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Author Topic: Modern Candle String Bulbs  (Read 6251 times)

Offline Alan Franzman

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Modern Candle String Bulbs
« on: November 25, 2001, 04:55:00 am »
A few years ago, my mother bought from the QVC shopping channel a string of 20 clear miniature Christmas tree lights in bases that look like candles.  Although series-wired like most any miniature light set, these have a very interesting feature: 10 of the bulbs blink INDEPENDENTLY.  The other 10 flicker somewhat, in unison, in response to the changing current level caused by the random effect of the others blinking.  According to text on the back of the package, the 10 steady-burning "ballast" bulbs are 12 volts, and the blinkers are 8 volts (this was changed from "6 volts" by a paste-over label.)

The flashing bulbs seem to work in an unusual way, specifically meant for this type of operation:  instead of opening the filament circuit like a normal flashing bulb, the bimetallic strip in these miniatures SHORTS OUT the filament when it gets hot enough.  Now you can see the need for the "ballast" bulbs; if one were to populate a string entirely with these flashers, and if much more than half of them happened to switch "off" at any particular instant, there would be a serious problem!These are definitely not the usual miniature blinkers, which usually have a colored tip and make the entire series-string blink.

More recently, Mom bought 4 more identical-looking strings of candle-style miniature light strings BUT these newer strings do not have any of the flashing bulbs, just 20 common 6 volt clear bulbs.

Does anyone know where I can get more of the special independently-blinking bulbs, to make the newer strings light the same way the first one does?  I've already bought plenty of 12-volt bulbs in case I happen to find a source for the "specials".

Thanks to one and all for any help you can provide.


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Offline Chris W. Millinship

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Modern Candle String Bulbs
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2001, 08:52:00 am »
Lights like those, in their plain form, are very common over here in shopping centres although due to our higher voltage they are usually wired in sections of 40. Same bulb rating though- 12v 1.1 watt ballast, 8v (forget the rating right now) blinkers. There are a few sets made for home users too by Noma UK, including a candle set.

Any chance you could post a picture of some of those bulbs (or email it to me)? I can get the spares for the Noma sets but they may not fit yours- are the plastic bases larger than a cheap 100-bulb mini set, or about the same? Noma uses a colour coding system- the normal 12 volt lamps have a white cap and the blinker lamps have a pink cap, otherwise they are the same size. They are glued into the caps and you can`t remove them without destroying the cap.
Shopping-centre lights usually are just all-green, but have different shape caps to stop too many blinkers being used in a set. I don`t know where to get those though, sorry.




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Offline Alan Franzman

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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2001, 10:52:00 pm »
Thank you for the speedy reply, Chris!

Actually we've just begun our Christmas decorating here, and we probably won't have the candle lights out of storage until next weekend, so no images yet.

Anyway, I expect that the caps will all be different from one side of the pond to the other.  The light strings themselves have all the same caps on the bulbs, so if you put it on the tree and find a steady bulb where you really wanted a blinker, swapping bulbs around is no problem.  And since I want to use the blinkers in light sets which already have  bulbs in them (and the caps are not glued on over here), destroying the British bulb caps during removal will not cause any problem since I'll already have the requisite number of the proper caps available.

If you would be kind enough to send me 40 or 50 of the 8 volt blinkers, I'd be happy to compensate you for your effort.

Thank you very much!


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Offline Chris W. Millinship

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Modern Candle String Bulbs
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2001, 08:05:00 am »
If you would be kind enough to send me 40 or 50 of the 8 volt blinkers, I'd be happy to compensate you for your effort

Aahh....I didn`t realise you needed quite so many. They are sold in packs of four- two blinkers and two regular ones, and are very expensive. Everything is over here. I could probably track down a few, but nowhere near that many. Typical prices are ?1.50/pack or about US$2.25-ish.

Let me know what you want to do. I have a Paypal account, and also may be able to rack down some of these cheaper- the regular bulbs fit into normal indoor 20-bulb sets (quite a common number of bulbs to have) so I can use those round here as spares.



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Offline Alan Franzman

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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2001, 02:23:00 pm »
I see.  That's similar to the way miniature bulbs are sold here, typically 5 to a pack (nearly always with one of those 'flash the entire string' bulbs included).  Once in a while one can find whole strings of bulbs which sell for far less than the per-bulb pack price.

Anyway, I realize that what I've asked of you is quite beyond the ordinary favor, especially at this time of year.  If you happen to find the bulbs for a cheaper price and/or in a more convenient form of package, I can pay you using PayPal.  I think if you bought them in those mixed 4-packs you'd have several lifetimes' supply of steady-burning spares!

Don't go to any extraordinary lengths just to please me!

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Offline Chris W. Millinship

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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2001, 04:28:00 pm »
I just had a thought based on your observation that boxed sets often cost less than an equivalent number of spare lamps. I can buy a whole set of 40 of these lights- 20 steady and 20 blinkers- for about ?12-15, (?1= about $1.50). I`ll look into it- of course shipping a whole set would cost lots more than the bulbs especially if all you want is those blinkers, but I can always keep the empty string for spares.

I`m not sure but I think Noma themselves might also sell me the bulbs on their own for less than a boxeds set. I`ll get back to you later in the week.


BTW I`m putting up about 3600 lights outside this year, and a fair few hundred inside! I`d be willing to bet I`ll get through more than 20 spare bulbs  


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Offline Alan Franzman

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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2001, 06:58:00 pm »
Yes, by all means save us some on the shipping and just send the bulbs!

I had no idea you got so carried away with your electrical display, so I guess those few extra bulbs you'd end up with wouldn't be a burden to you after all.

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