Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When the Bulb Goes Out.

Light bulbs. Ah, what a treasure. Only noticed when they are not working, these tireless soldiers of the light do their duty to guide our path and protect us from the perils of eye strain. And like most soldiers, some will fail in their duty and die.

All lights should be working at the start of a tenancy. There is a couple of tricks for keeping these little soldiers going as long as possible.

First: Check the bulb isn't too hot for the holder. Often shades will have "Max 60w" or similar printed on them. Go over this wattage, and melt the shade. Expensive and dangerous, so don't do it. As a general rule, the smaller the fitting around the bulb, the cooler the bulb must be. (If you don't already know, generally, the more watts equals more heat being released. LED bulbs are cooler than compact fluorescent bulbs, which are cooler than incandescent, which are cooler than halogen).

Second: Make the light appropriate for the task. A 45 watt bulb will be fine over the toilet, but not in the middle of a large lounge. A chandelier will likely need lower wattage as the number of lights compensate for watts.

Third: Recessed fittings need special reflector bulbs. These are more expensive, but will last longer. They don't look glamorous at all when most of the bulbs are out.

Fourth: Halogen bulbs need special care. Do not touch them with your skin. The oil from your fingers will cause hot spots, and these special soldiers fall faster with heat. If you have a choice of halogen or regular bulbs in a light fitting, go with regular. Halogens are not great in rentals - the bulbs cost a lot and last no time at all, annoying your tenants.

Fifth: Pay for quality. I've seen 89c bulbs come apart, leaving the metal base in the light socket, and the glass bulb smashed to pieces on the floor. It's hazardous work to get the metal bit out of the socket, never mind the broken glass underfoot. Go with a reputable brand and save electrician's call outs.

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