Light Bulbs That Last The Longest – On the House

Light Bulbs That Last The Longest

By on August 6, 2015
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Thomas Edison would marvel at the staggering impact his invention of the light bulb has had on modern society. From a simple reading lamp nestled next to a favorite easy chair to Paris – “the city of City of Lights” — the light bulb is most certainly a necessary part of daily life.

However, as with a cure for the common cold, modern technology has yet to produce a light bulb that will last indefinitely. Thus, we find ourselves on a chair or stepladder, more often than we would prefer, replacing light bulbs no longer able to produce light.

Thus, we (especially those of us fearful of heights) find ourselves shopping for a light bulb that will produce light for the greatest amount of time. Unfortunately, many of us don’t realize that there are other equally important factors that will affect the life of a light bulb.

First things first. Allow us to shed a bit of light on what it is that makes a light bulb shed light. In a word, electricity. Electricity heats a metal filament contained in the light bulb causing it to glow and give off light. Some of the filament, often made of tungsten, evaporates during use and due to the high temperatures at which it is operated.

Moreover, the filament does not evaporate evenly. Therefore, some spots will experience greater evaporation and, consequently, will become thinner than the rest of the filament. It is precisely at these thin spots that the filament will break rendering the bulb powerless. Often this will occur when flicking a switch to turn on a light. The sudden rush of heat is just enough to turn the thin spot in the filament into a break.

How long should the average incandescent light bulb last? Although the figure varies by size and brand, the average maximum life is about one thousand hours. That is equal to about three months when operated ten hours per day. A light bulb that burns round the clock will last about a month.

Many people believe that the ratings supplied by bulb manufacturers are anything but realistic due to the fact that their light bulbs rarely approach a life of one thousand hours. Often, a light bulb with an early demise has more to do with conditions surrounding its use than with the bulb itself.

For example, excessive heat is a major cause of bulb failure. Excessive heat can be caused by several factors including a bulb with too high wattage in too small an enclosed fixture. The heat can’t escape; thus the bulb burns too hot, leading to short bulb life. If you find yourself constantly replacing light bulbs in your recess light fixtures, it likely is due to overheating.

This overheating is generally the result of using a bulb that is larger than the maximum recommended wattage or from insulation installed too close to the housing in the attic. This condition restricts adequate ventilation causing the bulb to burn hotter.

Modern recess fixtures come equipped with a built-in circuit breaker that will automatically turn the fixture off when it overheats. Although this is a great safety feature, if this condition occurs frequently, the bulb size and insulation should be checked. Some recess cans are encased in a protective housing which permits them to be covered by insulation. With others, the insulation was be held back (typically three inches) in accordance with the directions.

Vibration is another frequent cause of bulb failure. Bulbs located under a stairwell, mounted on the ceiling below a second floor teeming with youngsters, attached to a wobbly decorative ceiling paddle fan, near an exterior door that is often slammed or attached to an automatic garage door opener often meet an early death.

One of the most effective means of dealing with vibration is to install “shock resistant” or “rough service” light bulbs. These bulbs are a bit pricier because the filaments are sturdier, but are cheaper in the long run when compared to frequent replacement of standard light bulbs.

Another possible reason for early and frequent bulb failure is over-voltage. This is when the voltage is 125 volts or higher. If you suspect that this is the problem, you can test for it using an inexpensive multimeter purchased from your local electronics store. If after testing, the voltage is indeed 125 volts or higher, advise your power company. If the condition is deemed safe, you can buy special 125 volt or 130 volt bulbs although they are hard to find and can cost an arm and a leg.

Finally, what discussion about light bulbs would be complete without touching on flickering? Intermittent electrical contact can cause flickering. In laymen’s terms – the bulb isn’t screwed in properly or the contact at the base of the socket needs to be pried up a tad. In addition, the light socket can be defective or there may be a poor electrical connection somewhere in the wires leading to the light – most likely at the fixture.

Unfortunately, flickering can do more than just get on your nerves – it can cause a fire. Therefore, have a qualified electrician check it out.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.


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