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I have a light bulb fixture on the ceiling in one room of my house that holds 3 bulbs.

fixture 1 fixture 2

The previous owner installed it to make the room extra bright, for certain work and tasks to be done here, that simply require a bright environment.

I used to put in 75 - 100 watt incandescent bulbs in the fixture.

Most of the time though one of the three bulbs would burn out super fast (like within months if not weeks... I got tired of changing them all the time, especially because its such an ordeal with the big, heavy, decorative screw-on glass cover mounted to the fixture). Burned out bulbs would leave the room unevenly lit, and generally not bright enough.

At the same time though 3 100W bulbs were kind of making you squint a bit, because it was SO bright...

I wanna say 2 years ago, maybe 1.5 years ago I saw some 60W-equivalent CFL bulbs on sale and bought a package. I used 3 of those in this fixture, and TADA! No more burned out bulbs since then, and generally perfect lighting conditions (except for the first minute when you turn them on, but oh well...)

It's been going good for probably a year or longer.

About 3 months ago I noticed that one of the CFL bulbs was making a buzzing noise.

I changed it with a newer bulb and that fixed the problem, I figured the bulb might have had a factory defect, as they are supposed to last 10 years.

This morning I noticed that the light is making a buzzing noise again!

Haven't been able to check which bulb it is, but come on!

What am I doing wrong, what can I do to prevent this from happening to the bulbs?

I find the noise not only annoying but I am also concerned about safety: I had installed one of the bulbs in a fixture in the basement once, and while I was down there I noticed that the light started buzzing, then flickering. When I looked I saw it was practically burning on the base/ballast. I turned the switch off immediately and the flames stopped... Hasn't happened with any of the other bulbs since then (I bought 2 packages of 8, one of which I didn't need to open yet). Again I assumed at the time it was a defect with one of the bulbs.

Is there anything I need to be aware of regarding lighting? I figured each fixture has 120V on it, so it shouldn't matter what bulb you put in, should it?

Oh, and these are no dimmable lights.

EDIT: It took me forever, but here is finally a picture of my setup light fixture setup I don't see why there would be any heat issues arising, especially since the fluorescent bulbs don't get hot...

  • Question: Where did you get the white, three bulb socket assembly shown above ? I need one just like it, the same dimensions. – Lubin Prevatt Jul 17 '17 at 15:46
  • Lol it came with the house and i no longer live there... sorry – olli Jul 17 '17 at 20:23
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Do you have a picture of the cover? It seems very likely that all your problem simply relate to an overheating. Is there a chance for a better air flow (thermal ventilation)?

  • Thanks for your answer - it took me a while but I finally got around to taking a picture of it. I am not so sure about the overheating, especially since the fluorescent bulbs produce barely any heat... – olli Nov 24 '14 at 10:07
  • The temperature is always relative and depends on the type of bulb. The nearby glass could reflect too much infrared rays. Additionally the construction of the lamp and the nearby ceiling does not allow a good air flow. Furthermore the temperature of the electronic inside the bulbs is also a factor. There is a warm air buffer over it which avoids a flow of fresh air from outside to the bulbs. Have you tried to run the lamp without the glass? – Aviator Nov 25 '14 at 9:23
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It could be that the tab at the center of one of the light sockets is not making adequate contact and this is producing an arc between the tab and the bulb. Overheating and premature failure might result. Try bending the tab out toward the bulb and screw the bulb back in so proper contact is made.

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CFLs vary greatly in quality and lifetime. Almost all are overseas products, so you're depending on the marketing company to enforce the quality control at the factory. Stay with Sylvania or Phillips. Stay away from brands you've never heard of. Even in that case, the ballasts on CFLs can be flaky. Some will last years and others will last an hour before they start popping and flickering.

@Grant has a good suggestion. And that 10-year lifetime depends greatly on the duty cycle. 10 years is for 3-4 hours per day without multiple on-off cycles. Rapid on-off cycling can reduce lifetime greatly.

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