Auction Archive

 About this site
 Wanted to buy

bulb gallery

drawn tungsten
coiled tungsten
mini tungsten
pressed tung.
figural bulbs
christmas sets

neon lamps
argon lamps
xenon lamps
special mercury

plugs & fittings

tube gallery

 Box art

museum pics

 Dr. Hugh Hicks
Fort Myers, FL.


 Related links
 Submit a link


Author Topic: Spiral CFL bulbs, Fire Hazard!  (Read 39018 times)

Offline Anders Hoveland

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 21
Spiral CFL bulbs, Fire Hazard!
« on: September 05, 2013, 07:35:25 pm »
Energy Efficient Bulb Burns Down Home, Family Loses Everything
Cumberland Times, April 30, 2008, by Kevin Spradlin

 When Rick Jenkins began replacing the common, incandescent bulbs around his house with compact fluorescent lamps about 12 months ago, he didn't give much thought about saving the environment.

 Instead, the Bel Air resident and Pitt-Ohio Express truck driver just wanted to stop buying light bulbs so often. Any environmental benefit, he figured, was a side effect.

 That was then. A week has passed since a fire destroyed his split-level home on View Crest Drive. Rick Jenkins, wife Angie and 6-year-old daughter, Haley, lost everything but their family pooch, a 2-year-old goldendoodle. Fire investigators determined the fire was caused by a CFL connected to a dimmer switch. Packaging on many types of CFLs includes a warning not to connect them to dimmer switches.

 Now, just the notion of twisting in the curlycue bulbs is a real-life nightmare.

 "I wouldn't recommend them to anyone," Jenkins said Monday afternoon, bearing a strong odor of smoke after meeting with contractors at the site of the fire. "They aren't worth the cost."

 Damage to the Jenkins home is estimated at $165,000. While friends and loved ones are aiding the family, Jenkins is a bit in awe about how the fire started in the first place.

 "I don't read light bulbs," Jenkins said. "I wouldn't think I'd ever have to."

 Jenkins said many packages containing CFLs promote in large letters they can replace a "standard" light bulb. The fine print, however, includes some of the conditions in which they must be operated. [Only buried in the fine print] does the packaging warn that outdoor lights must be enclosed - Jenkins did have a globe over his outdoor CFL, where the fire originated - and not to use them with "emergency exit fixtures or lights, electronic timers, photocells or dimmers." Philips brand CFLs also include warnings on the outside of the package while GE prints a warning on the bulb itself. On much of GE's packaging, the bulb can be seen without having to be opened.

 Despite a very difficult week, Jenkins doesn't blame the light bulb for the fire. He said he's "not the type" to file a lawsuit over the issue but that people should be careful - and read the warning label - when buying anything that gets plugged in.

 "Bulb explodes without warning," reported, May 21, 2010.
 "Tom and Nancy Heim were watching TV recently, when Tom decided to turn on the floor lamp next to his recliner chair. 'I heard this loud pop...I saw what I thought was smoke, coming out of the top of the floor lamp,' says Tom. Nancy suddenly found glass in her lap. She says, 'I did not see it. I just heard it, and I noticed I had glass on me.'"

On February 23, 2011, TV NewsChannel 5 in Tennessee covered "a newly-released investigators' report that blames a February 12 fatal fire in Gallatin on one of those CFL bulbs." Ben Rose, an attorney for the rehabilitative facility in which Douglas Johnson, 45, perished, said, "This result is consistent with our own private investigation. ...We have heard reports of similar fires being initiated by CFLs across the country."

On February 15, 2010 a TV station reported a fire in Hinsdale, Illinois from a CFL plugged into a dimmer. Channel 2 CBS reporter Anne State said the producer of the news program tried to find a CFL that could be used with dimmers but discovered they were "very hard to find and cost more."
Fire-Displaced Family Learns Lesson About CFL Bulbs & Dimmer Switches - YouTube

 Many people have had bad experiences with the "energy saving" CFL spiral bulbs:

"Below is a picture of a CFL light bulb from my bathroom. I turned it on the other day and then smelled smoke after a few minutes. Four inch flames were spewing out of the side of the ballast like a blow torch! I immediately turned off the lights. But I'm sure it would have caused a fire if I was not right there. Imagine if the kids had left the lights on as usual when they were not in the room.

 I took the bulb to the Fire Department to report the incident. The Fireman wasn't at all surprised and said that it was not an uncommon occurrence. Apparently, sometimes when the bulb burns out there is a chance that the ballast can start a fire. He told me that the Fire Marshall had issued reports about the dangers of these bulbs.

 Upon doing some Internet research, it seems that bulbs made by Globe in China seem to have the lions share of problems. Lots of fires have been blamed on misuse of CFL bulbs, like using them in recessed lighting, pot lights, dimmers or in track lighting. Mine was installed in a normal light socket.

 I bought these at Wal-Mart. I will be removing all the Globe bulbs from my house."

"i really want to do my part for the environment but we just had a "bright effects" 3-way bulb pop, burn out and start smoking. when we removed the bulb the base was really hot btw!!!! then my husband was looking it over and it leaked a brown fluid on him!!! he washed it off immediately, but what was the brown fluid??? we had it in a regular lamp next to our chairs in the living room. the light is on for at least 7-8 hours/night. we bought it on january 14th and it is febuary 16th!!!! i'm not going with this particular type of "green" light bulb and i'm getting rid of the few we were trying out. i'll have to check into the led's i guess"

 - tara February 16, 2011

 "After about 2 years in service -- we thought we had an electrical fire in our bedroom -- perhaps in the walls? We were about ready to call the fire department (no joke) -- had cel phone in-hand! Fortunately, after about an hour after the nasty smell started to clear and we could stay in the room, we found the culprit -- a "Bright Effects" 13W CFL, LBP13T5, UL #E170906, which was installed in a ceiling fan (no dimmer). The map had discolored at the base and at one of the tubes which leave the base to form the spiral. Now, a week later, the bulb still smells nasty!
 What if we had not been home? How bad would the fire have been?
- Rick January 30, 2011

A video where a man shows and tells how a CFL bulb caught fire in his bathroom and did serious fire damage:

 CFL's can explode and cause fires:

So what is the real cost of all this environmental foolishness and totalitarian regulations that have reached into people's own homes?
 Under current law, we will all soon be forced to buy crappy "energy-efficient" lighting. I think we can expect to see a lot more house fires in the near future.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 03:17:01 pm by Anders Hoveland »

Offline Yulelights76

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 35
    • The Yule Lights Collection
Re: Spiral CFL bulbs, Fire Hazard!
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2013, 10:11:05 pm »
I have been using CFL bulbs for about 15 years since they first came out in the 1990s with the Philips earth light. The main problem found was early failure. I did have one bulb in which the capacitor burned out, but there was just smoke, no fire. Some technical information: CFL bulbs contain 2 electrolytic capacitors which form a voltage doubler to boost input voltage.
The 2 brands cited in the recall, Telstar and Trisonic are JUNK brands which are sold in dollar stores! Stay away.
As for new lighting technology the LED bulbs are much better there is no ramp - up the light comes on immediately and they are dimmable.
By the way, your post is somewhat overly dramatic. Are you trying to say that incandescent bulbs are NOT a fire hazard? A lot of fires have started from improper use of incandescent and halogen bulbs too. With any new technology there will be problems.
I do agree that any change should be by choice and not by government legislation.

Offline Anders Hoveland

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 21
Re: Spiral CFL bulbs, Fire Hazard!
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2013, 01:17:08 pm »
At least the old incandescent bulbs never burst into flames for no reason.

Incandescent bulbs can sometimes cause fires though if something flammable comes into contact with them. For example, sometimes when people have a light bulb hanging without a cover in their closet, they allow all their clothes to pile up to the ceiling, and then if a piece of cloth is laying right up against the bare bulb, and the light is left on for more than a few minutes, it can potentially catch the cloth on fire. And a 100 watt bulb should not be used in a fixture rated for only 60 watts, though there is usually a clear warning label. Still, even in this situation it is probably not going to catch anything on fire. Usually it was only the 100 watt bulb that had any real fire danger. A 70 watt bulb does not get too hot (I can manage to quickly unscrew one with my bare hands after letting it cool down for only 30 seconds).

But CFLs can catch fire for all sorts of different reasons, sometimes just because they are crappy quality (they are all made in China, not a big surprise). Many consumers may not be aware, but most CFLs are not supposed to be used in enclosed or recessed fixtures either, since they can overheat, especially the higher wattage ones (>16W). The electronics inside the base can get pretty hot, and once the plastic starts smoldering you have a problem. They also burn out very quickly if used in conjunction with ceiling fans, either because of the constant vibration or the power fluctuations caused by the motor.

I cannot find it now, but I read somewhere that the electronics inside the base of a typical CFL can heat up to around 132?F when the bulb is left on. Electronic components are not designed to operate under that much heat. It's no surprise then that various chemical resins inside the ballast can bake out over time and release potentially harmful vapors.
Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin?s Alab Laboratory, said: ?For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment.?

The bulbs are already widely used in the UK following EU direction to phase out traditional incandescent lighting by the end of this year.

But the German scientists claimed that several carcinogenic chemicals and toxins were released when the environmentally-friendly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were switched on, including phenol, naphthalene and styrene.

?Andreas Kirchner, of the Federation of German Engineers, said: ?Electrical smog develops around these lamps. I, therefore, use them only very economically. They should not be used in unventilated areas and definitely not in the proximity of the head.

Some more videos:

The long spiral tube of a CFL is much more fragile than the bulb shape of a regular light bulb. If there is a tiny break in the tube, and the CFL accidentally gets turned on, the whole thing will burst into flames. Check this out:
« Last Edit: September 06, 2013, 01:34:18 pm by Anders Hoveland »

Offline Justin

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 37
Re: Spiral CFL bulbs, Fire Hazard!
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 10:58:43 pm »
I use exclusively SYLVANIA Cfl's, because I've had problems with every other brand.