What is wrong with my lightbulbs?

I have been noticing for quite a while that light bulbs in my apartment are burning out frequently, and I am now wondering if there is a larger problem. For example, the hood over my kitchen stove uses four small G4 halogen bulbs (2.2w=20w), and I am having to replace one of them every couple of weeks. That would imply an average lifespan for each bulb of about 8 weeks. With normal use of several hours a day, this would mean an average lifespan of about 100 hours of use. As I was replacing two bulbs last night (yes, two of them burned out the same day) I noticed that the package said the bulbs were rated for 2000 hours of use. That is a huge difference.

This is just an example, but I noticed that other bulbs in my apartment burn out frequently as well. And the bulbs in the building common areas seem to be burning out fairly frequently too. Is it possible there is an electrical problem in the building that is causing this? Fluctuation of current perhaps?

Does your apartment vibrate a lot? When I lived along train tracks, I noticed our light bulbs (incandescent back then) burned out frequently. I blamed vibration. Indeed, our garage door opener lights are specifically designed to handle vibration.

If you touch halogen bulbs with your fingers, they won’t last very long (such as when you’re installing them).

For the other bulbs, try switching some to fluorescent, if they’re not already, and this will eliminate vibration as a variable. See how well it goes with them.

Of course, you could have some surging, so their are testing options, electricians, calls to the power company.


I hear ya. Hood environment is harsh (high temperature and vibration from the exhaust fan makes for short bulb life.

My solution? LEDs, baby!. I put some like those in two years ago and haven’t had a problem, yet. (I bought them off eBay, that site is just the first one I could find for reference).

that’s if you’re able to touch the bare capsule; the gunk from your fingers can cause hot or cold spots on the glass which- since it contains a pressurized gas- can cause the capsule to burst. this is mostly a concern with car headlamps. Most (AFAIK) halogens for home use have an outer glass envelope which prevents you from touching the capsule.

If other apartments in your building have this same problem then it could be a utility problem.
Is it more noticeable in the winter?
Electric utilities use capacitor banks or voltage boosting transformers on the distribution lines to keep the line voltage high during heavy air conditioning loading. If any of those devices are left on in the winter you can experience high voltage levels at the customer end.
In the USA a light bulb with a 2000 hour expected life span gets that rating based on 120-125 Volts AC. If the voltage is 135-150 that life span is much shorter.

This happens in my apartment, too. The lights burn out in every room. I bought some LED bulbs and they don’t seem to burn out. Sometimes I just leave the lamps dark and walk around with a flashlight.

This being General Questions, and all…

The G4 base standard used for halogen bulbs is a two bare wire (0.7mm dia wires 4.0 mm apart) mount designed for low voltage DC (6-12V). I know of no fluorescent bulb that comes with a G4 base; halogen and LED are they only types I’ve ever seen. Being low voltage DC, AC line voltage is stepped down with a transformer, rectified, and regulated to the lower voltage, so fluorescent bulbs are out, and AC line voltage fluctuation is not going to affect bulb life. Vibrations will, however, shorten the life of the bulb. The last G4 Halogen bulb I bought had a warning not to touch the glass bulb with your fingers, or to wipe the bulb with an alcohol dampened cloth afterward, as oil from your fingers could shorten bulb life.

We have a lighting fixture in the bathroom that takes four bulbs. Several months ago I put four of those newfangled coil-shaped mercury bulbs in it. One burned out. Another burned out…well, to make a long story short, I sensed that there was a voltage problem or something, and now the fixture has four incandescent bulbs in it again. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If there is a problem with the house wiring, e.g., neutral isn’t well grounded near the meter and such, the voltage can fluctuate a lot when heavy loads turn on and off (furnace, fridge, etc.). This can be seen with the lights flickering a bit. This is stressful on incandescents and they burn out early.

Also, poor contacts between the bulb and the socket. A socket over a range will definitely get dirty and possibly corroded. Cleaning requires a good contact cleaner like DeOxit with the circuit breaker off (of course).

The replacement incandescents for my oven explicitly say to handle them with cloth gloves, not your fingers – even when they’re cold.

Life Hack:

Nowadays, latex/nitrile ‘exam gloves’ are available at just about every drug and ‘home improvement’ store.
Buy a couple of boxes and keep them handy.

So you blamed it on that place’s “vibes”? Typical hippie!

thanks for the advice folks.

I would be willing to try out G4 LED bulb, but I am not sure whether it would fit the space that is currently there. I’ll have to check it out.

As for the oily fingers theory, I checked the packaging of my halogen bulbs and got the same warning, not to touch the glass directly. But my bulbs are simply burned out, they did not explode. Is the oily fingers thing just about exploding bulbs or can it affect them in other ways?