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Heat Causes Light Fixture To Automatically Shut Off


recessed light fixtureA customer called to say that a recessed light in his house kept going out. He said that after turning the light on, it stays illuminated for a few minutes and then turns off. He replaced the bulb several times anyway and it still turns off.

The problem isn't the bulb, rather it's the heat. Recessed light fixtures (aka can lights) are basically a can with a light bulb in it. Most people use a flood-style or spot-style bulb in them. These produce heat that gets trapped in the can. To complicate matters, there is a decorative trim ring around the bottom of the can which further traps heat. You see these when you look up at the ceiling.

It's not the light bulb that is shutting off, it's the light fixture. The recessed can fixture has a high-limit cut-off switch that shuts off the fixture when the heat becomes excessive. An easy fix may be as simple as moving the light bulb closer to the ceiling's opening, allowing more space between the bulb and the switch. If the bulb is too deep in the can, it is closer to the switch and more likely to build up heat, which will shut off the fixture. The fixture will have a sliding mechanism with a wing nut that you can loosen so you can move the bulb up or down.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the correct bulb and trim ring are being used. Unscrew the bulb and read the label inside the fixture. It will tell you what bulbs are compatible and the maximum wattage. You may be able to solve the problem by just using a bulb with a lower wattage. Here is some additional information on recessed light fixture repair.



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