Low wattage bulbs in a high-wattage fixture?

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  #1  
Old 11-23-15, 02:23 PM
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Low wattage bulbs in a high-wattage fixture?

A month or so ago, I bought this fixture and installed it in my bathroom:

Hampton Bay 6-Light Chrome Flushmount Raceway Bath Bar Light-EW556CH - The Home Depot

Basically a 6-light fixture that says it has a 100-watt limit. That's per bulb, presumably.

And I bought these lightbulbs:

GE 25-Watt Incandescent G25 Globe Double Life Clear Light Bulb (3-Pack)-25G25C/2L-TP3/6 - The Home Depot

25-watt incandescent. With six bulbs in the fixture, this is plenty bright. I wouldn't want the room to be much brighter.

About a week or two after installing it and using it an average amount, a bulb burned out. Then a week later another one went out. I went to Home Depot to get new bulbs, and there was a 3rd party guy there hanging out in the bulb section talking to people about energy-efficient light bulbs and rebates and stuff, but also answering questions, and he said that if my fixture is high-wattage and the bulbs are low-wattage, the fixture will be pumping too much electricity through the bulbs and they'll burn out much faster.

So,...

- Is this true?
- If it's true, how should I deal with this?
- Get higher wattage bulbs and install a dimmer switch?
- Switch to a different technology for the bulbs? Are LEDs more resistant to burning out like this?


TL;DR: I have a fixture that has a 100-watt limit and six bulbs, but I only want roughly 25-watts of light in the room, but the bulbs keep burning out. What the heck is going on and what should I do?

Thanks everyone!
Patrick
 
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  #2  
Old 11-23-15, 02:42 PM
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Bulbs

he said that if my fixture is high-wattage and the bulbs are low-wattage, the fixture will be pumping too much electricity through the bulbs and they'll burn out much faster.
You either have low-quality bulbs or too high voltage. Check the voltage in each of the sockets.
 
  #3  
Old 11-23-15, 03:09 PM
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if my fixture is high-wattage and the bulbs are low-wattage, the fixture will be pumping too much electricity through the bulbs and they'll burn out much faster.
The guy is an idiot. Apparently he just makes up answers on things he doesn't understand. If your voltage is too high that may be a problem as Wirepuller wrote but that would be the same if it was a 100 watt bulb. The real reason is probably made in China with inadequate quality control.
 
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Old 11-23-15, 03:48 PM
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hahahahahahaha I can't believe Home Depot let that guy in the doors! I'd lean toward trying a different brand than GE and if possible buy 130 volt rated bulbs. In my book GE is the cheapest crap on the market. I prefer Philips.
 
  #5  
Old 11-23-15, 04:40 PM
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I have that same fixture in one of my bathrooms. I use these bulbs in it. Just a matter of taste but I prefer the look of the smaller bulb.
 
  #6  
Old 11-24-15, 06:29 AM
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Ray and Joe, . This what gives vest and apron stores such a bad rep! As you may remember I work at a small local vest and apron chain here in Western New York. We pride ourselves in giving good and accurate info about common everyday home repair. And most of our clientele trust us over big blue across the street. Not a week goes by that I don't educate a consumer about light bulbs. I try my best to remove that wattage reference to brightness as much as possible and get people to realize lumens is what is important. Yes that clerk is an idiot.
 
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Old 11-24-15, 08:10 AM
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This what gives vest and apron stores such a bad rep!
I have a friend who works part-time at a box store and he tells me the same thing. It seems the real problem is a shortage of qualified people to work in departments like electrical and plumbing. My friend tells me the most knowledgeable people in the store are the retirees working part-time. I wish I could relate just a few of the crazy stories I have heard about totally ignorant emplyees.
 
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Old 11-24-15, 08:25 AM
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Joe, we're very fortunate in that we have a good mix of young kids and old retirees (like me) that help each other and are not afraid to ask for advice or help.

But speaking of crazy stories its that time of year when the inevitable will happen. I'm waiting for the person (usually a woman but not always) to ask me for an extension cord with a male end on both sides. Then they will argue with me when I tell them there is no such thing. It's usually because they strung their outside Xmass lights in the wrong direction. Then this one lady actually tells me her father in fact bought one from our store several years ago. I tell her that's impossible and she gets mad at me for refusing to help her.
 
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Old 11-24-15, 08:53 AM
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Then this one lady actually tells me her father in fact bought one from our store several years ago. I tell her that's impossible and she gets mad at me for refusing to help her.
Be careful, be very careful and whatever you do, don't tell her she must be confused! hahahahaha I heard a crazy story about a very similar situation.
 
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Old 11-24-15, 10:20 AM
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Thanks for all the responses, people. If I test the voltage and find that it's high (higher than 120V, presumably?) what does that mean? Call an electrician?
 
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Old 11-24-15, 11:18 AM
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If I test the voltage and find that it's high (higher than 120V, presumably?) what does that mean? Call an electrician?
Electrician probably can't help. It would be good to get one to test the tightness of all the connections in your breaker box but it would most likely be on the power company side and they would probably just say it is within tolerance if it is high. Voltage should be 120v 10% so anything from 108 to 132 is okay.
 
  #12  
Old 11-24-15, 12:26 PM
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Pat,
First, you need to carefully read the wattage allowances for your fixture. Typically, they do not list the allowable wattage per lamp (bulb), but list the maximum wattage for the fixture. If you have six lamps (bulbs) and 100 watt maximum, maximum wattage per lamp would be 16.67watts. You should be able to purchase 15 watt bulbs. Basic mathematics leads me to this conclusion, and the fact that a typical interior light fixture for residential applications does not allow for 600 watts of power consumption. This would limit you to approximately three fixtures per circuit breaker.

Second, I have run into a similar problem a few years back where a customer called concerned that the lamps (bulbs) in his ceiling fixtures were only lasting about 600 hours. We discovered two things:
1 - The power at his panelboard would vary between 128 and 135 volts per phase. This is great for your blow dryer or coffeemaker, but terrible on 120V lamp filaments. We recommended 130V "rough service" lamps.
2 - The electrician that originally wired the house had "switched" the neutrals instead of the hot conductors. Yes, we learned this the hard way. Apparently this had some affect. We re-wired the circuits and it seemed to resolve his issue. They did not install 130V lamps in ALL locations; however they started seeing normal lamp life expectancies met.
 
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Old 11-24-15, 05:35 PM
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@ Ken - In my experience that is not the case, fixtures are marked max wattage per lamp holder. Very rarely are fixtures marked for the total max wattage, and the ones that are are specialized fixtures.
 
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Old 11-25-15, 05:00 AM
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It makes no difference voltage wise (or amperage wise or watts wise or lamp life wise) if you switch the neutral going only to a standard light fixture.

Safety wise it does make a difference. With the switch "off" the internal metal parts of the fixture are still live relative to ground which means still live relative to other grounded objects such as radiators or (in most cases) a metal outlet box in the wall to which the fixture is attached.

But speaking of crazy stories its that time of year when the inevitable will happen. I'm waiting for the person (usually a woman but not always) to ask me for an extension cord with a male end on both sides. Then they will argue with me when I tell them there is no such thing. It's usually because they strung their outside Xmass lights in the wrong direction. Then this one lady actually tells me her father in fact bought one from our store several years ago. I tell her that's impossible and she gets mad at me for refusing to help her.
Did someone ever actually ask you for a cord with (male) plugs at each end?

Now someone could go to Home Depot and buy parts to make such a cord, but you should kibitz him on how.
he said that if my fixture is high-wattage and the bulbs are low-wattage, the fixture will be pumping too much electricity through the bulbs and they'll burn out much faster.
Totally 100% absolutely false everywhere in the world and universe.

Now, putting too high wattage lamps in a fixture can cause the voltage at the lamp socket(s) to drop if the fixture wiring or other circuit wiring is too thin. Then the lamps will draw a different amount of wattage that is difficult to predict or compute without lots of electrical engineering knowledge. You should not try since an overheated fixture is a fire hazard.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 11-25-15 at 05:23 AM.
  #15  
Old 11-25-15, 05:53 AM
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Wattage

Basically a 6-light fixture that says it has a 100-watt limit. That's per bulb, presumably.
The specifications for the fixture do in fact state "Maximum Bulb Wattage 100 W".
 
  #16  
Old 11-25-15, 03:00 PM
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Did someone ever actually ask you for a cord with (male) plugs at each end?
Happens every year. Very common.

In fact just today I was asked for a double male ended adapter.

One of these


but with male ends both sides.

I asked her if she understood why she can't buy it?. She said no. Because it was to be plugged into another cord. She could not see the danger.
 
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Old 11-25-15, 04:22 PM
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The bulb will only use what it is designed for. Nothing can push more current into the bulb. The guy in the store was shoveling with a pitchfork.
 
  #18  
Old 11-26-15, 05:25 AM
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IMPORTANT TYPO FIX

... to ask me for an extension cord with a male end on both sides. Then they will argue with me when I tell them there is no such thing. It's usually because they strung their outside Xmass lights in the wrong direction. Then this one lady actually tells me her father in fact bought one from our store several years ago. I tell her that's impossible and she gets mad at me for refusing to help her.
Did someone ever actually ask you for a cord with (male) plugs at each end?

Now someone could go to Home Depot and buy parts to make such a cord, but you should NOT kibitz him on how.
he said that if my fixture is high-wattage and the bulbs are ...
 
  #19  
Old 11-26-15, 07:17 AM
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The specifications for the fixture do in fact state "Maximum Bulb Wattage 100 W".
I have seen a few bath bars marked this way, but the typical chandelier or multi lamp ceiling fan fixture usually has a label at each each socket with a maximum wattage per socket.
 
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Old 11-26-15, 07:21 AM
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I asked her if she understood why she can't buy it?. She said no. Because it was to be plugged into another cord. She could not see the danger.
It's hard to protect some people from themselves. This just reminds me of how difficult it is to deal with the general public.
 
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