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The shrinking arctubes of Caster 100w mercury lamps over 15 years

The shrinking arctubes of Caster 100w mercury lamps over 15 years

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Now that I have one from each era, I thought it would be interesting to see the production changes of these cheap unreliable chinese mercury lamps over time, note they are all 100w! (H38)
**The uppermost lamp (largest arctube) was the size in production the longest, the lamp pictured was manufactured in 2003, the arctube is about the size of current-day 175w lamps. This lamp has the lowest luminous output of the three, and produces a much greener color than the other two. This is also the lamp that commonly suffered from arctube contamination, in which every so often you'd get a lamp that burns a noticeably different hue. I have another one that burns a bright pink color, similar to a EOL metal halide. This issue of the arctube containing more than just mercury ive only seen in the upper lamp pictured. Caster switched to the center lamp around 2008-ish.

**The center lamp has an arctube only slightly smaller than other 100w lamps from quality brands like Osram. Just like all three pictured, this lamp suffers from the same unreliability and short life due to poor manufacturing, the pinch seals develop hairline cracks and the lamp just stops working anywhere from several hundred to about 8000 hours. This lamp does produce the typical clear MV color and intensity, maybe ever so slightly whiter when I compare it running side by side to a clear EYE Iwasaki.

**The lamp at the bottom of the picture is Caster's current-day production 100w MV, and as you can see, now has an arctube less than one third the size of the lamp pictured on top. This lamp's arctube is actually SMALLER than that of a 50w Westinghouse MV lamp I have. On its rated 100w gear this lamp burns WHITE compared to the other two, imagine a 6000K daylight color but just slightly greener. I cant comment of the life of these, as I just picked a few of these up. Boxes stamped Mar. 2017.

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BlueHalide
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Jan 24, 2018 at 11:30 PM Author: BlueHalide
Also forgot to mention, the bottom lamp (small arc tube) has its starting probe electrode and adjacent main electrode touching each other, and cannot be started without PSMH gear. You can actually see this if you look closely. The others of this lamp I have dont have this problem.
dor123
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Jan 25, 2018 at 05:32 AM Author: dor123
I've never seen MV lamps that had their spectrum contains additional lines of elements from contamination. All MV lamps I've seen, always only had the mercury lines + /DX phosphors red and orange lines (They were /DX MV lamps).

I"m don't speak English well, and rely on online translating to write in this site.
Please forgive me if my choice of my words looks like offensive, while that isn't my intention.

I only working with the European date format (dd.mm.yyyy).

I lives in Israel, which is a 230-240V, 50hz country.

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Jan 25, 2018 at 06:21 AM Author: rjluna2
Something tells me that these bulbs have crappy production here

Pretty, please no more Chinese failure.

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Jan 25, 2018 at 07:28 AM Author: FGS
Whatever factory produced these for Caster doesn't know ANYTHING about producing MV lamps. Gives the "made in China" a bad rap.

Why I like LEDs on top of other lighting tech?
LEDs = Upgrade 95% of the applications. (That is if you avoid eBay's LEDs).


LED brainwash? No, people uses them cuz they work well for them.

BlueHalide
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Jan 25, 2018 at 09:53 PM Author: BlueHalide
So I put together a setup tonight of three lampholders side by side to compare these lamps running right next to each other, each connected to a 100w mercury ballast of the same brand. the color and intensity difference between these three lamps is very noticeable, more than I had thought. the uppermost lamp with the large arctube definitely produces much less light than the other two, and takes 3x longer to warm up. The bottom lamp with the smallest arctube is so white it could almost pass as a near-EOL daylight metal halide.
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Jan 28, 2018 at 03:26 PM Author: arcblue
I've had several of the older ones, some that I bought and others that came with fixtures. None have lasted more than a few thousand hours. They cycled, leaked or flickered or just died for no apparent reason. They also blacken at the ends early on. I'd like to get one of the "new" ones with the tiny arc tube though to try it on my 50w ballast....they might work better and 50w clear lamps are very hard to find.

I'm lampin...

BlueHalide
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Jan 28, 2018 at 10:15 PM Author: BlueHalide
Heres the Ebay listing I purchased those newest tiny-arctube lamps from, the pic in the listing actually shows the slightly older lamp that is pictured in the middle above, so I cannot guarantee what you'll actually get, I ordered two, and both that arrived were the newer 2017 ones with that tiny arctube.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/100W-120V-Mercury-Vapor-Light-Bulb-Lamp-Medium-Base/152244193723?epid=1185404432&hash=item23727609bb:m:mrMz-N3KQ5_ksJ6Hkhksu5w

I agree with the original lamp (largest arctube) blackening very quickly, not only did those have that contamination issue I mentioned above, but the arctube is significantly larger than any other brand 100w mercury lamp ive seen, perhaps the blackening is partially due to the tube not getting up to the optimal temperature at 100w power. But then again, all three generations of these lamps are horrible quality, ive also seen the lamps (pictured in middle) with the almost normal sized arctube also blacken very early in life and not last 3000 hours.
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Jan 28, 2018 at 10:20 PM Author: Lumex120
The newest one actually seems like it would be perfect for a 50w MV ballast.

Any machine is a smoke machine if you operate it wrong enough.

BlueHalide
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Jan 28, 2018 at 11:11 PM Author: BlueHalide
Ive got a 50w metal halide ballast around somewhere, ill find it and give it a test
Lightingguy1994
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Jan 29, 2018 at 01:32 AM Author: Lightingguy1994
Wow i never knew caster cheaped out so hard core on quality. Like I've ebeen told they suck but wow. I have a caster yard blaster but its stock lamp seems normal sized.

I wouid definitely be interested to see of the smaller arctube one you got is actually a 40/50w bulb
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Jan 29, 2018 at 06:28 PM Author: BlueHalide
I found that Advance 50w MH ballast, and ran that lamp up on it, and ide say this lamp is probably much better suited at that power, at half power it is now the typical clear MV color.
However, something is not quite right, during the hour I ran the lamp it had a rather noticeable 60hz flicker, and the MH ballast does NOT like this lamp, it buzzes louder and got warm much faster than it would running its rated MH lamp. I also just tried that 50w Westinghouse MV lamp I have just to be sure it was the Caster lamp and not the ballast.

So, just be cautious, even though the Caster lamp has an arctube the size of a 40/50w lamp, there is clearly some arc voltage incompatibilities going on here, these "100w" Caster lamps may or may not burn up your 50w ballasts
Globe Collector
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Jun 20, 2019 at 05:55 PM Author: Globe Collector
Does anybody here know where these ACTUALLY come from?

And I don't mean the vague answer of the WHOLE 3.7 million square miles of the whole of China...something a little more precise and targeted like the much more modest and searchable 952 square miles of Dong Guan for example.

Has anyone been able to "tunnel through" the marketing and branding crap and get back to who is actually responsible for these?

Seems the top two come from one location...by the style of starting resistor used and the form of the frame loop around the dimple at the crown, whereas the bottom one comes from somewhere different as both the resistor and dimple mount are quite different.

In the bottom lamp, both the resistor and mount are reminiscent of '70's G.E. HID, whereas the resistors in the top two are reminicent of Iwasaki HID....possibly this fabricators of these are making them up from stockpiles of parts discarded by other lampmakers as they have moved on to semiconductor. In this sense, they could be "back alley" concerns and thus very arduous to locate precisely.

Manufactured articles should be made to be used, not made to be sold!

Fee, Fye, Fow, Fum, A dead man's eye and a parrot's BUM!

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Sep 11, 2019 at 02:14 AM Author: Bottled lightning
Could you measure the actual lamp voltage and current?
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Sep 11, 2019 at 04:27 AM Author: Globe Collector
If the small arc tubed one has an arc tube smaller than a 50 watter and it runs whiter....would be interesting to see of the spectral lines ar broadened....but definitely sounds overloaded....in that case the arc current will be greater than it should be and the atc drop less than it should be.

Manufactured articles should be made to be used, not made to be sold!

Fee, Fye, Fow, Fum, A dead man's eye and a parrot's BUM!

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Sep 11, 2019 at 05:12 PM Author: BlueHalide
Globe Collector, would be interesting to know who makes these poor quality lamps, but they are probably not made in a back alley with surplus parts from other mfg's ...even though that would be logical. These Caster lamps were (and still are to some extent) mass produced for the consumer big box hardware retailers and could be found at every location of Home Depot, Lowes, and other chains selling Lithonia HID products up until just recently. Even Walmart sold these for several years. There had to have been hundreds of thousands, if not millions of these lamps made. I first started noticing these in the late 90's or early 2000's. Caster also made E39 175w lamps that notoriously used a 125w arctube, and blackened very quickly just the the 100w counterparts above.

Also, im glad you pointed out the physical difference between the earlier top two lamps compared with the bottom (current production) lamp, since the bottom lamp appears to be the only one of the three available today, its likely the factory responsible for the top two lamps was closed, and they simply rebadged the bottom lamp, which as you noticed was likely from a different supplier.
Globe Collector
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Sep 11, 2019 at 05:53 PM Author: Globe Collector
About three decades ago our (then) electricity authority, the Hydro Electric Commossion, did a trial of 50w mercury lamps in one street in the suburb of Howrah....rather ironically a lot of Hydro Electric Commossion employees lived in that street, so I suppose that is why it is chosen.
The 50 watters...Philips HPL-N 50's were "mainstream" manufactured by Philips in their Turnhout plant in Belgium, the same place the vast bulk of all our other Philips branded HID then came.
Anyway, even on the correct gear their arc tubes blacked rapidly and their luminous fluxes fell very rapidly, so rapidly the were removed after just six months...I figure it was some sort of surface-area-to-volume thing where the tiny arc tube had so much surface area to loose heat through that it had to be overdriven to get the vapor pressure up to the same level it would be in higher power rated lamps. And these were very reputable lamps.
After they were removed, they trialled SOX 18 low pressure sodiums in the same street, Jungira Street, for a similar short while and then settled on the 80w high pressure mercury, which they eventually ran out all over the state. The 80 watters...a mixture of Philips HPL-N 60's from Turnhout and Osram HQL 80's from Spandau blackened about six times slower than the aforementioned HOL-N 50's...so they became the standard for the next 25 years. But that was Public Sector.

Here...these Castner things...(which we have no equivalent of because here in Australia domestic HID never became "a thing", we had the two PAR-38's [pointing in different directions] with a PIR sensor...stupid things...walk up a driveway and get hit full in the face...they sprayed light everywhere except where it was really needed...but people bought the damn things in their millions from Bunnings, our hardware big-box chain...because they thought they would deter intruders, so I assume that is what these Mercury Lamp Containing Wallpacks are chiefly for in the United States) ...we have no equivalent of. BUT I can understand marketers...some of the most dishonest people you will ever come across and who reduce the overall morality of our communities which would otherwise lead to greater levels of community spirit...and those same people who run businesses like this "Castner" crowd who don't manufacture their own stuff but rather just on-sell the stuff of others...have had a meeting somewhere and decided that in all their deceitfulness to request the Chinese manufacturers who the purchase their lamps from to deliberately mark lamps made with 50w arc tubes as 100w lamps....knowing full-well they will be grossly overloaded and sputter the electrodes away rapidly...causing the punter who bought such a thing to go and buy another in three months.

I don't know of it is as bad over there as it is here, but have you seemed to notice that the focus over the last five decades has been from providing good quality products...at a fairly high price...but you got good quality and long life. However this has deteriorated into "churn", where the price is low and the products are not only crap, but deliberately "engineered" or, as in this case "mis-specd" to fail in short order. The environment is the one who really pays...but it also seems to be an indicator of the general downward trend in society as a whole...people have less, so they get people to spend less but, much more often...so about the same is still being ripped out of them!!

We are seeing the same here in chocolate...the coco-butter is squeezed out and sold to cosmetics companies where it fetches a premium price but it is replace with palm oil. The bars are getting smaller too.

Manufactured articles should be made to be used, not made to be sold!

Fee, Fye, Fow, Fum, A dead man's eye and a parrot's BUM!

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Sep 12, 2019 at 08:13 PM Author: BlueHalide
Well put, Globe Collector. Yes, everything over the last few decades is "designed for the dump", planned obsolescence is alive and well, more so now than ever with the domestic-grade LED offerings we see. Its interesting HID never caught on down under, other than commercial, municipal and industrial use. We also used lots of quartz halogen in PAR 38's, and those 300w/500w linear floods, but mercury, halide, and HPS has always been available too for the consumer market. Photocontrolled luminaries or "Dusk to dawn" has always been the most popular type of exterior lighting, more so than PIR motion-sensor, so I suppose a 100w mercury flood made more financial sense than a 500w quartz halogen for that application.

Dont even get me started on Palm Oil, its in everything here, not just confectionery. And big sugar as well, an industry which is causing an environmental disaster in Florida, yet bribe and lobby the politicians to do nothing about it.
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Sep 13, 2019 at 06:49 AM Author: Globe Collector
Bribe and lobby politicians......never! (sic) We have just had a chunk of land sold to the Chinese on the waterfront....the Council have gone over there to fawn abs suck.... ...it sounds as bad in Florida as it is here in Tasmania. Do you have nasty perocialisaim too..?

Anyway, back to the REAL topic.....yes a few have 500w linear halogens here too....that blast into neighbors yards everytime a cat crosses in front of the PIR. Dusk-to-dawn sensors are no a domestic thing here, they are only ever seen in public street lighting.


I'm sort of "collecting up" examples of "built in obsolescence" no body has done a You Tube Channel yet that drags thus nasty little practice "kicking and screaming form under the bed" yet as far as I can tell....maybe I should be the first! Forewarned is forearmed as they say.

Are these clear ED mercurys hard to get (yet)? Has the semiconductor tide swept them away yet, because I'd like to score one or two sample before they become extinct of possible?

Manufactured articles should be made to be used, not made to be sold!

Fee, Fye, Fow, Fum, A dead man's eye and a parrot's BUM!

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Sep 13, 2019 at 06:56 AM Author: Globe Collector
Bribe and lobby politicians......never! (sic) We have just had a chunk of land sold to the Chinese on the waterfront....the Council have gone over there to fawn abs suck.... ...it sounds as bad in Florida as it is here in Tasmania. Do you have nasty perocialisaim too..?

Anyway, back to the REAL topic.....yes a few have 500w linear halogens here too....that blast into neighbors yards everytime a cat crosses in front of the PIR. Dusk-to-dawn sensors are no a domestic thing here, they are only ever seen in public street lighting.


I'm sort of "collecting up" examples of "built in obsolescence" no body has done a You Tube Channel yet that drags thus nasty little practice "kicking and screaming form under the bed" yet as far as I can tell....maybe I should be the first! Forewarned is forearmed as they say.

Are these clear ED mercurys hard to get (yet)? Has the semiconductor tide swept them away yet, because I'd like to score one or two sample before they become extinct of possible?

Manufactured articles should be made to be used, not made to be sold!

Fee, Fye, Fow, Fum, A dead man's eye and a parrot's BUM!

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Sep 14, 2019 at 02:31 PM Author: BlueHalide
Globe Collector, that link I shared above for these same Caster lamps is still good, Im not sure if they ship to Australia, but since its Ebay its likely you could get them. If not, ide be willing to ship you a few if you'd like. I have a handful of these clear Caster 100's, as well as a few of their 175w lamps as well, that I have no use for, or dont plan on using.
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