Do Burned Out Light Bulbs Use Electricity? (Explained!)


You might be having too many light bulbs in your house. And it’s not possible for you to keep track of all of them every time. Right? So if some of the light bulbs burn out while they were still on then a question can naturally come to your mind. Do burned-out light bulbs use electricity?

In general, Incandescent and halogen light bulbs don’t use electricity when they burn out. However, Fluorescent light and LED bulbs can use electricity even when they burn out depending on how they burned because even after burning out there can be some parts in them that keep using electricity.

Burned Out Light Bulbs Type:Draws Electricity?
IncandescentNO
HalogenNO
FluorescentYES
LEDYES

With that being said, let’s dive in deeper and see what happens in each type of light bulb when they burn out, plus some related topics. So without further ado let’s dive in!

Do Burned Out Light Bulbs Use Electricity (Explained!)

Do Burned Out Incandescent Light Bulbs Use Electricity?

In general, no, if an incandescent light bulb burns out then it doesn’t use any electricity.

The working of the incandescent light bulb is pretty simple as compared to other light bulbs. It contains a filament made of tungsten which is enclosed within a glass bulb.

When current passes through the filament it gets heated up to a temperature when light is produced.

Now, what happens is, due to repeated wear and tear, the filament of the bulb gets thinner and thinner until it snaps and breaks the electric current causing the bulb to burn out.

You may also hear a ringing sound when you shake a burnt-out light bulb which is due to the fragments of the snapped filament present loose inside the bulb.

Since, in incandescent bulbs, the filament is what mainly draws the current, heats up, and produces the light. In burned-out incandescent bulbs, the filament is snapped, and thus due to the absence of any current drawing element in a burned-out incandescent bulb, it doesn’t use electricity.

By the way, if you are wondering about how to dispose of incandescent light bulbs then don’t forget to check out my complete incandescent bulb’s disposal guide here.

Do Burned Out Halogen Light Bulbs Use Electricity?

In general, no, the burned-out halogen light bulbs won’t be using any electricity.

The halogen light bulbs are almost like the incandescent bulbs except that the composition of the glass envelope in a halogen light bulb is different as well as the gas inside the envelope is different than the incandescent light bulbs.

The halogen bulb fails in the same way, the filament simply breaks, and the current stops.

In case you are wondering how to dispose of halogen light bulbs, I would also encourage you to have a look at my complete halogen bulb’s disposal guide here.

See also  Incandescent Light Bulbs: A Complete Disposal Guide!

Do Burned Out Fluorescent Light Bulbs Use Electricity?

Before we come to the conclusion of whether or not the fluorescent light bulbs use electricity let’s have a brief introduction about how they actually work.

A fluorescent light lamp consists of a sealed glass tube that contains inert gas like argon, trace amounts of mercury, and a coating of phosphorous powder. On the ends of the tube, there are electrodes that are connected to the electric circuit and conduct electricity.

Now what happens is when when you turn on the light, the electric current starts flowing through the electrodes. The voltage causes the electrons to move through the argon gas to the other side of the tube and the energy from this transition actually causes the mercury to turn from liquid to gas.

Collison of electrons, charged atoms occur with gaseous mercury atoms and the collision increases the energy level of the electrons.

When the electrons return to the normal state of energy level, energy is released in the form of photons, creating an invisible light spectrum.

Finally, the phosphor powder present in the tube interacts with the invisible light spectrum and thus produces the white light that we can see. 

Now, the fluorescent bulbs require the transformer and ballasts to control the voltage through the gas.

If a fluorescent bulb is burnt out, then these components may still draw the current. Although it may not be as much as when the light is working but still current may be drawn by those parts.

Mike Bourgeous did an interesting test which he also shares in his blog to test how much electricity a burned-out CFL would consume.

He took two types of bulbs for this test. One was the good bulb (the working bulb) and the other was the bad bulb (burned out) bulb.

The power consumption of each bulb was measured individually. So he first took the good working 26W bulb and checked. Initially, it showed 23.5W which settled down to 22.3W after 10 minutes.

Now the baseline was set at 23.5W, it was now the time to measure the bad bulb. When it was checked, surprisingly it was still consuming almost 50% of its rated power.

Initially, the burned-out bulb was measured at 9.8W which rose to 11W after 10 minutes.

It was concluded from this test that a bad CFL bulb can still use almost 50% of the power of a good bulb.

In short, yes, the fluorescent light bulbs and the CFLs do use up some amount of electricity even when they burn out.

Now in case if you ever wondered whether or not fluorescent light bulbs get hot, I would highly encourage you to check out my detailed article on do fluorescent light bulbs get hot.

Do Burned Out LED Light Bulbs Use Electricity?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. And diodes are basically miniature semiconductors that light up under voltage.

In each LED light bulb, there are many such diodes that emit light out of the bulb.

The issue with LEDs is that as there are more parts involved in the process of producing light, more parts can still draw the electric current.

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Actually, the circuit isn’t physically broken when the light-emitting elements in the LEDs fail. Hence, current is still drawn through the circuits to these other parts. So yes, burned-out LEDs do use electricity.

By the way, if you use LED lights in your house then you might also like to read my complete article about how LEDs affect our sleep here.

Does An Empty Light Socket Use Electricity?

In general, no, an empty light socket does not use electricity.

Electricity runs through any circuit only when it is complete. If the socket is empty and no appliance is running on that socket then the circuit isn’t actually completed. So in such a case, an empty light socket can’t use electricity.

Although that being said, if something is poked inside the socket then the circuit can become closed. So it becomes a safety issue, right?

Now also, if the socket is designed parallel to the circuit, then this will actually give rise to a short circuit.

In short, if a light bulb socket is kept empty then it can cause an electrocution risk as well as a fire hazard.

I have already written a detailed article on is it safe to leave my light bulbs socket partially unscrewed or empty in which I also discussed ways to safeguard yourself against an empty light bulb socket and other related things. 

So I would highly recommend you to check that out if you are interested to know more about it.

What Happens If You Turn On A Light Without Bulb?

If you turn on a light (which means you turn on the switch) without the bulb (which means the socket is in empty condition) then nothing will happen and no current will be used as we already discussed that an empty socket can’t use electricity.

However, if for some reason someone puts something inside the socket and makes the circuit closed then it is really a big danger and can cause electrocution as well as there is a risk of fire hazard.

By the way, if you use light socket adapters then you might also like to check out my article about are light socket adapters safe.

Does Unscrewing Light Bulbs Save Electricity?

Technically, yes, unscrewing the light bulbs will save electricity because by unscrewing the bulb you actually break a portion of the circuit.

Basically, when you turn off a switch you break the circuit and thus stop the current flow. In the same way when you remove the bulb from the socket, the circuit breaks.

And electric current only flows through a closed complete circuit, right? So the current won’t flow through the circuit if we unscrew a bulb in that circuit.

Also, an empty light socket won’t produce any electricity in general. Hence, it can be said that no electricity is used if you unscrew and detach the bulb’s connection with the circuit.

Conclusion

So in short, only incandescent and halogen light bulbs don’t use electricity even when they burn out. 

However, the fluorescent bulbs and the LEDs can still use electricity even when they burn out because there can be some components present in them that would still keep utilizing the electricity.

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And though the empty socket doesn’t use any electricity, they are just like openings in the circuit. If anyone puts something inside the socket and if for any reason the circuit becomes closed then there will be the risk of electrocution and even Fire Hazard.

So it is advised to keep the socket filled. The best option would be to actually utilize that socket by a working bulb. But if you don’t plan to use the socket then you can also fill in it with a dead bulb, or use electrical tapes or socket fillers/adapters.

That’s it! I hope you found this article helpful. Now, I would also encourage you to check out my article on top 10 best LED light strips for your room.

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