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Old 03-30-2008, 10:37 PM   #1
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lighting problem in kitchen

Hi All,

My home was built in Aug, 2002. The lighting in our kitchen is four recessed cans. I have been running 23 watt spiral Florescent lights in each of the four cans. In one of the four cans, the flouresent bulb only lasts two or three months before burning out (it's the same can every time) The other three bulbs have never been replaced in the 5.5 years we have lived in this house. (We bought the house new).

I wondered if I was just putting bad florescent bulbs in the one can so I put a 60 watt incandescent bulb in the one can. The incandescent bulb only lasted about two weeks.

I have checked the voltage going to the can and it reads a normal voltage, 117 volts or so AC.

Does any one have any idea as to why the one can continues to prematurly burn out bulbs while the other three cans are working properly? All four cans are operated by one light switch (no 3 way switch)

I have considered highering an electrician but wondered if I might higher someone that really didn't have a clue what he was looking for.

Thanks for any help.


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Old 03-31-2008, 03:20 PM   #2
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I always get questions about bulbs buring out and I never have a definitive answer. A loose connection would likely cause some flicker. A loose bulb would likely cause some burn marks.

Maybe the fixtures in question have a bunch of insulation on them and are trapping heat?

You can pull them apart and take a look. Remove the trim (springs?), remove 3 screws and slide the fixture up or down. Prepare for falling insulation if blown in.


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Old 03-31-2008, 08:39 PM   #3
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If the light is under a stair landing or next to a slamming door. Check the following article.

Can CFLs Be Used in Ceiling Fans?
A ceiling fan application can exhibit several possible CFL failure modes: vibration, low voltage, overheating, frequent switching on/off and the possibility of being wired to a dimmable switch.

At first blush, one would think that CFLs would handle vibration just fine due to the absence of a filament. However, GE Consumer & Industrial Lighting's FAQs web page listed this response to the same question:
5. Can I use a CFL in applications involving vibration such as a ceiling fan or garage door opener?
Currently it is not recommended to use CFLs in vibrating environments. Vibration can cause the electronics in the CFL to fail.
On the other hand, GE recommends its FLE11 globe CFL for use in a ceiling fan. In addition, we find no such warnings from other lamp manufacturers such as Philips or Osram Sylvania. Furthermore, many new electronic ballasts now come with built-in filtering and protection circuits that are improvements over the less expensive designs.

If the can is overheating check the next article.

Do CFLs Quickly Burn Out in Recessed Lights?
Some fluorescent ballasts are unreliable in ambient temperatures much over 120°F (50°C). This is sometimes a problem in enclosed or recessed ceiling fixtures if heat in the fixture builds up. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Lighting Research Center publishes a newsletter, Lighting Answers. An article on high-wattage compact fluorescent lamps (HW-CFLs) showed the temperature increased from an average of about 25°C (77°F) to 40°–60°C (100°–140°F) in enclosed aluminum reflectors and prismatic refractors. The temperature rise in open reflectors/refractors was much smaller. These high-wattage CFLs were rated at 55–105 watts.

In 2002, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) completed technical and market research on reflector CFLs (R-CFLs) in the 12–20 watt range and identified a number of challenges to increased use of R-CFLs installed in insulated, ceiling-rated, airtight (ICAT) recessed can housings:
  • Delivered light output. Total light output for R-CFLs was often significantly less than their incandescent counterparts, and R-CFLs installed in high ambient temperature environments generally produced lower light levels, compared to CFLs installed in "open" fixtures at room temperature.
  • Longevity. Operating life was often much shorter than the manufacturer rated life when installed in insulated ceiling environments. Operating temperature was often above manufacturer guidelines when operated in an ICAT can.
Note that the PNNL R-CFLs were not totally enclosed. The housings were open on one end but not vented, thus the categorization as "airtight" to prevent loss of conditioned air into unconditioned spaces above, such as attics.
Sylvania CFL Reflector In a follow-up report, Philips Lighting Company R-CFLs Prove They Can Take the Heat, the Philips SLS/R40 20 watt and the EL/A BR30 16 watt Reflector Flood, which are part of the Philips® Marathon™ line, met the DOE's stringent performance criteria for its R-CFL project, including ENERGY STAR® certification and a minimum of 6,000 hours of elevated temperature life testing. Manufacturers now have specially designed recessed housings for fluorescent lighting.

Sometimes it's just trial and error. Keep plugging away.
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