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Bulbs Blowing: Dirty Power?


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#1 John Green

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:50 PM

Hi, new to this forum so sorry if this is a common problem/issue (had a look through older threads and didn't see anything).

Recently bought some used Pulsar 650W Quartz lights and was testing them today at home.

It's the second time I'd used them at home and previously they were fine.

However today the bulbs blew on two lights after only being on for about 1-3 minutes (when one blew I plugged in the other and that blew too).

I tried a third light in a different socket and that was fine (left it on for 30 minutes or so).

Had problems with this socket before (PC wouldn't work properly, even after reformatting and reinstalling twice, switched sockets and it was fine, never resolved what the problem was).

Could this be a 'dirty power' or surge problem?

If so is this something to be worried about and what can be done to avoid it? (I know generators can be problematic for some devices but I'm talking about standard power outlets/domestic supplies).

Any advice appreciated, thanks in advance.
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#2 timHealy

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 09:29 PM

When dealing with power problems, use a volt meter and measure the voltage.

Lights can work on "dirty power". Electronics, may have problems.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 11:36 PM

If you touched the bulbs; the oils on your hands can cause them to blow.
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#4 John Green

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 07:15 AM

Thanks to both of you for replies.

Tim: Do you always test an electricity supply or circuit you've not used before? Also is it worth making general use of a surge protector?

Adrian: Thanks, didn't touch the bulbs in this instance.
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

Thanks to both of you for replies.

Tim: Do you always test an electricity supply or circuit you've not used before? Also is it worth making general use of a surge protector?


No if say you are shooting at a location that seems to be well taken care of like a house or office building and you are plugging in a kino. Things can be sketchy in an older building that looks like no one has fixed things in years.

Metering voltage at your stage boxes is always a good idea at the beginning of the day if the crew has just set up a cable run. Before the sound or camera departments start plugging things in without asking if it is safe yet.

I was on a pier last year where a friend was gaffing told me about a fuse box that was 120/208 vac. that the house guy said it was safe to use. I opened the panel to do a tie in and the cables were labeled yellow, orange, and brown. Uh oh. I took my meter out and read the voltage and it was 277/480. When I called and told him, he wouldn't believe me until I sent a text with a photo of my meter reading 480.

If you want to be safe, read voltage all the time. But you start to know what is good and what might be sketchy with experience. Meter whatever may be sketchy just to be safe.

Surge protectors are not really used on film sets for lighting. Video Monitors, Sound carts, dimmer board consoles, AC power supplies for cameras may want to use surge protectors just to be safe. Dimmer console boards, sound carts and DIT carts may want to use UPS battery backups too.
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#6 John Green

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:47 AM

Thanks a lot Tim, really useful info.

Think I'll look into getting a volt meter. Will be interested to know if one of the circuits in my house is fluctuating, could be a coincidence that various things have blown or broken when using certain sockets, will check it out.

Good thing is it's forced me to buy spare bulbs for my 650W lights which can only be a good thing, better to have lights blow at home during testing than on location.
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#7 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 07:17 PM

It could be a high resistance join somewhere in your house, whether its a loose lug at the switchboard, or on the back of a socket plate.
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