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Question DetailsAsked on 2/15/2016

We are experiencing an electrical problem in our three (3) year old residence.

Specifically, the kitchen ceiling has five (5) recessed can lights each holding a 65W flood light. They are in-line and can be operated by either of two (2), three-way, wall switches. One of the cans, depending on the duration of time the lights are on, stops operating and the bulb is no longer lighted. Changing out with several new bulbs has not cured the problem and the bulbs do not burn out. Note: the cans are not nailed to a stud but rather are the suspended type. We considered changing the two (2), three-way switches since they have had significant usage. We have also considered changing the affected recessed can. Your diagnosis please

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3 Answers


I would check the type and wattage recommended for your fixture. The heat may be excessive. Some fixtures have a temperature sensor in the fixture that will turn the light off if the temperature exceeds the limit. I have seen these safeties loosen and fall near the bulb itself and trip out.

You could use low wattage mini flourescent bulbs for less heat and better efficiency. Otherwise an electrician should be contacted but see if your home warranty covers this problem first.

Source: Poppy Ross

Answered 4 years ago by PoppyRoss


As PoppyRoss said - thermal protection fuse (which reset themselves when they cool off) is most likely cause and as he said they do sometimes get into a position closer to the bulb, though it is also possible that there is a bad wiring connection which is making and breaking as it heats up, or that the contact prong in the outlet is not making good contact.

Also - these may be fixtures designed for ventilation but were insulated over them, and only that one is heating up enough to trip the thermal breaker.

Also, these thermal breakers can get more sensitive with time - so they trip out more and more frequently.

Another possibility which could be tripping a thermal breaker - see if there is a sticker (usually up inside can) on bulb rating AND size - could be you are using too high wattage bulb (unlikely at 65W), but in recessed cans you have to use R type (reflector) bulbs, not normal floor or spot bulbs. Also, your fixture may be designed for a smaller bulb than you are using - mamy types need a good airspace around the bulb (especially with incandescent as opposed to LED or CFL) bulbs - use too large a diameter bulb and you block off the air circulation it needs. On the R bulbs the number following the R is the bulb diameter in millimeters - so you can have the same wattage rated bulbs in different diameters, and sometimes a larger size will fit, though maybe snugly, in a fixture that is actually too small for it.

Unfortunately, because you do not know what the cause is, I would pull the fixture if at all feasible and check out the wiring and any thermal breaker - because you do not know at this point if it is a safety threat or not if you go with CFL/LED or smaller bulb even if that solves the problem.

BTW - as PoppyRoss said, there are LED and CFL bulbs that will turn out the same amount of light at much lower wattage (and heat) - also available in spot and flood configurations and various brightness or color saturation - degrees Kelvin equivalent.

Electrical is obviously your Search the List category for a contractor to look at this.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


Answered 4 years ago by Kestrel Electric

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