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I installed five incandescent, recessed light fixtures in the cathedral ceiling of my living room. The fixtures are wired in parallel series (A connects to B connects to C ...). All the wiring is done correctly.

However, the fixtures are burning out bulbs very quickly. More quickly than normal, in my experience. Some of the bulbs were expensive LED bulbs and the rest were incandescent floods.

What should I check? I really don't want to open and recheck every fixture, even though they are easily accessible from the attic. I need some idea of what to look for.

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    They should be in parallel not series. Check the dimmer if it has one. – Brad Gilbert Nov 3 '11 at 5:23
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    @BradGilbert I don't think the lights are really connected in series. I assume the lights are daisy chained, and the OP is just confusing terminology. – Tester101 Nov 3 '11 at 11:55
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    Are you using the proper wattage bulbs? How quickly is "very quickly", a minute, a month, a year? – Tester101 Nov 3 '11 at 11:58
  • @Tester101 Just double checked the label. I have 45W bulbs in a 40W (max) fixture. That must be the problem. I'll go grab some 40W bulbs and see how long they last... "Quickly" = one month. – Russell Thackston Nov 4 '11 at 17:49
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    Is there anything else on this circuit? Any motor type loads on the same circuit can wear down bulbs. – Steve Jackson Jan 6 '12 at 12:41
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I would look for a voltage drop caused by a loose connection in a junction box they tap from or service panel if they all do it, or individually if only certain ones do it. Putting a 100watt lamp in a 40watt socket is a safety(heat)issue (how much heat the fixture is rated to handle), if the fixture cant throw off the heat it would affect the lamps life some, but not that fast.

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Agree with Slickoops. The most likely cause of premature lamp death is current spikes caused by a cheap light switch. When the circuit is turned on, the resistance of the incadescent lamps is much lower than at operating temperature, causing the current to spike. A switch that does not close cleanely but draws arcs will compound this effect.

Try replacing the switch with a modern dimmer. Since you are mixing incandescent with LED, make sure you get a dimmer that is rated for CFL/LED.

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Try using a 130V bulb. I used just one in a fixture of 5 bulbs. I could only find a 130V bulb that is used for garage door opener. I have not lost a bulb yet after about 5 weeks, whereas I lost at least one a week before.

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Premature death of CFL/LED lighting in recessed fixtures is often a head build-up issue. The can traps heat. Electronics don't handle heat too well and the CFL ballasts give off the smell of electronic death, the LEDs just cook. High Wattage LED assemblies must have a large heat sink, if the manufacturer didn't create it with one, stay away. The fixture must have airflow so the heat sink can do its job.

Not sure what the issue with the incandescents is.

  • I have had several LEDs die in an upside down "can" (it's just a crappy floor lamp). – Joe Phillips Oct 24 '16 at 15:01
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I have found that a loose neutral wire can also cause premature burn out with incandescent bulbs

  • Remember, a loose neutral doesn't only mean a loose connection. When I say loose neutral, a loose neutral could have been caused with the insulation was stripped from the conductor. If the person cut into the insulation too deep and cut into the neutral conductor causing a NICK in the cable, you have effectively done the same thing by reducing the thickness of the conductor. – Dave Apr 18 '13 at 0:55
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Loose wires, vibrations (see this in basement recessed lighting), and most commonly having a bad connection between light bulbs and socket. Is there rust, is the tab in the light housing out or pushed in, does the light bulb screw in fully, does it screw in easily?

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