Lights blow all over house - Voltage problem?

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  #1  
Old 12-10-11, 11:15 AM
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Lights blow all over house - Voltage problem?

Ever since we moved into our house about 7 years ago, we have gone through lots and lots of light bulbs. The worst offender are the small recessed lights in our family room. This problem seems to happen all over the house on all different circuits, but not all the lights on every circuit have the problem. The worst light seem to be the newest ones that have been installed.

I have measured the voltage at a few outlets in the house and get readings around 125. Is this causing the problem? I have tried 130 volt bulbs, and while they last longer, they still blow in a significantly shorter time period than I would expect. Even flourescent bulbs that are supposed to last 10,000 hours burn out in 2 or 3 months.

Is this something I can call my power company about? Would some type of whole house voltage regulator be needed to solve the problem?

Any insight is greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 11:57 AM
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Recessed can lights can and do tend to go through bulbs, mainly because there is a great deal of heat being created and no where for it to go. It will shorten the life of the bulbs. Do you know if there is insulation over the can lights and if they are IC cans to begin with? 125 volts is not out of the range of normalcy, although most often somewhere in the range of 123 volts is closer. I don't think the voltage is the problem as much as the heat.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 11:59 AM
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You can call your electrical utility but don't be surprised if they are less than helpful as 125 volts IS within the nominal range of voltage supplied.

You might keep track of the actual hours a bulb is lit (I know that would be a pain) as "standard" incandescent bulbs generally have a rated life of about 700 hours. If the bulb is lit for an average of ten hours a day that's only a little over two months.

Something that works for me is to have dimmers on most of my incandescent bulbs that "ramp up and down" the lights so it removes that high voltage inrush when a regular switch is used.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 12:37 PM
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No insulation around the cans as they are on the 1st floor of a 2 story house. It is a lot of the lights around the house, too not just those. I also meant to mention that the bulbs always blow when I turn on the lights, not after they have been on for awhile. Should I check the voltage at one of the lights when they are first turned on? Could the "start-up" voltage be significantly higher than the "operating" voltage?

Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 12:46 PM
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It is doubtful you are experiencing a "surge", but you should be testing at the light rather than receptacle, anyway. You will need someone to help, I'm sure. Let us know what you find out with the test. I think Furd's idea of dimmers may work as well to reduce any inflow problems.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 03:51 PM
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Light Bulbs

I have a stair well light that blew lots of bulbs until I changed to compact fluorescent. The fixture has an enclosed globe which I am sure was trapping a lot of heat. Changing to compact fluorescents worked for me.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 05:14 PM
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Wirepuller is correct about using CFL's as they do not have filaments. Do you have rambunctious kids or have a lot of vibration in your home? Vibration will break the filaments of incandescent bulbs.

Do your bulbs blow all at once or are they one at a time?
 
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Old 12-10-11, 06:13 PM
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The OP did say that flourescent bulbs burn out quickly as well.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 09:13 PM
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I do have some rambunctious kids, but this was a problem before they were ever around. I have tried the CFL's and the last much longer than the incandescent bulbs but they burn out in a couple of months rather than a couple of weeks.

The bulbs usually pop one at a time, but at seems like once one ina particular fixture goes, they all start to go. My microwave is like that. If both bulbs are working, everything is great. The left bulb usually pops first and within a week the other one will blow.
 
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Old 12-10-11, 09:25 PM
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Part of me thinks you may have a loose neutral on a multiwire circuit. This would cause the voltage to jump up and down depending on the load. Do the bulbs pop mostly when you have them on or do they get brighter at times? Or do they just fail when you first turn them on?
 
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Old 12-10-11, 10:29 PM
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They pretty much just pop right when you turn them on. haven't noticed them getting brighter at any point and can't remember any of them burning out when they've been on for a while.

When you say a loose neutral, are you thinking a loose neutral at the panel or a loose neutral at connection somewhere in the circuit (or both)?
 
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Old 12-11-11, 06:12 AM
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The loose connection could be anywhere in the circuit. If this is happening all over the house I would look for a problem at the panel or with the power company.

The power company may be able to install a recording meter to see if the voltage fluctuations are on their equipment.
 
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Old 12-11-11, 07:44 AM
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I think TI and pcboss are on to something, but I would also suggest whole house surge suppression be installed. You need it anyway to protect your electronics and probably don't have it; most people don't.
 
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