GE Compact Fluorescent Bulb Failure

After replacing almost all of the incandescent bulbs in my apartment in 10/2006, all on almost 24/7 since, (as I rarely sleep more than 45 minutes at a time), I finally have my first failure at about 20K operating hours. For a total of about $45 for about 12 bulbs, I have probably avoided replacing 120 incandescent bulbs so far and saved 60% of the electricity required.

Regards, Don

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GE bulbs

My own experience saw the first batch of bulbs burn out after about a month. I tried another set and so far working great after . . . so many months I forget. That's good but . . .

There has been some negative buzz. The bulbs contain mercury, which is a deadly toxin. If you accidentally break one you are supposed to leave the area immediately and not return without a ventilator. This is especially true for pregnant women and children.

If I remember correctly, one drop of mercury can contaminate 10,000 gallons of water. Each bulb contains an amount equivalent to the head of pen. Multiply that though by hundreds of millions. You are not supposed to throw them away but recycle them, but there is no real recycling option available in most of the country. And even if one comes online, either through the actions of some entreprenuers or government intervention, are we going to have to set up actual recycling police to make sure people don't just throw them out? This will have to involve increased costs over and above the costs of the bulbs.

Once again we learn there is no panacea, only trade-offs.

I will not use compact fluorescent any more

Too much danger. I installed it one in a small table lamp. Dog antics knocked over the lamp, and the bulb broke while it was on, which is the worst time for it to break because the mercury is a gas. I immediately ventilated and closed off the room, and days later (i.e. when I had time) I went in and spent two hours or so cleaning up (and even then I didn't go to the lengths that were recommended).

I do not need that.

Also, about half of my lights have the dial light switch, which lets a continuously variable amount of power through the bulb, and CF bulbs are not made for those.

Re: I will not use compact fluorescent . . .


You may not have that choice for long. Australia has already banned incandescent bulbs and from what I gather we may be following their lead soon.

Black market bulbs. Bulb-runners? Don't laugh. Washington state banned certain detergents recently, I believe those used in dishwashers. You are only allowed to use organic dishwashing detergents. I've heard there is already a robust black market for regular dishwashing detergents.

my Last UL approved cfl bulb didn't last 20 minutes

I replaced it with an appliance bulb which I expect to outlast me.

By the way, the metallic mercury as found in a cfl is not very dangerous. It is the organic form that kills people these days.

45 minutes of sleep at a time?

What struck me most about the article is that you rarely sleep more than 45 minutes at a time. Is that by choice (you find yourself more productive and enjoy this schedule) or is it a case of insomnia?

Pearl, I was told by someone


I was told by someone on this blog that what I experience is multiphasic sleep, whatever that is. Neither productivity nor insomnia is involved. If I get bored with surfing the web, reading, watching TV, or watching a baseball, basketball or football game, I just lay down and one of two things happens. Either I think of something I want to do within 10 minutes or I fall asleep for half an hour or 45 mnutes. I'm rarely tired and this has been a pattern for decades, so there is no sleep deficit being accumulated. As a guess, I fall asleep 2 or 3 times per day.

Regards, Don

You're just a big baby!

Children are born with a multiphasic sleep pattern that does not develop into an adult-like monophasic sleep pattern for a number of years.

I read that ...

After Don explained about the disorder I looked it up, that it is something that newborns experience. I also checked out all kinds of articles and blogs from people who purposely attempt to change their schedules like this, attempting to squeeze a few more hours out of their day.

One of the more famous guys for it, Steve Pavlina, for 5 1/2 months he choose to sleep 20 minutes every 4 hours. He later went back to regular sleep patterns, but claims that the experiment helped him get to the (paraphrased) "good part of sleep" much quicker, and overall it seems to be affecting him in a positive way.

I thought it was all very interesting, although I'm not interested in squeezing in a few more hours of awake time a day.

wow that is amazing I see a Break through for all humans

Amazing you are proof to my theory please contact me 973 592 6658 or email me I believe Humans Acquired Sleep thru repititive habits and not for a nessacity or means of survival basicly We learned to sleep just to DREAM! Dreams are the true importanace of sleeping. When we all sleep our concious mind shuts down and allows the subconcious mind to fully take over the only time and only way to make this possible is by shutting off all Other bodily functions and putting us into a trance like state we Call SLEEP. Whats the importance of Dreams? Why did we Chose Night time? What benefits to society can this realization provide? I would love to explain in further detail here but no time check out


I finally have my first failure at about 20K operating hours. For a total of about $45 for about 12 bulbs

What did you do with the bulb that burned out?

burned out

Had a bulb go out yesterday. Funny how it happened just as we were discussing this subject. So now what do I do with the bulb? There is no recycle option where I live.

You must pack it carefully,,,

...and immediately drive it to the nearest recycling center, even if it's 1000 miles away. That's the law.

GE Helical 20W Bulb Failure

I was in the bedroom adjacent to the bathroom. I had left the light on in the bathroom; it had probably been on an hour or longer. In the bedroom I began to smell an odor like electrical wiring overheating. I started going thru the house to see where the smell was coming from, as soon as I left the bedroom I knew I was heading in the wrong direction. I returned to the bedroom. Was it the DVD player, the clock, the TV that I smelled? No. I entered the bathroom. It was coming form the GE Helical 20W bulb in the light fixture. I flipped the switch off and waited a few minutes before removing the bulb. When I removed the bulb I found that both places where the tube enters the base were blacken and smelled like burnt wiring. This is a new way of having a bulb burn out and pretty scary too! By the way it hasn’t been five years since the bulb was installed. Has anyone else had a similar experience? The Bulb I remove has “MADE IN CHINA” stamped on the base, maybe they used too much lead.

GE Helical 20W Bulb Failure

Just had the same problem with the same bulb in my bathroom; there was a red glow (small fire?) coming from the tube. I had the breathe in some of the smoke that emited from the bulb to turn off the light witch. I wonder what the fire and health risks are...?

I had the same bulb ( made

I had the same bulb ( made in China) burn out , with little use. Ecosmart makes a better bulb, and is rated higher by Consumer Reports.

Too much lead?

Too much lead?

This just happened to me with

This just happened to me with a GE Helical 20W bulb. Scary Also, made in china

GE Helical 20W failure

We had the exact same failure. My son turned on a bathroom light. It is switched, not on a dimmer. The bulb smoked and he smelled burning wires. He turned off the light and called me. Our light is blackened where the tubes enter the base as well.

This bulb is about 14 months old. It was put in after we remodeled the bathroom.

GE Helical 20W failure

I too have had terrible luck with the GE Helical. The light in my bathroom left a burn mark on the glass fixture cover, and who knows how much garbage we may have breathed in.
Maybe it has to do with the humidity in the bathroom.
Regardless, another of these bulbs just burnt out on me, and I'm a bit burnt out on the low quality of these bulbs that are supposed to last for years!
Has anyone bothered to get their money back from GE for the faulty bulbs?

I have had several 13 watt

I have had several 13 watt GE bulbs go out in the basement that "burned up" also had one today that I changed because after turning off it would not turn back on until it had cooled off.

I had the same problem with

I had the same problem with this bulb (burning out in the bathroom). I sent them an e-mail concerning this problem. Here is there e-mail address, and I hope anyone who reads this, contacts them.

GE Helical 20W failure

We just had the same scary situation happen last night!! My two children on second floor, adults on first floor, smoke detector goes off, (thankfully detector just two feet above hall light fixture)- it was the bulb that had orange glow which was small fire. The smell was horrible, but the idea of a lightbulb catching fire is my main concern here! The idea of saving energy at the risk of losing our home to possible fire?? No thanks, I'm pulling them all!! I intend to contact GE for explanation - try to let you know how far I get!

CFL fires

It is not only GE that had a fire case...

Search... CFL fires..... its more common than you think!

Mainly China sourced ones

GE helical 20w bulbs

I was hoping to find some other having the same problems with these bulbs. I have had two catch fire, and just luckily was home, and the bulbs were not around any other flammable items. The bulbs first flicker on and off, then you hear and arc or shorting out of the wiring, then the flame and smoke. Just luckily turned things off, and removed the bulb. After 3 of these doing this, I have removed all the bulbs.
I am still investigating the fire incident, and checking to see if any home losses have came from this situation in my State. Hope to see what anyone finds out from GE?
Fire Chief

GE helical 20w bulb

I own and operate a B&B and have the subject bulbs through out the home...I have decited that the removal of these bulbs are a must...This is after one of the bulbs shorted and a flame cause damaged to the lamp shade...Luckily, We were in the room when this occurred, otherwise, this would have been a major disaster...Does GE want these dangerous bulbs returned????

cfl failure and near fire

I also will no longer use CFL bulbs. The Environmental Protection Agency or some governmental consumer protection or energy information source has an obligtion to inform the public about the fire danger. Perhaps a media source? I started researchng this topic because last night a CFL burned and smoked as described in other comments on this site. I am a senior citizen. Luckily this occurred in the evening and the crackling sound and smell alerted me.

I also have had only a 4-6 month CFL bulb-life useage in a kitchen fixture which admittedly is frequently turned off and on. As I write this, the government is dealing with a fuel spill off the Louisiana coast which was not supposed to occur. Are these CFLs another problem in the making?

Another CFL potential fire

We too had one of these CFL bulbs burn out and start smoking just this week. It happened in the master bedroom. Thankfully, my wife was at home and noticed the smell right away. Sure enough, there was smoke coming from the CFL (it had just burned out) and the place where the tube enters the ballast is black. Even the ballast looks like it had smoke damage. The CFL was made by Lights of America. Googling complaints of CFLs mostly center on them burning out too soon, so I'm glad someone has put a board out there for potential fire hazards. We've had several of these CFLs do this over the years. Unfortunately, I can't tell who to contact except the state fire marshall.

CFL Burning- Potential Fire

We had a similar experience regarding a burning bulb. We smelled a strong odor of an electrical fire in our kitchen. After searching for 20 minutes we discovered it was our kitchen light fixture. Two of the five 20 watt bulbs had black and brown singe marks where the glass coil meets the bottom plastic (?) part of the bulb. We immediately removed the bulbs. I called GE to complain and after prodding the CSR she finally admitted that she has taken calls in the past about smoldering bulbs although she said that they will not catch fire and are made of self-extinguishing materials. Great to know, but if you have a lamp shade or something that is flammable in your light fixture the bulbs are a definite fire hazard. The CSR said that occasionally when the bulb is about to "die" but before it burns out completely there may still be electricity running through the bulb. This in turn can cause the bulb to smolder (her words exactly) until the bulb dies. This is very disturbing. Potentially any of your CFLs could smolder until they burn out. She said it doesn't happen all the time but does occasionally. Well, it only takes one occurance for someone's house to burn down! I've contacted our local news station and they're going to do an investigative report on this next week.
Very scary.
GE's solution- sending me a form letter and some coupons. No thanks!

GE 20w CFL burning odor & HOT to touch

This just happened to us so I started checking for other incidents. Our GE bulb was being used in a surface mounted ceiling fixture, with a glass globe over it. We were standing in the room with the overhead lights on and we smelled electrical burning. We traced it to the light bulb, which was then unscrewed; the base was too hot to touch. It did not reach a point of melting or fire because we were standing there when it happened. I don't know if the bulb was burned out when we turned the lights on and entered the room. Ironically 2 days after it happened I received an email going around about Globe brand CFLs (made in China) which have had flames shooting out of them (after being used properly. The homeowner was home and tragedy was averted. The email also contained this info: "I took the bulb to the Fire Department today 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."

My First Time Having CFL Burn Out

So glad this page is here!
Just a few minutes ago, our master bedroom CFL burned out while I was at the switch. I want to say it was as I was turning it off, but I was so surprised that I can't say for sure. As I was at the switch, I heard the sound of arcing,then the bulb flickered noisily before observably burning within. Immediately, the noxious smell poured out. When it seemed that it was done dying, I opened the window, then came to the computer to search for any dangers aside from the apparent fire danger with these bulbs. Didn't think to close off the room until I read it. (Duh.)
I am concerned about the effects of the fumes on the asthma condition I have. Also, I'm concerned about leaving the house and forgetting to turn off a light switch that may start a house fire.
When he gets home, my husband will test the fixture for electrical problems. But we've lived here for years and not had a problem with this light fixture, although when we moved in we discovered a few miswired outlets.
I'll check back here for more experiences that people write about this subject.

I think it doesn't worth the risk

I have replaced almost all the old bulbs in my house with CFBs since four years ago. About 6 out of 25 CFBs already burned with plastic burning smell. I think they are overheated all the time and the weakest ones are failing first.
I think saing a few bucks a month by risking my house and my family does not make any sense. I you have infants or pregnant women at home. You should really consider removing them.
I want to save the earth by comsuming less energy. Hopefully LED lighthing will become cheaper soon.

have had no problems

we replaced as many bulbs that we could (depending on type of light fixture) about 3-4 years ago. have only had to replace a because it is in the porch light which is turned on everynight and not turned off til morning, the other was in the bathroom which gets turned on and off frequently (read that shortens life span). only have one bulb that won't turn on sometimes without jiggling it so it could be the lamp itself. so....we have nothing but good to say about the CFBs. sorry not everyone has had the same luck as us. most of ours are the GE/made in china

CFL Just Went Out and Melted

I had a CFL in the hallway. The light had flickered a couple of times last week when I'd first turned it on but then it was okay. I figured it was possibly loose and I would get around to tightening the bulb but never did (had to go out of town). Early this evening I turned it on and it came on fine. Was on the phone with a relative for a while and noticed the hall light was off. Came to see the switch was on. Got the ladder out and undid the light cover and smelled that acrid, smokey, melted aroma and saw the bulb melted at the base. Went up to the attic to be check if there was any sign of a problem up above but all seemed okay. Put a regular bulb in the fixure, but it seems the fixture is now dead. So I will call a licensed electrician to check this out. So much for saving money by using a CFL....

Same problem

Replaced all my bulbs with ge Heical 13w FLE13HT3/3/SW and so far after 2 years of useing them had to replace fixture in bathroom, fixture in one of the bedrooms and a fixture in kitchen. then end of the bulbs was melted looking and the inside of the fixture where the connections where was burnt and 2 of them was fused together. Never will I use these bulbs again to save a few dollars at the risk of my family.

Do CFL's Really Save Energy

I have been using CFL's since they first came out but am about to change my ways. It takes energy to produce the CFL's, energy to get them to the shelf and more to move them to my home where they quickly burn out. They cost more than the standard incandescent but don't last half as long and many provide less than adequate lighting. I'm ready to try the LED's which should drop in price as volume increases. Thanks!
Modern Lighting

They Save Energy & Produce Great Light... but Are They Safe?

In my home, I use 8 of these CFL lamps in ceiling fixtures & the bathroom vanity. I still use the Edison incandescent in my reading lamp, & 3-Way table lamps. I also use some regular fluorescent tubes... Overall, I have been very happy with the quality of the CFL light and do not even miss the incandescents in the fixtures I placed them in though they will never be right for everything. I do NOT care that they cost more money initially and do not appear to last as long as claimed because I only buy them when on sale and they always last at least a year. Brands I have in use: FEIT & GreenLite - I was also given 2 Philips (still in boxes). Thus far I have had two FEIT 25W (100W equivalent) lamps die over 2.5 years, and they both popped, cracked, flashed/flickered, and smelled of an electric fire. Both times, I was alarmed that they may catch fire and/or release mercury. Both of the failing lamps were the FEIT BPESL25T(A).

I do not think they released any mercury in that it was most likely just an electronic smell from the ballast, but I still ventilated the room then cleaned the walls, floor, counters, moped, and even laundered everything in site - bathroom towels, rugs, etc. The ones that failed were purchased in 2004-2005 (installed in 2008). The newer FEIT and GreenLite bulbs I use were purchased in 2008 & 2009 respectively. There have not been any failure yet for these.

two bulbs in double fixture melt at same time!

I had two Maxlite bulbs fail at exactly the same time! I guess maybe one "spiked" the other and they both Melted and burned!! The glas tubes were hanging out at 45 degs. from the base of the lamps!

Surely we need further investigation into thesre bulbs??

Mine were Maxlite HCS23 23W home comfort series. (I guess it
would not be a comfortable home if it had gone up in flames!)

Fire Hazard

Why is there not some kind of lawsuit pending?

My son and his cousin were playing video games and came out to tell us that the light in the bedroom was on fire. I ran into the bedroom and although there was no fire, it was filling the room with smoke! I turned the light out and took the bulb out, and like others, it was blackened where the tubes into the casing.

Sylvania CFL Spark and fire

My wife just experienced the spark and fire (shock and awe????) of a failing CFL bulb. It was in the kitchen and she was able to turn power off to the fixture, but had she not been in the room, who knows what could have happened. Incandescents failed much more safely IMHO. . .

I hate these bulbs!

I was just sitting under a ceiling fixture and the light started flickering, then I heard a crackling sound. I thought maybe a moth got in but when I looked up, the bulb had just gone out and there was a small amount of smoke. The smell was VERY STRONG. I was worried there might be a fire in the attic or something. Luckily that didn't happen.

I'm ventilating the room right now and just found this site. I DO NOT want to deal with this every time a bulb goes out, which for me seems to be just as often as with regular bulbs. Maybe more! I hate these bulbs! I hated them even before I knew how dangerous they are.

The CFL burnout

I just experienced the CFL burnout. I've never experienced it before and did not enjoy it. Yes the bulb flickered first, which I thought was unusual, but It stopped and began burning properly. I left the room for a minute to get something then before returning the smell hit me. Scared me I thought the house was on fire. I immediatly turned off the switch. This is more scary for me since I am in a wheelchair. I can not remove the bulb. nor can I use the room until its replaced, cause I can't see in there. As far as disposing of them properly, I live in the backwoods of NC and trust me we don't recycle nothing around here, so I don't know what I am supposed to do with these things. But I can't wait for it to happen again (NOT)! If we are losing all "normal" type lightbulbs so we can be greener, they better make these things better first.

CFL experiences

I have been using CFLs for awhile. Usually getting the sale items at the local ACE hardware store. Seems that the bulbs that I get start getting dimmer after a while and as they get more hours on them, time to full brightness takes a bit of time. In some cases when the CLF fails, there are burns around the area where the CLF tube come out the the base.

Currently I spent extra and got some three way CFLs. So far I am satisfied the the performance. It has only been a couple of months.

Having to take the bulbs to a special disposal place seems to be a bit much. Special trip. And there is a local place to dispose of them. Just have to remember to take them.

And I am not convince of the longer life. And outside use, well slow startup to full brightness usually doesn't matter unless it is really cold.

thanks a lot..

It takes energy to produce the CFL's, energy to get them to the shelf and more to move them to my home where they quickly burn out.In some cases when the CLF fails, there are burns around the area where the CLF tube come out the the base. Currently I spent extra and got some three way CFLs. So far I am satisfied the the performance. It has only been a couple of months.

CFL Notice!

Just so everyone knows, all CFL's when they go out, they will make a pop or flicker and have a distinct burning odor to them. Yes, the base will look black. There is a great article on Snopes showing the details of this. I would not be concerned about any fire hazards. Although I don't care for the noise or the smell when they go out, they are supposedly made of flame retardant materials that will not burn. We've had great luck with CFL's here. We've used the Bright Effects CFL's from Lowes which personally I'm not too fond out. I think you have better luck with the Eco Smart bulbs from Home Depot.

smoking maxlite bulbs

I have had 2 maxlite 23w compact fluorescent bulbs arc and smoke in the last 16 months, they are in different circuits. Will they cause a fire if left on? Would not be much of a saving if that happened.