Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oman: Land that ate light bulbs - What is up with the power in this country?

OK. I'm basically typing this post in the god-damn dark. Does anyone else notice that light bulbs seem to last like... 20 mins in this country? I try different brands. No difference (as least not that I've noticed).

Photo credit:Unplugged by maapu

Do the manufacturers ship us like, factory seconds? The ones that a bit too much O2 got left in or something? And these are like Sylvana or Philips brands. Is this too nothing but re-labeled crap made in China from 20% melamine?

I hate it. My house has... well... a shit load of light bulbs. Waay too many to count. And a few that I'd need a cherry picker - inside the house - to reach. But there never ever seems to be a time when all the light bulbs I can reach actually are all working.

Sometimes I'll spend what seems like a whole morning in a blitzkrieg of bulb changing. To no avail. Some of the bastards - especially the hard to reach/change ones- seem to take perverse pleasure in popping as soon as I've put away whatever piece of furniture I was precariously balanced on to change the damn thing.

So, I've often wondered. Has anyone else noticed the same phenomena? Is it the power supply? Or the bulbs? Or the shitty wiring in my house? Aaaaaarg!!!!


  1. I've noticed it too, drives me berzerk. Doesn't happen here in the US of A. I'd love to know the explanation.

    -Omani in US

  2. Shitty wiring in your house is the cause. Otherwise places like Muscat City Center would have the same problem. Power fluctuations at the grid level would have far worse implications, and the fluctuation tolerance levels of transformers aren't that great.

    Knowing how bad the wiring is here, its the shitty wiring in your home, and could even be a shitty fuse board too.

    You need a decent sparky to sort that. Coincidentally, The Sultan Center (I think I saw it there) has a tool for changing light bulbs in hard to reach places. Its essentially a hand at the end of a broom handle that is telescoping so it can be extended. It black with a yellow "hand". Perhaps you should invest?!

  3. Traditional incandescent light bulbs are "heat devices" producing 10 times more heat than light. Put that in our air-conditioned spaces and the rapid warm-up and consequent physical expansion on switch-on is what kills them.

    Best solution in my experience - switch to Compact Fluorescent bulbs. They last at least 5 times longer and consume about 5 times less for the same amount of brightness.

  4. Don't have that problem in my house. Must be bad wiring in your house or an uneven power supply to your house. However if it's the power supply to your house you'd notice the power fluctuations.

    Could also be cheap or badly made light fixtures as well. In my parents' house, my mother changed the light fixtures in my room after I moved out. After the new ones were put in bulbs don't last more than a week.

  5. I see...I will chalk it up to shitty wiring...cheers

    -Omani in US

  6. Why don't you try CFL long life bulbs, although upfront costs are slightly higher they last much more and can withstand voltage variations better than GLS bulbs.

  7. Ahhh you read my mind!

    We've only just gone around the house last night with a ladder.

    Do your bulbs explode at really inopportune times?
    Usually when I've walked in at night with a handle of grocery bags or carrying something fragile.

    Open hall door, hit light switch, BANG!
    "Jesus!" Girlfriend screams, everybody jumps, bags get dropped, "Calm down, just let me get to the fuseboard".... three steps inside and foot comes into contact with the tin of Heinz Baked Beans that had rolled off into the darkness when the bags fell.

    Usual chain of events then occurs: The mid-air eppletives, followed by the disintegration of the IKEA cabinet beside the television.

    Stunned and completely disoriented, on my back.
    Girlfriend doing the all-so-helpful "Are you ok?", "Hello?".....

    Get up, steady myself and realise that living room tiles are now a minefield of DVD covers and an assault course of Swedish furniture moving the things around in a blind person's house.

    Another step forward.......then the real darkness....and the time distortion....and the "It's ok. Just relax. mate. I'm Dr. Shivram and you're in Muscat Private."

  8. ah! yes. I have a long veranda in my house with nearly 10 bulbs and I never saw all of them working! another one is bathroom -- it freaks me out how one bulb should only work for a week or two!
    CFL bulbs though last longer they aren't good for health -- they give you headache coz of Hg content.

  9. It's shitty wiring, and also I'm so convinced that Muscat gets all the factory seconds from every factory. I'm totally with you on that!

  10. Mercury (Hg) content is inside the bulb, so you're only exposed to it if you dispose of the CFL bulb improperly e.g. break it on your kitchen table or in your baby's crib. The slight chance of the headache is due to the frequency of the electric current and the subsequent flicker.

  11. Thanks for the input team.

    1/ mini-florescent. Good idea and I'll implement where possible. Won't work with a lot of the fixtures tho

    2/ root cause - I think you all nailed it - must be bad wiring as suspect no. 1.

    3/ Fingers on a stick. No good. The bulb is inside a screwed down carriage lamp thing. Your Fingers can't cut that UL.

    4/ I can't extrapolate to blame the power company. Damn.

    5/ Boxster's right MM, the Hg is only when you smash them.

    Like in a landfill. In Oman.. Hmmm.

    Thanks for all the comments.


  12. you're famous!

    this post got you a mention on the morning show with Darren today! :D

  13. r
    Wow. Thats cool. Free advertising!!! What did he say?

  14. It's not the bulbs and in most cases it's not the wiring. We had good wiring in the house but the same problem that everybody else has with blowing bulbs. When we left we had such a mountain of spare bulbs that we shoved them in our shipment. Since returning to UK we have used hardly any of the bulbs we brought back because they are lasting forever in the light fittings here.
    We never had problems with the computer in Oman so voltage fluctuations were not to blame.
    Perhaps the general voltage (and I don't mean spikes) is higher in Oman for longish periods (not that my little voltmeter ever indicated that)or it is a temperature related problem as boxter said.

  15. This blog was mentioned on the radio? ooer, better watch what we all say.

    -Omani in US

  16. 1)Based on the above, I am inclined to figure you, UD, have a combo of problems, but sounds like the most likely = the light fixtures -- perhaps the sockets or other parts of the fixtures are not built to UK code (i.e. may be made out of materials that heat up way too much). If you have friend going to UK soon, perhaps they could bring you a new fixture or 2 from there to try out???
    2) Given that it sounds as though many Omanis need good jobs, what is the Sultanate doing to train good electricians who would be sort of UK certified? AND Are there building codes in Oman that specify wiring and fixtures and how they are put together; and plumbing? And can a land lord be required to bring his/her house up to code?? Are the codes such that EVERYONE (even those with wasta) must abide by them?


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