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Old January 20th, 2011 #1
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 5,414
Default CFL Light Bulb Fire Hazard

This is the first I've heard of this....just a heads up...

Fluorescent Bulb Catches Fire
Old January 21st, 2011 #2
Doesn't suffer fools well
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 5,740
Default Well, I've experienced it, first hand...

I've converted to these lampholders both nside and outside the house (under eves) because they are safer, provide better cooling and therefore longer lamp life, and give me options including plugging-in night lights, Christmas lights, an occasional power tool, what have you.

I left a CFL "on" in the hallway and, given that I have a wooden ceiling, I could have had worse than a lingering stink. When I awoke from one of my dogs nuzzing me like she does when she needs to go outside, the house was full of acrid, obviously electrical-euipment smoke and I had a little trouble tracking down the source. It was a particularly large, high-wattage unit with vent holes in the ballast area. It came with a wire device to allow it be used in place of a standard incandescent bulb in a table lamp, something I believe is called the harp-- that supports the lamp shade.

The 800-number manufacturer's receptionish said to send back the offending lamp that I soaked in a bucket of water and any others I wanted to return. She promised a "nice" HOME DEPOT gift certificate and she sent a UPS call tag to cover shipping and pickup. We'll see how they handle damage control; I'm going to publish the company name and details far and wide unless I hear back from them to my satisfaction. This was an American manufacturer and the lamps were a closeout item at LOWES several years ago.

It was explained, in this case, that it was due to "base-up" operation which the labeling supposedly warned-against. I have the packaging from the one that caught fire and there is no such warning on the label.

CFLs are on the way out being rapidly replaced by LEDs. Expect them to be at least an excuse for taxes, utility surcharges, what-have-you, ostensibly to clean-up mercury in landfulls because not everyone recycles them.

I use some CFLs because LEDs are pricy currently. And you still can't beat quartz halogen incandescent light for some applications, which I also continue to use with inexpensive dimmers. I especially like 10-Watt MR-11 relector lamps for reading.

However, I have quite a few LED night lights with photocells that I bought during a public utility promo. They are all I need for night vision video cameras, my dogs, and me to see much better.

Add both tritium and laser sights, standard security measures like fencing (I need an electric strand inside the chainlink because my dogs are determined) with a padlocked gate, etc., and you've got the foundation of a good program you can work if you'll study, train, and remain reasonably alert.

Don't forget that the word "public," as in public school, means "government."

The utility companies were taught by the Amory Lovins think tank that it is often less expensive to rebate to their customers the cost of converting to energy efficiency than to build additional generating capacity to accomodate increased demand. And the decreased profit can justify asking government regulators, such as public utility commissions, to allow rate increases by the government-enforced monopoly. Poor babies. But they get the rate increases which, like increased energy costs generally, are inflationary.

Live smarter rather than larger without sacrificing those things that really matter.

Last edited by -JC; January 21st, 2011 at 07:43 AM.
Old September 4th, 2013 #3
Anders Hoveland
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 86
Anders Hoveland

There's another thread on CFL fire dangers here:

Thread name: "Green energy-efficient" light bulb BURNS DOWN house!
in the How to Live White section of this forum

I absolutely hate those awful spiral CFL bulbs, for a variety of other reasons too, but this potential fire danger is just more icing on the cake.
Old September 4th, 2013 #4
The Bobster
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Filthydelphia
Posts: 10,095

Now let's look at the unintended consequences of solar panels. Should we discuss what happens when a battery-powered car gets into an accident?

Solar Panels Growing Hazard for Firefighters
Concerns over electrocution and a lack of roof access hampered firefighting efforts at Dietz & Watson blaze
By Vince Lattanzio | Monday, Sep 2, 2013 | Updated 4:44 PM EDT

Thousands of solar panels lining the roof of the Dietz & Watson Distribution Center in Delanco, N.J. as a massive fire burns inside the facility.

Firefighters battling the massive 11-alarm blaze at the Dietz & Watson distribution center in South Jersey faced an unlikely foe during the fight -- solar panels.

A solar array with more than 7,000 photovoltaic panels lined the roof of the nearly 300,000 square-foot refrigeration facility which served as a temporary storage center for the company’s deli meats and cheeses. But the panels, while environmentally sustainable and cost-saving, may have led to the complete destruction of the warehouse.

Fighting the fire under bright blue skies Sunday, Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt was forced to keep firefighters from attacking the blaze from the roof because of electrocution concerns.

"With all that power and energy up there, I can't jeopardize a guy’s life for that,” said Holt. Those electrocution fears combined with concerns of a collapse forced firefighters to simply spray the building with water and foam from afar.

Ken Willette from the National Fire Protection Association, a nonprofit that develops standards for firefighting, says electrocution is one of the hazards firefighters are increasingly facing fighting blazes at structures where solar panels are deployed.

“Those panels, as long as there’s any kind of light present, whether it’s daylight or it’s electronic lamp light, will generate electricity,” he said.

A 2011 study from the Underwriters Laboratory found solar panels, being individual energy producers, could not be easily de-energized from a single point like other electric sources. Researchers recommended throwing a tarp over the panels to block light, but only if crews could safely get to the area.

“Very often they’re not wired like your home, where you have a master breaker. Even if you turn the breaker off, the panels still generate electricity and you need to cover them and prevent any light from getting into them,” Willette said.

Flooding a roof with solar panels also presents access issues that can stop firefighters from making ventilation holes used to extinguish the fire.

Willette says the issues force firefighters to take a defensive approach to fighting the flames by staying away from the building – rather than going inside and attacking the fire source.

“It definitely impedes the firefighting operation and any time you impede firefighting operation, you slow down suppression efforts,” he said.

From 2010 through 2012, photovoltaic solar panel installations have jumped nearly 300-percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Forecasts show the trend will continue to increase sharply through 2017. The SEIA also says New Jersey has the second highest solar capacity in the United States.

With the continued growth of solar panels and other alternative energies, Willette says code officials, builders and developers need to work with local fire departments to ensure installations are designed with firefighting in mind.

“The new paradigm is firefighters might encounter building systems they have little or no knowledge of,” Willette said. “It used to be homes and commercial buildings had roofs and walls and heating and ventilation systems that the fire service was used to dealing with…modern technology, both in building construction and these other alternative energy systems, have changed that.”
Old September 6th, 2013 #5
Anders Hoveland
Junior Member
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 86
Anders Hoveland

I cannot find it now, but I read somewhere that the electronics inside the base of a typical CFL can heat up to around 132°F when the bulb is left on. Electronic components are not designed to operate under that much heat. It's no surprise then that various chemical resins inside the ballast can bake out over time and release potentially harmful vapors.

Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin’s Alab Laboratory, said: “For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment.”

The bulbs are already widely used in the UK following EU direction to phase out traditional incandescent lighting by the end of this year.

But the German scientists claimed that several carcinogenic chemicals and toxins were released when the environmentally-friendly compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were switched on, including phenol, naphthalene and styrene.

“Andreas Kirchner, of the Federation of German Engineers, said: “Electrical smog develops around these lamps. I, therefore, use them only very economically. They should not be used in unventilated areas and definitely not in the proximity of the head.

Some more videos:

The long spiral tube of a CFL is much more fragile than the bulb shape of a regular light bulb. If there is a tiny break in the tube, and the CFL accidentally gets turned on, the whole thing will burst into flames. Check this out:



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