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Can someone tell me if it is normal…


… for a CFL to burn out this way… major smoke… major acrid smell.

Note the blackened tube and base.

Just askin’…


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  1. In a word, yes.

    scary eh?

  2. sassy says:

    Have no answers but that is just a little scary.

  3. gordon says:

    I know more than one person who has had a CFL fail like that. And I’ve talked to a couple of people who had them actually burst into flames. And they weren’t always inverted or in a sealed fixture.

    If it’s true that UL says that when they fail it’s normal for the base to blacken and smoke then I’m surprised because that’s suggestive of a massive amount of heat, which can’t be a safe situation.

    I’d be happy to see then things banished off the face of the Earth because they give people a false sense of being green because they’re effectively hazardous waste. Many people don’t dispose of them properly resulting in mercury and other things going into landfills instead of being safely recovered. Go with LED technology — you can get bulbs now that will last for 15 years, have nice warm light and aren’t a disposal problem when they die.

    Oh, and whatever you do, don’t break a CFL and then vacuum up the pieces. You’ll cause the mercury to become airborne, which is Bad.

  4. Neeroc says:

    It’s ‘normal’ according to this site:

    “It’s true that when a CFL bulb burns out it may emit a bit of smoke and its plastic base may become blackened, as seen in the photo above. According to the safety testing company Underwriters Laboratory, this is normal and not dangerous.”

    Interesting though that they claim they shouldn’t be hung inverted or in track lighting. I wonder how many people know that?

    1. trashee says:

      Never heard about avoiding hanging these things upside down!

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