Very Short Light Bulb Life

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  #1  
Old 09-09-06, 08:31 PM
ksauke
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Very Short Light Bulb Life

I have a problem with light bulbs "popping" a lot in my house. It appears to be a problem throughout the house and not on any particular circuit. A new light bulb typically will last about a month before having to be replaced. I've gone to putting in the compact florecent (sp?) as they will last a lot longer (almost 6 months) than a regular bulb but not nearly as long as their stated life is. In two hallway lights I had a stretch of about a week where I had to replace one or the other of the bulbs every day and they always died with an audible "pop". I'm assuming this is because of power fluctuations but what is the best way to track this down? Could this be a problem with my service from the electric company or is it more likely a problem with faulty wiring in the house?
 
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  #2  
Old 09-09-06, 08:43 PM
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Are there other places in the house where the lights DO last a long time?

You may have a bad neutral connection. I would call the Power Company, but others with more experience may have some more specific answers.
 
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Old 09-09-06, 08:44 PM
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It is most likely a high voltage situation. Have you checked the actual voltage with a meter? If not, or if you don't feel comfortable doing it, call your local power company and have them test it to make sure it is within limits.
Now, it may still be within their limits, but too high for cheaper bulbs. You may have to resort to 130 volt bulbs to ensure a longer life.
 
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Old 09-09-06, 08:45 PM
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Two cents from me...

I would be more likely to suspect not faulty wiring but rather faulty junctions and switch wiring...Here's why.

Most lightbulbs now are made to handle surge spikes up to and including sustained spikes at 130 volts. Thus canceling out the POCO. However, a faulty neutral junction or a faulty wired three way switch where the wires are arcing out this will cause the bulbs to blow faster than any other thing i know.

The Flourescent bulbs should last longer and save you money. The life time of flourescent bulbs is due to the fact that they have no fragile filament to burn out if it gets rattled or spiked (that brins up anoher question...any earth shaking going on near you (i.e. railroad, shock and awe, California?...just kidding)

Are these bulbs blowing when you turn the light on or after a while of being on?
 
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Old 09-10-06, 04:31 AM
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high voltage monitoring

This reminds me of a past problem. The power company temporarily tied in a graphic recorder that showed any line fluctuations vs time. In one situation, there were line voltages exceeding 122V for short periods, but long enough to do damage.
 
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Old 09-10-06, 05:20 AM
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If it is not a wiring problem, how about a light switch with a pilot light and no neutral? I put in a fluorescent fixture with one of those switches and have the same problem. I replaced the switch and am waiting to see if the bulbs last.
 
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Old 09-10-06, 06:00 AM
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Since the OP stated it happened to all bulbs on different circuits that would seem to rule out things not common to all circuits such as loose connections at switches or even individual breakers.

I'd suggest having the PoCo check their connections including the meter can (if in that area they check the meter can).
 
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Old 09-10-06, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by volts
This reminds me of a past problem. The power company temporarily tied in a graphic recorder that showed any line fluctuations vs time. In one situation, there were line voltages exceeding 122V for short periods, but long enough to do damage.
sorry volts but 122 volts is well within any standards and requirements of tolerance. It would do no damage as well.

a 5% tolerance would run you from 114 to 126 volts. Some utilities do not have regultation even that good and generally cause few short term problems
.
ANSI C84.1 "Electric Power Systems and Equipment - Voltage Ratings (60 Hz)"sets the preferred nominal voltage at 120/240V and lists limits as:

Maximum Utilization and Service Voltage 126/252
Minimum Service Voltage 114/228
Minimum Utilization Voltage 110/220





I, as well, tend to lean the same direction as ray. If this is not limited to 1 or 2 circuits. 2 circuits involved may indicate a multiwire circuit with a bad neutral connection (this was covered in another thread very well that explained why very well (http://forum.doityourself.com/showthread.php?t=277159). I would lean towards a more common problem and that means : main service panel back to the POCO. That is with the thought that there are no unusual environmental situations.
 

Last edited by nap; 09-10-06 at 06:39 AM.
  #9  
Old 09-10-06, 06:29 AM
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I've seen this before and it was usually caused by a loose or corroded (service) neutral connection on the main breaker panel or the Power Company meter, service cable or transformer. I've also seen the POCO's transformer go bad (lightning strike) and cause increased voltage on a home... up to 300 volts+!
The incoming voltage should be 110-125 volts on each leg to ground and 220-250 volts between the hot legs (normal range that I see). If it's out of this range, the POCO most likelly has a problem with their transformer. If not, most likely it's a problem with your service neutral connection(s) from (inside) your main panel back to the POCO transformer.
This problem causes a un-safe condition and can damage any or all of your appliances.
Call your Power company and they will check their equipment (for free).
hope this helps
steve
 
  #10  
Old 09-12-06, 04:24 AM
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fluctuations

NAP: To be more explicit, I have seen power surges, brief and not so brief, which were recorded that were in excess of 126V.
 
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Old 09-12-06, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by volts
NAP: To be more explicit, I have seen power surges, brief and not so brief, which were recorded that were in excess of 126V.
I see. I thought you spoke of constant voltage. 122 is well within allowable standards (see ANSI standards above).
Yes, I have also have seen similar.

That's the problem with spikes and surges, they are intermittant so unless you have a recorder, they often do get missed.

I think we lost the OP though.

If he does come back, he might consider calling the POCO. I cannot be sure if his POCO will but some of them will hook up a recorder for intermittant problems such as this.
 
  #12  
Old 09-15-06, 04:53 AM
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line level

A line voltage of 122V is realistic and quite normal. Back starting in the late 40s the famous "All American Five" radios were marketed. They were designed for 122.8 volts, which matched the heater voltage of their tubes.
 
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