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New front light burns out fast!!!

I was wondering since my house has old aluminum wiring and the new light has copper wiring if i need some type of adapter between the two. Ever since we replaced the front light the bulb will only last two weeks tops sometimes only a day or two.


Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

You don't need an adapter to go from aluminum to copper wiring. There are couple different problems that could cause the bulbs to fail quickly. First is that the mount is not secure causing it to shake or vibrate when someone runs down the stairs, slams the door, etc. If you can't secure the fixture, you can get a rough service bulb that is designed for vibration.

Next is that water is getting onto the light bulb from some source, not sure where the fixture is, but if its outside that could be the cause.

Its also possible that the bulb is overheating, are you using the correct wattage bulb in the fixture?

Lastly the fixture might be getting to much voltage. You can easily check this with a multimeter, and if it is getting > 120 volts that could the bulb s to break quickly. If its only around 130 volts you can get a high voltage bulb to use, but if its higher than that something is wrong, and you should check the wiring, or call your power company.

A. Spruce
Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

In addition to the previous posts suggestions, here's a few things from my experience that will cause what you describe and the solutions used to rectify the situation. Some may or may not apply to your situation.

  1. Dirty light fixtures - spiders, bugs, dirt and corrosion build up on the bulb base and socket - Clean fixture, socket and bulb base.
  2. Cheap light fixture - the cheaper the fixture, the more prone to burning out bulbs, I don't know why, but they do. Use better quality, preferably name brand fixtures.
  3. Cheap replacement bulbs. Again, quality is key here. Cheap bulbs do not last as long as name brand, aren't as efficient. Abco is the worst brand I've experienced.
  4. Loose wiring connections, either at the fixture or upstream from the fixture. When the bundle of wire were pulled from the box to do the fixture installation, other connections within the box may have been loosened. The fixture connections may have slipped while installing the wire nut, again causing a poor/loose connection.

Finally, always use extreme caution when working with electricity. Turn off the power at the breaker, don't rely on the light switch and assume the power is off, and use a "sniffer" or some other form of tester to determine that the wires you'll be working with or near are indeed de-energized.
Be safe and report back your findings. :)

Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

mongorick .... you say the house wiring is aluminum and the light fixture has copper wiring.

There can be an issue sometimes known as "creep" ... where the connection between the copper and aluminum wires in the wire nut will become loose.

This is because of the two dis-similar metals heating and cooling at different rates.
it may also cause arcing at the connections which may be spiking the filaments of the bulbs .... knocking them out.

There are purple colored wire nuts specially used for copper-aluminum wires that also contain an antioxidant gel.

On a side note .... this also raises the issue of using the appropriate switches and receptacles for aluminum wiring ... they should be CO/ALR rated.

Just a thought.:)

Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

Could it be due to high lead content of the Chinese made filaments in the Chinese made bulbs? They seem to need to get rid of a lot of lead.:D

Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

You have to be careful who gives you your advice because the first answer was totally wrong. Aluminum and copper connections is something you have to take seriously. You have an aluminum and copper connection which are dissimilar metals.
First of all anytime you have dissimilar metals contacting each other you will get over time condition called electrolysis. Over time this electrolysis causes a build up of corrosion. This will cause a loose connection that can cause more resistance to the connections. This can cause the connection to draw more current. More current causes more heat. Aluminum and copper expand and contract at different rates when heated. Over time this can loosen your connections and cause a fire. Sometimes you are lucky and have warnings before there is a fire like dimming lights and blinking lights. As stated above there are wire nuts that are made for these connections and by code must be used.

I believe the problem you have described is not directly rated to the connections I described above. But is something that needs to be addressed when the fixture is removed to make the repairs I am suggesting. I have been called many times by homeowners for the same problem. Before anything turn the power off at the breaker or fuse. Then remove the light fixture. I assume the box is either mounted in siding or on the surface. Make sure the box is screwed to the plywood as it might be loose and floating. I have said this is because when the front door is closed it shakes the fixture and light bulb. This will break the element with in the bulb. If the box is floating in side the wall re-attach it or use a siding block for light fixtures (ask Home Depot or Lowes etc) and screw that to the surface behind the siding. The re-hang the light fixture using the correct wire nuts approved for AL CU connections as Canuk described. Then I would replace the bulb with a new more efficient florescent lamp. If the bulb in the fixtures shows through the glass then use a hard use bulb. Then as suggested above have all of your receptacles and switches changed to new ones that are designed to be used with Aluminum wiring. Then have all you connections checked in the panel and at your appliances to see if they are tight. The electrical contractor should use a paste that will help prevent further corrosion on those connections. The paste I Have used is Penetrox but other name brands are available. Good luck and let us know how you made out

Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

My answer was not "totally wrong" You do not need any sort of adapter to go from aluminum to copper, you do of course need to make the proper connection, but that is not an adapter. A proper connection is always required between two conductors regardless of type. Even if the proper AL/CU wire nuts weren't used, it is highly unlikely that that is the cause of the problem.

Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

My apologies Jaguar36 your right he does not need an adapter to connect copper to Aluminum. He needs a proper connector as Canuk mention as out lined in the NEC artical 110.14 But Mongorick not being a electrician an adapter and a connector might be considered the same thing.

Re: New front light burns out fast!!!

I get this question ALL the time. Not so much the al-cu connection, but the premature bulb burnout. The front door sounds like a dead giveaway. Its probably a weak filament in the light bulb that gets shaken when the door is opened and closed. Along with the previous postings' suggestions, I've had a great deal of luck using incandescent bulbs that are rated for ceiling fans. They have a stronger filament and seem to last a lot longer in high vibration situations.

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