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Light bulbs keep blowing...

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Jun 22, 2008
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when light bulbs keep blowing

Please, I would like to help my excellent previous employers, -the Carling Academy Nightclub and music venue in Birmingham, UK.

I worked there some years ago, and often had to replace many of the many incandescent light bulbs which they had on the premises.
The bulbs used to fail with great regularity, and often used to blow as you inserted them into the socket.

I am thinking “dirty mains supply” ??

But why would it be “dirty” ?, there were (as far as I know) no factories or heavy electrical plant operating nearby.

However, I DO remember that this night-club had an air ventilation system involving 100’s of yards of yard_diameter air ducting (pipes) through which air was blown by an absolutely HUGE electric fan.

This fan was about 20 feet in diameter, it sucked air in from many slats which opened out from a corridor to the outside air.

When the fan was operating , it was virtually impossible to open the door to this corridor due to the sheer suction power of this huge fan.

Do you believe it was the fan that somehow was causing overvoltage transients on the electricity supply that made the bulbs keep blowing?

How could they solve their problem?

light bulb keep blowing

It was probably a combination of cheap bulbs an mains voltage above what it should be. Incandescent bulbs have a reasonable thermal mass and short spikes should not harm them.

eem2am said:
... and often used to blow as you inserted them into the socket.
This means bad quality bulbs.
There are countries with 110, 115, 117,120 and 127V mains. So, it is possible that the ones you´ve used were intended to be used in another country. Also, were the lamps used in blinking or flashing circuits? This requires using special filament bulbs (like the ones used in cars or in airplanes).

thankyou, no they werent for flashing, they were just on

You´ve mentioned a "HUGE fan". Does this also means the Nightclub has a dedicated transformer to power all the installation? If so it could be oversized due to the large current needed by the fan. When the fan is off you get an overvoltage in the mains.

Added after 6 minutes:

Another possibility: are the bulbs well ventilated? As the filaments heat they suffer a lot. Poorly ventilated bulbs last less.

The first helping step would be measuring the mains voltage of the affected circuits, particularly checking the neutral to earth voltage difference. Typically weak or broken neutral lines in a three phase installation cause voltage imbalance and possibly huge overvoltages at loads connected to the phase with the smallest load.

As far as the ventilation drive uses a regular three phase motor, it should not cause problems, except for voltages dips during machine run-up. As a special case, an incorrectly operated reactive power compensator can cause grid overvoltages.

Incandescent light bulbs are obsolete. They were designed to burn out so that you buy more and more and the manufacturers get rich.

I had a timer wired to turn on a light at dusk, and off in the early morning hours.
I would have to replace the bulb at least once a month. After replacing a dozen bulbs, it started to bother me because access to the light is very limited.

I installed a photosensor in place of the timer and the light bulb has not been changed in well over 18 months, (almost two years to this day).

I figured it was a poor switch. (in fact a year previous to this I had replaced the timer with a new one and it made no difference)

Probably just a poor quality switch within the timer.

Lamps should not be replaced with power on to the socket. They should not move.
If they are very cold when they swith on that can blow them.

Audioguru said:
Incandescent light bulbs are obsolete. They were designed to burn out so that you buy more and more and the manufacturers get rich.

I agree. In the place I´m living in, when the voltage was changed from 115 to 127V some 20 years ago, it took 12 years for the manufacturers to change the lamps to the new voltage (under the force of the law).

I can buy dim orange incandescent bulbs that do not have the extremely high temperature of brighter bulbs so they last for a very long time.
They look awful.

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