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Thread: Strong unpleasant whiff emitted at the end of life of a beloved compact fluorescent lamp...

  1. Top | #11
    Veteran Member KeepTalking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post

    Yes, I understand that, but I think the idea is that CFLs are now the norm and all those millions of lamps are going to make up a significant trickle of mercury to be disposed of.

    Quote Originally Posted by thebeave View Post
    Another tip about the CFLs is that most are not designed to be used in an enclosed fixture (too much heat build up). This shortens the life, which is partially why it seems they don't last as long as they are advertised to last. Same with LEDs.
    Thanks, I didn't know that. Mine was in the kitchen, a bare bulb without anything around. I guess it blew up essentially because I was one the first CFLs I bought at the time, the kind that take ages to start to emit light, so perhaps no quite the thing yet.

    I'm also intrigued to see that there is a neutral wire (third wire, dressed in two colours) connected to it. I suspect this may not be necessary and maybe perhaps even a bad idea. Could it have contributed to the lamp's failure?
    EB
    That is likely the ground wire, and it is necessary to trip the circuit breaker in case of the light fixture pulling too much voltage (amperage?). It would not have contributed to the bulb burning out, and removing it would be a bad idea.

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeepTalking View Post
    That is likely the ground wire, and it is necessary to trip the circuit breaker in case of the light fixture pulling too much voltage (amperage?). It would not have contributed to the bulb burning out, and removing it would be a bad idea.
    OK, thanks.

    I just don't remember ever having those in previous accommodations. Although it was a long time ago, so maybe I just forgot. But, presumably, it's that the regulation changed at some point.
    EB

  3. Top | #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeepTalking View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post

    Yes, I understand that, but I think the idea is that CFLs are now the norm and all those millions of lamps are going to make up a significant trickle of mercury to be disposed of.

    Quote Originally Posted by thebeave View Post
    Another tip about the CFLs is that most are not designed to be used in an enclosed fixture (too much heat build up). This shortens the life, which is partially why it seems they don't last as long as they are advertised to last. Same with LEDs.
    Thanks, I didn't know that. Mine was in the kitchen, a bare bulb without anything around. I guess it blew up essentially because I was one the first CFLs I bought at the time, the kind that take ages to start to emit light, so perhaps no quite the thing yet.

    I'm also intrigued to see that there is a neutral wire (third wire, dressed in two colours) connected to it. I suspect this may not be necessary and maybe perhaps even a bad idea. Could it have contributed to the lamp's failure?
    EB
    That is likely the ground wire, and it is necessary to trip the circuit breaker in case of the light fixture pulling too much voltage (amperage?). It would not have contributed to the bulb burning out, and removing it would be a bad idea.
    Well, not exactly. The circuit breaker doesn't need a ground wire to trip. Homes in the US built before the early 1960's didn't typically have ground wires, but they did have circuit breakers (or fuses). The breaker trips when the current in the circuit exceeds the rating on the circuit e.g. 20 amps. The ground wire is there to provide a path for current during a fault condition (e.g. a hot wire shorts to the metal case in an appliance), instead of going through the rather unlucky person.

  4. Top | #14
    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebeave View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by KeepTalking View Post

    That is likely the ground wire, and it is necessary to trip the circuit breaker in case of the light fixture pulling too much voltage (amperage?). It would not have contributed to the bulb burning out, and removing it would be a bad idea.
    Well, not exactly. The circuit breaker doesn't need a ground wire to trip. Homes in the US built before the early 1960's didn't typically have ground wires, but they did have circuit breakers (or fuses). The breaker trips when the current in the circuit exceeds the rating on the circuit e.g. 20 amps. The ground wire is there to provide a path for current during a fault condition (e.g. a hot wire shorts to the metal case in an appliance), instead of going through the rather unlucky person.
    Yes, that's how I understand it. So, if with bare fingers I touch the female socket which is unprotected metal, I might still survive, assuming I'm not in my bath at the time or barefoot on a wet floor?
    EB

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    This is turning into a sitcom series... And it's bad news again this morning for John.

    A second CFL blew up, exactly in the same way but this time in the bathroom. I was there and I switched it off before it could emit any noxious fumes I could smell. I guess I am getting the hang of it. No burn mark either this time, although possibly a small bit a plastic at the base of the tube melted down (there's a hole one millimetre wide there).

    It has the same kind of helicoidal tube but a different brand, though probably also a cheap one, and probably one of the first CFLs I bought, the kind that takes a long time to provide full lighting. There's also a ground wired as in the kitchen.

    So, given the coincidence, what could be the common cause? I am thinking possibly of a bit of survoltage. The one lamp that's switched on at the time will be the one lamp that blow up. However, this time I was shaving, and nothing bad happened to the electric razor I was using. Maybe I should try to have always two CFLs on at the same time to see if they both blow up.

    And the incandescent light bulb we used to have would have been more resilient to a survoltage, I think. So, it might become a recurrent problem, although it's possible it would only affect the first CFLs that came out on the market. I remember waiting some time to buy the first one be maybe I didn't wait long enough. I was so impatient at the time.

    Still, this episode ends well, John kissing his girlfriend in front of a glorious sunset.
    EB

  6. Top | #16
    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Some electrical work in my street. There had been a failure somewhere resulting in a power cut on the other side of the street, including street lighting. The guy said it couldn't possibly affect my building... Different power station. Well, who knows...

    Work started only yesterday morning, well after the first lamp blew up. But I think the failure may have been more like a few days ago. So, the connection is like not exactly impossible.

    Is this going to ever end?

    I bought my first LED lamp today. Nice light but not exactly cheap. I hope it's good value for money.
    EB

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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Good, no blow job today.
    EB

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    Quantum Hot Dog Kharakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    I'm also intrigued to see that there is a neutral wire (third wire, dressed in two colours) connected to it. I suspect this may not be necessary and maybe perhaps even a bad idea. Could it have contributed to the lamp's failure?
    EB
    Umm... does neutral mean something different over there in regards to electrical?

  9. Top | #19
    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharakov View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    I'm also intrigued to see that there is a neutral wire (third wire, dressed in two colours) connected to it. I suspect this may not be necessary and maybe perhaps even a bad idea. Could it have contributed to the lamp's failure?
    EB
    Umm... does neutral mean something different over there in regards to electrical?
    Watt?

    So, it's not just with philosophy that there are endless terminological disputes?

    Maybe there is something like Continental Electricity as there is indeed Continental Philosophy...

    A neutral wire will be... Wait! Somebody already said it (He obviously read your mind. I'd be worried if I were you.):

    Ground and neutral
    As the neutral point of an electrical supply system is often connected to earth ground, ground and neutral are closely related. Under certain conditions, a conductor used to connect to a system neutral is also used for grounding (earthing) of equipment and structures. Current carried on a grounding conductor can result in objectionable or dangerous voltages appearing on equipment enclosures, so the installation of grounding conductors and neutral conductors is carefully defined in electrical regulations. Where a neutral conductor is used also to connect equipment enclosures to earth, care must be taken that the neutral conductor never rises to a high voltage with respect to local ground.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_and_neutral
    I used "neutral" as I wasn't too sure it was really used for grounding, although I accept it's the likely reason.

    My brand new 15W LED I bought two days ago for 9.90 Euros, not cheap, works brightly. A bit too much in fact. I feel like my bathroom turned into an operating block. 10W would be best, likely.
    EB

  10. Top | #20
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    For the mercury to escape the enclosure would have to break. What you probably smelled was a burned electronic component in the power supply. Plastic around the parts.

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