My ceiling fan light bulbs burnout frequently. From what I can tell the fan is mounted well and does not oscillate more than I would expect it to. I use GE multi-use soft white 40 watt intermediate light bulbs which are marketed for use in ceiling fans. Unfortunately, my local Home Depot does not carry any other bulb brands in this size. That said with the bulbs burning out so frequently it seems more likely to be another issue unrelated to the bulb themselves, but I am open to suggestions of others to try. What could be causing the bulbs to burnout frequently?

YouTube video of my ceiling fan running on high.

GE multi-use soft white 40 watt intermediate light bulb packaging

  • How frequently are they burning out?
    – Kris K.
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 21:47
  • Every couple of weeks. Much sooner than 1 year. :)
    – ahsteele
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 22:45
  • 3
    I would either buy ROUGH SERVICE lamps, APPLIANCE RATED lamps or fluorescent lamps (as long as you are not dimming). The incandescents are designed to take more vibration than regular lamps. Make sure they are 130V, which have a heavier filament. Even the big names in lamps sometimes packages cheap imports that are no good.
    – lqlarry
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 3:58
  • Is the fan controlled by the same switch as the light?
    – Tester101
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 11:48
  • @Tester101 it is.
    – ahsteele
    Commented Dec 21, 2011 at 16:19

4 Answers 4


Does your ceiling fan wobble? Shaking a light bulb can break the filament. See How do I balance a ceiling fan?

Is your line voltage reliable? An electrician told me once that he swears by 130V-rated bulbs. If voltage surges a little, the 130V bulb will tolerate it better than lower-rated bulbs. The rating is printed on the top of the bulb. However, if this was the problem, you'd probably see it in other fixtures, too.

Line voltage varies because keeping voltage steady under varying load is very, very hard.

  • Even on the highest setting the fan has no noticeable wobble. I provided a link to a YouTube video in my question.
    – ahsteele
    Commented Sep 10, 2011 at 6:19
  • 5
    +++ for 130 volt bulbs. They may give you an unnoticeable drop in lumens, but will outlast 120 volt bulbs. Also burning bulbs base up tends to really shorten the life span. I also think the bulbs are made so cheap. Won't matter much longer as they will be phased out after the first of the year. Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 10:01
  • 2
    The 130 volt light bulbs seem to be holding up better.
    – ahsteele
    Commented Dec 20, 2011 at 18:55

Have you considered compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs? No moving parts mean no need to worry about vibration. Admittedly, they're not the nicest-looking things that you can stick in a fixture, and the color balance may not be what you want.

  • 2
    LED bulbs would be another option too. Commented Jan 5, 2012 at 21:46

I have the same issue with any intermediate base bulb. I even tried not running my ceiling fan. Same thing: one week and they were burned out.

My suggestion is extreme but it's the best solution, and that is to change the light fixture to one that uses anything but intermediate base bulbs. Don't beat yourself up trying to find out what is wrong like say voltage or brand name or even fan wobble. They are impossible to find anyway.


I have a ceiling fan with four sockets. One socket would not work at all, and one caused a CFL light to flicker and hum when in use, and burn out in about a month.

I disassembled the fan to check the wiring. Redoing the lamp wiring (5 white wires into a twist-on wire connector, and 5 black wires into another twist-on connector) was enough to get the non-working socket working again.

As for the flickering socket, I found the wiring to the porcelain socket was brittle, and broke as I was examining it. I got a replacement socket for $5 at our town's older hardware store, and now that socket works without a hum.

This was my first ceiling fan wiring job, and took a full day from start to cleanup. It will take a few months to see if this also results in light bulbs not burning out as often.

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