CFL bulb explosion

Discussion in 'Environmental' started by seftonm, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    This has happened to me twice so far this month, I turned on an exterior CFL on my house and it immediately exploded. It's not very cold yet (-10C or 50F), still warmer than the suggested minimum for the bulb. Has anyone else had this happen? I'm not sure if it's the socket or the bulbs. I'm leaning towards the bulbs maybe being a bad batch at the moment. There were never any explosions when it was warmer out and incandescents seem to have average lifetimes in the same socket. I think I'll be going back to incandescents outside in the winter. CFL's are too costly to keep replacing and visitors won't appreciate being showered with shards of glass.

    EDIT: Evidently, the picture somehow got deleted. Unfortunately, I don't think I have a copy of it anywhere.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2008
  2. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Wow! I've never seen any explode.

    I've seen a couple thousand in the last 4 years where I work and I have been using them at home for about 10 years.

    What brand were they?

    What wattage?

    Were they in an enclosed fixture?

    Were they installed coil side up or coil side down?

    I would definitely contact the manufacturer.

    I have seen them in enclosed fixtures where the air temp was about 135 degrees and installed outside in open fixtures exposed to rain.
    GE seems to be a good bulb.
    I have had starting issues with Lights of America globe cfl's from WalMart.
  3. BailOut

    BailOut My favorite holiday is Earth Day!


    I've never seen that happen. Have you used this batch of bulbs anywhere else? If so then I'd suspect the socket. If not then I'd get another brand of bulb to try.
  4. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    I also have used these bulbs for 10 years and have changed 2. H
  5. Skwyre7

    Skwyre7 Well-Known Member

    I've had a bunch of exterior CFL's burn out, but never explode. Interesting.
  6. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    They were Philips Marathon, 13 or 14 watts. Not an enclosed fixture, installed horizontally so that the coil pointed outwards from the wall.

    I have one more from the batch in another socket outside, I took it out today after its twin exploded. The only other Marathon 13/14 that I know of blew last month, well before its time. I'm going to run a low power incandescent out there for a while to see what happens.
  7. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    I just thought of something. The bulb is right near our moderately heavy exterior door. I wonder if vibrations from closing the door along with the constant pull of gravity might be too much for it to handle. The light beam does visibly shake a little when the door is shut.
  8. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    Oh gee, I hope it is NOT the cold. I have one (all that is needed) in my garage that is not insulated. I have had it in there for 6 months and it is pretty nice not having to worry about changing (or rather getting a light changed) up in a very high ceiling.

  9. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Philips may be the problem. I posted previously that I was having trouble with Lights of America bulbs. I checked and they are Philips EL/SWP 14w 120v.

    They are the decorative cfl's that are covered with glass shaped like standard frosted bulbs. cfl's. They come on extremely dim and it takes about 4-5 minutes to warm-up.

    At work, we used 100 Phillips as at test against GE. They were CFL u-loops instead of spirals. They were 5 times more expensive and 100% had failed in 12 months.

    Do you have another brand of CFL to try in it.

    Philips website said they will start in temps as low as 0 degrees (f).
  10. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

    "lights of america", my butt...
  11. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    o.k. I left out one tidbit.

    Lights of America--MADE IN CHINA
  12. desdemona

    desdemona Well-Known Member

    Now why doesn't this surprise me??
    And also that there may be problems with them?

  13. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    I have a few GE's and Sylvanias but they seem to have more trouble starting if it gets too cold. I don't use them outside anymore because I was ending up having to just leave them on 24/7 during cold snaps. The Philips that exploded was made in China. I'm not sure where my other bulbs are from.
  14. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    I just checked the different brands of cfl's that I have at home. They are several different styles: Candelabra, standard incandescent shape, small globe, large globe, flood and the normal swirlies.

    GE- made in China

    Phillips- made in China

    Lights of America- made in China

    Feit- made in China
  15. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

    I just had one go bad on me last night while playing a game on the computer. The thing just started flashing like crazy (kinda freaked me out at first) and finally just went out. I refitted my whole house with them this spring/summer. I was quite disappointed that it burnt out that fast considering their 'extra long life'. The bulb was made by Westing House, mfg in China of course.
  16. aca2983

    aca2983 Well-Known Member

    I prefer GE. I don't use outdoors, even if the operating temperature range falls within the ambient temp range. In the past 10 years, all the CFLs of different brands I've used tend to fail more often if used outside.

    Don't use in a fixture with a timer or a photocell.
  17. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    Good indicator, that anything made in China should be left in the store!!! H
  18. Blake

    Blake Well-Known Member

    which means 98% of the goods sold in America :rolleyes:
  19. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    I've been using CFLs since 1993 or so, back when they were rare and expensive. I've gone through dozens and dozens of them, and never had one break.

    FWIW, I've never seen one brand perform much better or worse than another: I've used GE, Philips, Lights of America, Ikea and every offbrand that you can think of. All of them seem to have a premature failure rate of about 20%. But never had one shatter.
  20. vtec-e

    vtec-e Celtic MPG Warrior

    I have had a cfl mounted outside for the past 3 months and nothing bad happened yet. It is enclosed in a glass bowl type enclosure so it's not exposed to wind etc. Apparently they shouldn't be enclosed due to overheating but i'm thinking being outside will offset some of this.

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