We all know the age-old cliché in scary movies where the flashlight burns out right when it's needed most. You know, when the killer-clown laughs from around the bend, and we hear heavy footsteps getting closer to our beloved flashlight-wielding hero, and...
...The light goes out.
Now, in the heat of the moment, it could seem like a multitude of possibilities as to why the light burnt out. However, it can really be broken down into a few simple likely scenarios.
Speaking of "the heat of the moment"...
Light bulbs overheat all the time; even when the correct voltages/wattages have been selected.
Most times, a bulb overheats in the fixture due to some sort of inappropriate application. For example: It is possible that the bulb is being used in an enclosed fixture, despite the many warnings about how not to use the bulb in enclosed settings. This can cause a heat overload...
Thankfully, this problem can be spotted and fixed before the utter desolation of either the bulb or fixture.
If a burning odor is ever noticed, track down where it's coming from. If the odor's source is as well the light source, turn off the light immediately, as this could not only prove to be inefficient, but dangerous as well. Wait until the bulb has cooled off to a more tolerable temperature and remove it, then examine the bulb and fixture for any clear signs of burning or inappropriate contact. If nothing out-of-the-norm can be spotted, and you can guarantee the bulb is in no way violating its recommended uses, your fixture probably needs replacing.
Whether this is due to a preexisting problem such as a dysfunctional fixture or depressed socket, or has to do with a mistake made by the installer, a common cause of a light bulb's tendency to die early is disruptive contact or incorrect installation.
Dysfunctional fixtures come in many shapes and sizes. We even sell them here! ;)
A fixture's inability to perform correctly often has much to do with improper handling or installation. This can absolutely cause internal malfunction within a fixture, resulting in your light bulbs burning out faster. For example: if the socket is dented/depressed, this will result in incorrect contact between it and the bulb.
This is the same with loose installation of a bulb, as this can cause unstable energy flow, resulting in chaotic damage around the fixture-to-bulb contact area.
Sometimes, the problem is as simple as two jigsaw pieces not fitting together right.
Everybody loves those crazy 30,000-piece puzzles, and everyone agrees the best part about putting them together is the one large section that's all one color. Sometimes, you're so utterly desperate to finish it that you manage to cram one of the 12,000 pieces left into a spot exactly where it's not supposed to go... (We've all done that!)
This same thing can happen with light bulbs. Maybe you've got a fixture in need of a 60-watt bulb, and all you've got on hand are a bunch of 75 watts you've had sitting in your garage. Now, you really don't want to make the 25-minute drive out to the nearest store, (and who buys light bulbs online?) So, what do you do?
You slam one of those 75-watt bulbs into the 60-watt fixture, and, voila! It lights.
But, that bulb will burn out fast, and there's a high fire risk. Some CFLs will even explode under such circumstances. Now, that's an extreme worst-case-scenario, and realistically, you'd probably survive.
But using a bulb that surpasses a fixture's recommended limit would be serving as a fire hazard, as it uses more energy and let's off more heat...
Similar to driving a car faster and more frequently. Sure, you'll get more out of it in the present, (and that bulb will be just a bit brighter), but it won't last you nearly as long!
Sooner or later, every bulb burns out. Some last more than others, but ultimately, they're all doomed. Hopefully now you've learned some essential ways to get the most out of your light bulbs, and found out a way to keep that flashlight on when you need it most!