What's up with this light?
April 18, 2014 3:04 PM   Subscribe

OK, so we have this ceiling fan with a light fixture above the kitchen table. One of the three lights burns out regularly, like every 10 days or so. Both of the other lights have been fine for a year or more. Any idea why this should be the case? FWIW, the voltage at the sockets is identical to within .1 volt.
posted by pjern to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sanity check question, but you're using ceiling fan(random example) type bulbs right? If you run the fan often, that may just be the fixture that resonates the most when the motor is running. I've noticed ceiling fans don't vibrate like normal fans, but tend to just vibrate sympathetically with the 60hz hum... and can do it quite strongly, especially at lower speeds.

That said, the comment my universal-handyman/contractor dad always had about certain fixtures peculiarly and prematurely killing bulbs was that it was always an ac hot/ground swap or a weak ground. The bulbs are really designed to have the earth on one side and the hot on the other(the ground is always the large contact, iirc). I forget, electrically and mechanically with the filament and such, how the weak ground kills the bulbs... but it does.

If you want to be lazy, sometimes just swapping in a twisty bulb works. I've had that not work on particularly ornery sockets though.
posted by emptythought at 3:21 PM on April 18, 2014

The one socket doesn't conduct heat away from the bulb as well as the other two. If it's possible to replace that socket with a new one the problem should go away.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:21 PM on April 18, 2014

you're using ceiling fan(random example) type bulbs right?

Yep, GE type whatever-the-number-is. I don't think vibration is an issue, since we rarely use the fan itself.
posted by pjern at 3:33 PM on April 18, 2014

Can you use LED instead?
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:33 PM on April 18, 2014

Can you use LED instead?

I'd have to find 60w-equivalent candelabra base bulbs. Not sure they're out there.
posted by pjern at 3:35 PM on April 18, 2014

Ikea sells the LEDs you need.
posted by bensherman at 3:50 PM on April 18, 2014

If you're in an apartment with people living above you, just the natural vibration of people walking on their floors (your ceiling) can turn some fixtures into filament-killers. CFL or LED bypasses that.
posted by anonymisc at 3:54 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried swapping one of the bulbs that hasn't burnt out for a year into the Socket of Bulb Death? You might just have a really shitty batch of replacement bulbs.
posted by flabdablet at 5:59 AM on April 19, 2014

If all else fails, you would replace the whole switch housing/light kit assembly (by calling the manufacturer).
The socket is probably riveted in, so wouldn't be practical to replace.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:56 AM on April 19, 2014

What's the wattage on the bulbs? New ceiling fans (2009+) that ship with candelabra base bulbs are supposed to limit the lighting wattage to 190W max. It's possible that 3 60's is causing a limiter malfunction or that this is some weird idiosyncrasy. Does the bulb actually burn out?

CFL or LED would resolve this.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:19 AM on April 19, 2014

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