Getting High on LED lights and Smoke Alarms

There can be issues in living within a house with 15 foot ceilings. The builders like to “put things” a-way (sic) up there. Like lighting and smoke alarms. Things that need to be serviced from time to time. 

When reaching and exceeding age 75, it’s no longer one of my abilities to climb the required 2-piece extension ladder (inside the house) to reach those 15 foot high devices.

I have a son, Steve. I can entice him to do that climbing for me. However, Steve has now reached age 50+ so his climbing days are getting less. Thankfully they are not completely gone.

Steve just changed five 9 volt (ceiling mounted smoke alarm) batteries for me yesterday. I also had a track light bulb up at that level that was out.


The light was a long life LED, but it seems it hasn’t lived up to its published spec of a possible 20 year+ life span. Ceilings at that height are quite warm (heat rises) so the lamps do operate in a higher than average temperature condition. (I am a HVAC (heating, ventilation air conditioning) professional) I know about things such as heat rising… Ha!

From the ground level inspection and a dim memory of the initial install, I presumed the bulbs were what the industry designates as PAR30. (30 X(times)) 1/8 inch. That is a diameter of 3.75 inches. A PAR40 bulb is 5 inches in diameter. (Now you know the code)

But PAR 30 has a twin that is the PAR30L meaning Longer depth thread tip to face. Can’t tell that from the ground. My bulbs are PAR30L. (See picture above.) I used a microscope camera to capture a picture off the old bulb.

Like headlights on a car. It’s good practice to change all the bulbs in a group when its so difficult (and dangerous) to climb up that high to make a change. I placed an order for six new PAR30L bulbs. Price range $10 @.

There are several other details to consider with these style bulbs. First is the color of the (white) light produced. Bright white to warm yellow. There are several color scales in use and proper choice of color depends on the environment where they are used. 

Next is the width (illuminated coverage area) of the light beam. This varies from concentrated (spot) to wide area (flood). There are options between. I ordered a new bulb style that is adjustable between 30 degrees (narrow spot) to 100 degrees (wide flood). All bases covered!

There is a couple of weeks lead time on the bulbs, so that work will have to wait. We are not exactly in the dark with only one bulb failed.

I would not be surprised if there is some “planned obsolesces” built into LED lighting bulbs. Especially for the consumer market. There are also a lot of poorly made, low cost, Asian import products flooding the market. A cheap LED bulb is a cheap LED bulb.

It is a little known fact there was/is a conspiracy theory with early incandescent bulb makers to limit the product burn life to create a huge replacement bulb market.

But as with many conspiracy stories, there are many details to consider. The famous 100+ year bulb (shown in the link) burns so dimly, I can hardly consider it a practical bulb or proving a conspiracy. I have seen toaster filaments brighter than that bulb.

Nothing I can do about bulb life expectancy, except be aware or wary. It’s usually a result of getting what you pay for, unless it is an outright scam. (A lot of those these days too.)

So a 25 year lightbulb will last me until I reach age 100 years. I don’t think I will be in shape to complain much. Just very happy to live to see it burn out!

As far as the smoke alarms, My alarms are all wired with 120 volts A/C. If one alarms, they all start screaming. The battery is actually just a power off standby power, so they last nearly the “shelf life” of an unused 9 Volt battery. Typical 5 years or as long as 10 on some varieties. 

Oh yeah, “Thanks Steve” for getting high for me.