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Compact Flourescent lamps... a.k.a. what does Ship know about civilian lighting?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by gafftaper, Jan 2, 2007.

  1. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    SHIP! Ship! That's supposed to say "what does SHIP know about civilian lighting"... Bumped the return key and it was too late to change it. Although Ship is a pretty Hip guy... Anyway...

    Fixed--AL


    A little over three weeks ago the wife and I purchased two new lamps for the living room. Both lamps have a standard 3 way switch... that simple stem that sticks out of the side of the lamp that you twist which goes through low, medium, high, and off. In order to save electricity, we purchased some Sylvania 3-way compact fluorescent lamps. After a few days of use, one of the lamps developed an intermittent flicker when on high, no flicker on low. After two weeks it burned out. Lamp #2 is working just fine. Figuring it was just bad luck, I purchased a third lamp. On the second day it developed the same flicker. Did my Lowes Hardware store just get a shipment of bad bulbs? Is there something weird about the way my lamps are wired? Any thoughts?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2007
  2. BillESC

    BillESC Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Re: Compact Flourescent lamps... a.k.a. what does hip know about civilian lighting?

    CF lamps do not like dimmers since they have a ballest. You should rewire the fixture to simple on/off if you want to continue using CF bulbs.
     
  3. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Re: Compact Flourescent lamps... a.k.a. what does hip know about civilian lighting?

    In reply to BillESC: What he is saying is that he got the proper 3-way bulbs. If you know how a 3-way system works, there is a dim filament, a brighter filament, and then a setting with both filaments on. In other words, it's an artificial re-creation of a 3-level dimmer. There is one filament that is dim that is lower wattage that can be switched on or off, and one of higher wattage. The lower wattage one is the first setting, the higher wattage one is the second setting, and both is the third setting. Thus, there is no dimming involved.

    In reply to the original question: I have no idea why your bulbs are screwing up. I would double-check the contacts inside your socket to make sure that nothing is messing up there.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Re: Compact Flourescent lamps... a.k.a. what does hip know about civilian lighting?

    Yeah Soundlight's got it, it's not a dimmer its a good old fashioned 3 way socket. The lamp is designed by Sylvania to operate at 12, 19, and 28 watts just like a standard 3 way bulb. It's pretty slick.

    As for checking contacts, the first bulb that died was in lamp #1, bulb #2 that has shown no sign of problems is now in lamp #1. Bulb #3 that is now flickering on high (like bulb #1 did before it died) is in Lamp #2... so we would be talking about bad contacts in two lamps and the first one has apparently healed itself. It's weird stuff man!

    I also forgot to mention that just before Lamp#1 died there was a loud but extremely high pitch sound... the ballast blowing up perhaps?
     
  5. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Re: Compact Flourescent lamps... a.k.a. what does hip know about civilian lighting?

    Sounds good so far, have to re-read in your having already done process of elimination by way of putting the known to work lamp into the known to not work fixture so as to verify that it's the lamp not the fixture. Second tested lamp now sort of working and all of that. Confusing and needs a re-read.

    Process of elimination means that you potentially have two bad and one good lamps assuming that the fixtures are both good.

    Not familar with 3-way compact fluorescent lamps - cool idea, not seen them so far. Return your bad lamps to Lowels = there should be a exchange. Pull lamps from the back of the shelf, they should be a different lot number.

    I'm forwarding the question to my Osram rep. Either he will hop on and answer or send me a response of ideas otherwise.

    Otherwise as per normal electrical procedures while waiting, meter the voltage to the fixture at the outlet that is giving problems and both so as to ensure there is no voltage problems and or wiring problems. Meter the voltage than at the fixture so as to ensure there is no wiring problems in the fixture.

    Assuming none of this, but possibly a voltage issue not crossed out yet. Bad lamps as a theory and I now have another lamp type to study.
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Thanks. I'll put a meter on the lamps and see what I find. They are on different circuits and they are different models of lamp, although the same manufacturer. So it seems most likely to me that I just stumbled across a bad batch of lamps.

    Yes 3 way C.F lamps are apparently a new and fairly rare product. These are Sylvania from Lowes. I checked Home Depot to see what Phillips has to offer and either they don't carry them or Phillips doesn't make a similar product.
     
  7. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Chatted with my Osram/Sylvania rep. last week about them. Yep, they are a brand new product and will no doubt have some "getting to know you" type new product issues. He was assuming also that it's probably a bad lot number thing given how new to the market the lamps are.

    But here is some assumptions about them that should be checked out which might have effected the lamps. First the voltage at the outlet feeding each of the fixtures. Than the voltage at the fixture's lamp base to verify that there is no problems at the fixture. (It's assumed and not inferred that while I don't know you, you are safely able to meter the fixtures - just a liability careful type of thing...)

    If too low in voltage applied to the lamp, it would tend to allow the lower wattage lamps to strike and maintain an arc, but the higher wattage lamps not to maintain an arc, and keep attempting to strike one. This lack of ability to maintain an arc would also tend to destroy the ballast - bang over a period of time attempting to. Very possible that one ballast to the next, one ballast has a bit more power than another and it can operate sufficiently to maintain an arc on a lower voltage in than another ballast. Still, it should just be one say 23w ballast in the lamp and a switch between lamps. A lower wattage lamp is going to require a lot less to strike and maintain than the max wattage lamp.

    This voltage/ballast signature issue could all explain how and why it worked in one and didn't in another etc. type lamp swapping troubleshooting. Same problem often you will find with moving light lamps - they will be dull and off color in one fixture, or not even strike. Install them into another fixture and they work and look fine. Again bad lot number of the ballast but possibly due to lack of sufficient voltage at the outlet or fixture - one or both.

    If the voltage at this point is confirmed to be 110v or more, that would tend to be a lamp problem as the sole problem. New technology. If not sufficient in voltage - correct the problem before attempting to use such lamps - even if they seem to work now.

    Another thing that by way of "Osram Photo-Optic Lighting Products Catalog" - 1999 you might note on an arc source lamp having voltage issues is that the Color Temperature will go up in looking more bluish, but the Luminous Output and Color Rendering Index of the lamp will go down. Something about the "reddish" components of the color spectrum of light given off will vaporize during startup and will be the first to condense while being dimmed or loosing voltage. Arc lamps not operated at their rated voltage do not last their rated lamp life.

    Osram by way of "Martin Tech News" about HMP lamps notes that over voltaging of a lamp by 1.5 times will reduce lamp (given it does not rupture) and is of voltage boosting type to about 50% it's expected lamp life. Not stated but dimmed or lower voltage fed arc lamps should also suffer lamp life life decreases.

    Not totally sure that this would be the case given a fluorescent lamp uses a phosphor coating to provide the light but it's possible the above notes.

    GE Institute 10/9/01 "High Intensity Discharge Lamp Dimming" also has notes on dimming arc source lamps but I didn't find any notes on lamp life reduction factors or anything that applies. It can be assumed however given the above that your lamps if operated at less than say 115v probably won't live up to their expected lamp life, plus not have as good a CRI as expected even in the lower wattage modes of the lamps. Just a side thought/note if there is voltage problems.

    Me, I'm not a fan of compact fluorescent lamps. Remember the times at Marriot Lincolnshire Theater, up in the ceiling - it was lit by compact fluorescent lamps. Every time I used a sawzall or corded drill up in the ceiling, there would be a voltage drop and the lamps would suddenly loose their arc. Yep, lots of fun. Start the drill and the lights would go all blinkie. Them were the days.
     
  8. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Ok, so I made sure the two year old was well asleep so he doesn't get any ideas about sticking things into light sockets and then broke out the multi-meter. I'm getting between 122.6 and 122.8 Volts out of both wall outlets. Lamp #1 which is responsible for killing CF #1 (but seems to have no problem with CF#2) puts out between 121.8-122.0 volts. Lamp #2 which also had no problem with CF #2 (but has a flicker when CF#3 is on high) puts out between 122.3 and 122.5 Volts.

    I'm no electrician but those numbers seem reasonable to me.
     
  9. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    seems reasonable to me also in ruling out both fixture and wall. Bad lot number than.
     
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Thanks Ship!! You Da MAN!!!
     

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