I was watching TV and it was not dark yet, but just dark enough to need a little extra light. We have a standing lamp in the living room and in the top I had a CFL 23W bulb. While watching TV, I noticed what I thought was a flash of lightning. It wasn’t storming outside. I got up to get something else to drink and the light flickered in the lamp.
Just as I looked in that direction, there was a muffled pop. Smoke and tiny sparks like that off a grinding wheel shot upwards about 3 inches. I ran over and switched off the lamp. This was my first ever experience with a CFL going out. This one was about a year old.
Research shows that although there is no danger of fire as long as they are used as directed (the plastic will not burn) they are dramatic at times when they burn out. They also say that they sometimes (while operating) can give off a smell like overheated wiring. That explains the many times I have gotten up while in my office working and searched for what I thought was over heated wires. They may not burn by themselves, but if the sparks that traveled about 3 inches from my bulb had struck something flammable, that might be a different story. Maybe brand name bulbs don’t do sparks. These were from China, and I hear they love fireworks. It was also stamped UL approved.
I recommend buying brand name CFL’s if you can. The two we have had burn-out (we were not around when one of them when it burned out) were from China “Optolight” brand. I will be buying brand name bulbs now, and hoping for longer life and less dramatic endings.
I read many articles, but this ladies blog post came closest to my incident. You will notice the smoke stains on hers indicates that her bulb must have been in a lamp aiming down allowing the smoke to come upwards and smudge the bulb. https://singlemomandateenagedgirl.com/2013/01/cfl-flourescent-light-bulbs-a-fire-hazard/
Here is my bulb, the smoke rose upwards so did not dirty the base of the bulb like others do. These bulbs have electronics in them that go out instead of the bulb. Capacitors or the voltage regulator :burn” out resulting in smoke sparks and odor. Be careful where you use them. Do not use them in recessed lighting, or track lighting. Note the smoke and small flame and sparks came out around the Tube you see blackened.