Sunday, October 09, 2011

How Sunbeam Almost Burned Down My House

Title is a bit hyperbolic.

Everybody loves CF bulbs, right? They are shaped funny, they use less energy, and they supposedly last longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

As I was sitting at my kitchen table working on my laptop, one of the four CF bulbs I have in the overhead fixture started flickering and making popping noises. I've had many CF bulbs burn out on me, so I wasn't terribly surprised, but I've never actually watched it happen.  Like I said before, they are supposed to last longer than incandescent bulbs but all the ones I've bought have been determined to prove that assertion wrong.

Anyway, the bulb sputters and dies, and I had two thoughts:
  1. That name brand bulb didn't last as long as the ones I bought from the dollar store.
  2. Looks like I'm going to have to change that ... sometime.
I went back to working, but within about 30 seconds I had an additional two thoughts:
  1. What is that burning smell?
  2. Maybe I should remove that bulb before it ignites.
I turned off the fixture, removed the bulb (clearly the source of the odor once I was close to is) and inspected it. The base was hot to the touch, and you can see the burned area in the photo. I can only imagine how much worse if would have gotten if I had not removed it within 60 seconds. 

From now on, all CF bulbs shall be turned off before we leave the house.

The marking on the bulb say: Sunbeam 120V, 60Hz, 475 mA, FE-IIS-26W, 26W, E217916, 53SJ
The bulb was not used with a dimmer, was not in a totally enclosed or recessed fixture, or used where exposed to the weather. 1007.


  1. My candle bulbs have started exploding, one showering the lounge in glass.

  2. tried switching my painting lights to CFL (like most of the rest of my house) and had to immediately go out to find some incandescents. the light output on cfl bulbs is kind of awful. I'll be trying out LEDs next time- if only they weren't so expensive.

  3. Necro comment incoming. I had quite a few bulbs do that after some research I found out that it is normal for them to burnout like that and it wouldn't have continued getting hotter after the initial "burn out".


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