic home use.

My advice would be to stop buying unbranded lamps (if you are) at 20p each and buy branded ones (GE, Philips) at 40p a piece. You will notice a difference.



Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man... Landing is the first!
User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2130 times:

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 2):
Hmmmm. . . . I'll reverse it on both fittings

Careful. You don't want to interchange the Load, Neutral, and Earth wires. Although the lamp might work fine, you could create a shock hazard, especially in a kitchen. You could get zapped with 220 volts.

Load must be the brown wire. May be red (old colour code)
Neutral must be the blue wire. May be black (old colour code)
Earth must yellow/green wire. May be green (old colour code)

Mark

[Edited 2006-09-15 21:38:52]

User currently offlineSean377 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1225 posts, RR: 40
Reply 15, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 2125 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 14):
Careful.

I agree. Don't alter the wiring. It is not the problem.



Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man... Landing is the first!
User currently offlineWSOY From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 2104 times:

How can you prevent over heating?
Never operate the halogen lamp above the rated operating temperature. The seal temperature should always be maintained below 350°C and the bulb temperature should be kept between 250°C and 550°C. Make sure the cooling system is functioning properly. Do not allow one lamp to directly expose another. If a reflector is being used make certain the IR is not reflected back onto the filament or its support. Finally, make certain particles do not fall on the lamp.

( http://www.ushio.com/support_FAQ.htm#14 )


User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Reply 17, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 2088 times:

Sorry for taking so long to reply to you guys: my ISP cut me off for several hours for some reason.

Quoting AndesSMF (Reply 8):
Looking at the loads provided and the number of circuits you might also be overloaded on the circuit.

I checked, and there's only lighting on that circuit. Sockets are separate.

Quoting AndesSMF (Reply 8):
I would recommend that you change them to fluorescent.

Not a fan of flourescent lighting, Andes, so I'd prefer not to go down that road, even if it means replacing bulbs regularly.

Quoting AndesSMF (Reply 11):
Do you also have your lights in a ceiling recess, where the heat might build up more?

No, see below:



Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 12):
I meant the excessive heat would be within a confined area, like a recessed light fixture

See above, Mark.

Quoting Sean377 (Reply 13):
Are you using cheap unbranded lamps (bulbs)?

Nope, the ones used are the ones supplied with the units.

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 14):
Load must be the brown wire. May be red (old colour code)
Neutral must be the blue wire. May be black (old colour code)
Earth must yellow/green wire. May be green (old colour code)

For light fittings here there are only two wires and they aren't colour coded.

Quoting WSOY (Reply 16):
The seal temperature should always be maintained below 350°C and the bulb temperature should be kept between 250°C and 550°C.

How do you measure sealed temperature?

Thanks for all your help guys, though it's still a bit of a mystery.


User currently offlineAndesSMF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 2077 times:

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 17):
For light fittings here there are only two wires and they aren't colour coded.

So now we determined that the wires are old. If you had a new light, it should have come with a green ground wire. You need to connect this to the closest metal part that is not the light.


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2075 times:

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 17):
How do you measure sealed temperature?

I believe this refers to bare-bulb conditions. It wouldn't apply to the lamps you're using.

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 17):
For light fittings here there are only two wires and they aren't colour coded

Then you don't have to worry about polarity. Polarity wouldn't have any effect in this situation.

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 17):
How do you measure sealed temperature?

This is important information for the manufacturer of the lighting assemblies. As long as you don't exceed the manufacturer's maximum wattage rating, you need not worry.

Something else that might work is to replace the off/on switch with a variable-control dimmer switch. Running those type of bulbs at 90% really increases lamp life.

Mark


User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Reply 20, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2069 times:

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 19):
Something else that might work is to replace the off/on switch with a variable-control dimmer switch. Running those type of bulbs at 90% really increases lamp life.

Hmmm. . . . worth a try! The older reflector bulbs used to only blow when the switch was turned on. Only two of the halogen bulbs have blown so far in the last couple of months. I can't remember how the first one went, but today the second one popped for no apparent reason after it had been on for a while.

Thanks Mark!


User currently offlineRichPhitzwell From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 2052 times:

polarity is always there, the color of the wire does not matter....could be a dashed wire or the electrician ran two of the same color wires. as stated, there are many reasons that could cause the problem, but a quick easy way to eliminate your side of the issue is to verify polarity. The other part is of your side of the issue is assuring the all devices are of the proper voltage for the application. IE, 110, 220, 440...in the USA for residential, it is primarily 110, but other countries the standard is 220.

But I'm ignorant of the issue as I only deal with large commercial applications.


User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29805 posts, RR: 58
Reply 22, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 2049 times:

Can I assume that we are talking about a 220V system.

I don't know enough about european wiring to comment.



OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
User currently offlineSean377 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1225 posts, RR: 40
Reply 23, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2045 times:



That looks like an extra low voltage fitting to me (12v). I assume the two wires that are the same colour are the ones that run from the transformer to the lamps, in which case, polarity does not matter.

The figures below show why your halogens are lasting longer than your reflectors (about twice as long?), but 2000hrs is still naff compared to fluorecent lamps.

Some average lamp lifes (that does not mean they will all last this long):

40w Reflector = 1000hrs

12v 50w Halogen = 2000hrs

20w decorative fluorescent = 6000hrs

4ft 36w standard fluorescent = 9000hrs

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 17):
Quoting Sean377 (Reply 13):
Are you using cheap unbranded lamps (bulbs)?

Nope, the ones used are the ones supplied with the units.

That means they are definately cheap lamps. The above figures are for GE branded lamps. The ones mage in China that you get from the corner shop, or even some DIY stores, will not have anywhere near these figures.

Also, if the lamps don't have a protective glass cover, make sure you don't touch the glass of the lamp itself. This will cut lamp life too.

[Edited 2006-09-16 10:13:06]


Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man... Landing is the first!
User currently offlineBraybuddy From Ireland, joined Aug 2004, 5773 posts, RR: 32
Reply 24, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 2040 times:

Quoting RichPhitzwell (Reply 21):
The other part is of your side of the issue is assuring the all devices are of the proper voltage for the application. IE, 110, 220, 440



Quoting L-188 (Reply 22):
Can I assume that we are talking about a 220V system.

Yes, voltage is 220 volts in Ireland, and as the fittings were bought here they would have to be compatible. The previous reflector ones were also bought here and also suffered the same problem.



While the house is nearly 200 years old, it was rewired completely in 1974 and certified by the national electricty supply company. I haven't had any electrical problems in the rest of the house, only with the lighting in the kitchen above. Lighting and sockets are on separate trip switches.

There is no air conditioning, but as you can see, the kitchen is big enough to not overheat unless the cooker is being used heavily. As I pointed out to Mark above, one of the bulbs popped yesterday after I'd left the pressure cooker on for longer than it should be, although it didn't blow at the time (maybe an hour later?). I'm not sure what caused the previous one to blow. The old reflector ones used to always pop when the switch was turned on.


25 Sean377 : Out of interest, what type of lights do you have in other parts of the house, i.e. type and number of bulbs at each fitting?
26 Braybuddy : The rest are all single light fittings, apart from the main bedroom, where there four separate (but electrically connected) reflector fittings.
27 Sean377 : I'm certain there is not a problem with your house electrics. You had eight reflector lamps in your kitchen and now you have eight halogens. That's e
28 Braybuddy : Thanks for your help Sean. You are right when you say that on account of the number of bulbs in the kitchen they are more likely to blow first, altho
29 Iakobos : Ever checked the actual voltage ? In EU we are supposed to get 234V (not 220) from the power grid. Ever asked your supplier to run a check (for surges
30 Post contains links Sean377 : You asked for it... Why do light-bulb filaments usually blow when first switched on, and not at the end of a long evening's use when they are at thei
31 Braybuddy : . . . thanks! So it IS better to leave them switched on.
32 Sean377 : Well, if only for the lamps sake! I'm not sure if the increased running costs would work out cheaper than the cost of a new bulb tho'!
33 Cptkrell : Are you installing the halogen bulbs with your bare fingers? Never touch a halogen bulb...your natural body oils will accellerate failure. If you acci
34 Braybuddy : No to both. If there are surges, as AsstChiefMark mentioned above, they would affect the rest of the house. AsstCheifMark has already mentioned this,
35 MD11Engineer : Carefull! The new colour code (for single phase AC only, thrre phase AC has black load wires as well to distinguish between the phases) is internatio
36 Braybuddy : Like I said earlier, MD11Engineer, the new halogen fittings are only in place three months so I'd like to give them a try. I'll change the light swit
37 Sean377 : A few things to bare in mind: 1. If the fitting is extra low voltage (i.e. if the lamps are rated 12v), you will need to check that the transformer i
38 Braybuddy : Thanks for the help Sean, much appreciated.
39 TRVYYZ : IMO, the polarity in ac shouldn't matter for the blowing out of the lamp, polarity is in ac (most of the cases) is a safety issue not get shock from t
40 L-188 : Excellent point, I have had a 500 watter on a halagon work light go quickly once and I am pretty sure that was part of the reason. I was wondering th
41 WSOY : Because of the current surge through the filament when it's still cold. And, by definition, there's no polarity in AC voltage, but several convention
42 WSOY : Are you sure? The old standard we had was Live=black, Neutral=gray, 0=red. The common standard for 1-phase connection has long been Live=Brown Neutra
43 Sean377 : Quite true. Here in the UK, the live and neutral have become phase and neutral, as both conductors are considered live. Bloody harmonization. You cou
44 MD11Engineer : Thanks for the correction. Of course it should be black = load, grey = neutral, red = ground, I just stated it in contrast to Mark's old American sta
45 AndesSMF : They actually tell you on the packaging not to touch the bulbs with bare hands. I think there might be an issue with the lack of ground for the trans
46 L-188 : I had it with tissue in one hand when I dropped it but caught it with the other bare hand.
47 MD11Engineer : No problem. Just wipe the fingerprints off with alcohol, acetone or a similar solvent after installation before switching it on. The reason is that h
48 Braybuddy : No Andes, sorry. Packaging is long gone. Although I don't know much about electrics, I doubt it's a problem with the units as, like I said earlier, I
49 Post contains links and images WSOY : Jan, I must say I got interested in this, the physics seemed interesting, after all, at least my fingerprints don't burn holes into thin paper or the
50 AndesSMF : OK, so after talking to a couple of electricians, and their comments and your situations seems to be caused by a bad switch, perhaps just a small enou
51 Braybuddy : Thanks for going to all that trouble Andes. I'll replace the switch as soon as possible.
52 Post contains links and images WSOY : "Use of Halogen Bulbs with Dimmers Dimming a halogen bulb, like dimming any other incandescent lamp, greatly slows down the formation of thin spots in
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