I was sitting at my desk in my home office and I wanted to turn on the room light, but I couldn't reach - I was off from the switch by about 3 inches. Being too lazy to get out of my chair, I picked up my external battery pack (exactly the same one as shown below) which was on my desk, clipped a binder clip onto it and reached for the switch.

The moment I hit the switch on, the lightbulb flashed on and burnt out.

I thought "ok that was weird, I guess it was going to burn out anyway"

I got a new lightbulb, put it in and flipped on the lightswitch normally. The light went on but burned out after three seconds.

I thought it could be a coincidence (i.e. defective bulb) so I tried it again.

Same thing happened. Now I'm convinced that me turning on the light with my battery/binder clip contraption really screwed up the light.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what may have happened and how I might be able to fix it?

Note: All lightbulbs in this story are incandescent 60 watt, 120 volts. Battery Pack Binder Clip

  • 1
    Common wall switch? Coincidence. Do an AC voltage check. It's not unheard of that municipalities have equipment failures resulting in overvoltage situations. Problems with other lights in the house?
    – isherwood
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 21:59
  • @isherwood yup typical lightswitch. No problems with other lights in the house Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 22:11
  • Incandescent bulbs, I assume? They do sometimes fail early
    – keshlam
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 22:17
  • 1
    Please do us all a big favor and report the answer here when you find out what it is. You are going to cause many sleepless nights and distracted days with your battery pack and your binder clip. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 2:07
  • 2
    My bad. I was thinking of another Q where the guy's breaker tripped when he turned on the light. I was suspecting a mechanically faulty socket. In your case, my guess is voltage is too high. CFs (and especially LEDs for that matter) contain electronics which might be internally capable of 100-250v so they can be mass produced and used in bulbs all over the world. Simple incandescent (glowing wire) lights need to have the correct length wire for the voltage, or the wire melts. See if you can safely measure the voltage at the socket. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 19:25

3 Answers 3


One likely reason is that the light bulbs came from a defective batch. You could try moving a known working bulb from a different location to the suspicious location to verify.

Another reason is that there could be an over-voltage. If possible, use a volt meter to measure the voltage. The voltage should be somewhere between 105 and 125 V (in the united states). If it's out of this range, then there is an equipment fault somewhere. Some reasons would include bad wiring (open neutral) or faulty transformers. It's likely that an electrician would need to be hired (or perhaps power company involvement) to repair the electrical system in this case.


Possibly a coincidence having 3 bulbs burn-out, but here are some suggestions. The voltage in the circuit is over the normal household 120 volts. It would be best to verify this with a voltage tester. It could be the brand of bulbs that you used. My local Ace brand light bulbs are the lowest priced bulbs on the shelf (for good reason), but they don't last more than a few hours.

I've had great results with the incandescent bulbs labeled for "Heavy Duty" use. These bulbs have been made with a thicker filament which enables them to stand-up to higher voltage and abuse. They are rated at 130 volts.

Lastly, make sure the bulb is fully seated when installed. A gap my create arcing and terminate the bulb quickly.

  • I always thought heavy duty filaments were for high vibration applications like garage door openers. 130v should be really really rare. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 19:28
  • 1
    @billycrook- yes the thicker bulb filaments do survive better when jolted , but for the same reason they can handle greater voltage. And they can be purchased from any well stocked hardware store.
    – ojait
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 21:16

How old are the lights? They were probably not sealed well and the element burned. Try a light from a diferent pkg. I purchased a case of 100W prior to the outlaw date 9+ months later aprox 30% failed same thing.

  • Is that a common problem with all bulbs or just cheaper brands? I've got a few boxes of GE incandescent bulbs that've been sitting in the back of my closet for a few years; that I bought in part thinking that if needed I could swap them all in to collectively function as an emergency space heater. Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 22:16
  • These were brand named Sylvania and I did get them just before they could no longer be sold. I have a good area sales person and she gave me credit for them all after watching 2 go. I tested them all and that was a while back and no more had problems so far.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 22:37

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