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How to Tell if a High-Pressure Sodium Bulb is Bad [5 Ways]

Aren’t your high-pressure sodium bulbs working properly?

It is really annoying if all the bulbs are not glowing outside your house.

So, it’s time for a check.

How to tell if a high pressure sodium bulb is bad?

There are a few ways you can tell if a high pressure bulb is bad. Examining the bulb should be the first task. Look for any discoloration on the bulb. Other than that, check the wiring, ballast, capacitor, voltage. A bad bulb is always not an issue when it does not emit light. 

There are multiple things to look out for when the bulb is not working. Do check each of the points below. We have discussed them in detail.

How to Know if the Light is Bad or Broken

How to Tell if a High-Pressure Sodium Bulb is Bad [5 Ways] 1

Nothing lasts forever. The average lifespan of a high-pressure sodium bulb is 18 months or 24,000 running hours. It is recommended to replace the lights afterward. 

But how to know if the bulb has gone bad? There are a few key things you can look out for to know the bulb has gone bad. 

Check the Bulb

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The most common way to know if the light is bad, but checking the light. If the bulb is not producing any light, take the bulb from the holder and hold it up to examine.

You should be looking for any discoloration in the glass. The bulb is burned out if there’s any black spot in the tube. 

Also, the bulb will not work if there’s any sort of crack in it. The high pressure and the sodium gas will escape the tube because of the crack.

Check for the Correct Voltage

The correct voltage for your bulb is very important. Too much or too little can cause damage to the bulb. High-pressure bulbs require a steady flow of electricity. 

If there’s too much voltage to the bulb, the bulb will burn out. But if there’s too little voltage, the bulb will not produce light properly. Negative voltage can damage the bulb as well. 

Check the voltage with a voltmeter. Attach the meter wire to the wire your bulb is attached to. Look for the appropriate voltage your bulb operates at. If it is too high or too low, talk to your electricity provider to fix it.

Using a voltmeter is essential to get a good reading. If you don’t have one, you can consider buying one of these:

AstroAI Multimeter 2000 CountsCheck Current Price
KAIWEETS Digital Multimeter TRMS 6000 CountsCheck Current Price

They do give an accurate rating and will last for a long time. 

Check the Wiring

Other than the bulb, you should also check the wiring of the bulb. Maybe the bulb is not damaged, the wiring is. 

Check the wiring in the bulb holder. The bulb has 2 connections. One is positive, one is negative. In most cases the live or positive wire is red. 

The negative wire is black. Check if the wires are connected to the holder properly. The light socket adapters are generally safe. Just don’t put your fingers inside.

If the bulb doesn’t work after connecting the wires with the holder, the wire might be damaged. There might be a tare in the wiring. Replacing the wiring will fix the problem. 

Check the Ballast

Ballast is a really important part of any electronics. It works as a device to limit a load of electricity to the device. The ballast usually sits near the bulbs. All kinds of high-pressure bulbs need ballasts.

Do check if the wires are connected properly to the ballast. If not, tight the wires with the screws. 

If the ballast is damaged, you must replace it. It is easier to replace a ballast than fix it. A broken ballast will not supply electricity to the bulb. So the bulbs will not work.  

After you get a new ballast, connect the wire properly. Keep the wires separated. Otherwise, the wires can melt off

Check the Capacitor

A capacitor is a really important past as well. The capacitor stores and releases electricity. It also lets alternative current pass than direct current. AC electricity is much more efficient than DC. so your bulb will be more efficient. 

The capacitor might be damaged. If damaged, the oil will leak out of it. Steam can also damage the capacitor. 

Also, there are a lot of types of capacitors. See what resistance your bulb operates on. Then get the correct capacitor for it. 

If the capacitor is broken, it will not let electricity pass as a broken ballast won’t.  Changing the capacitor will fix the problem. 

Why Do High-Pressure Sodium Light Go Bad

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A high-pressure sodium bulb is no different when it comes to bulbs. It will die eventually one day.  

The main part which glows light is known as the arc tube. There are xenon, sodium, and mercury gasses inside the bulb. 

Without the sodium gas, the light will turn out to be blue. To keep all the gasses inside the bulb, a high-pressure seal is ensured. The seal can go losses over a period of time. 

When it does, the gasses will escape the tube. If the gasses escape, the bulb will not emit light. Be careful of faulty bulbs as sometimes light bulbs can explode


Are HPS lights similar to neon lights?

Answers: The high pressure and usage of a lot of gasses are similar. But HPS bulbs emit more lights. 

Can you fix a broken HPS bulb?

Answer: No, fixing an HPS bulb is quite impossible. The high-pressure seal cannot be fixed locally. 

How to check if the electricity is flowing through the wires?

Answer: Use a tester that has a fuse like a circuit inside. It will glow if the electricity is flowing through the wires. 


That’s everything you need to know about how to tell if a high pressure sodium bulb is bad.

Do take required safety measures when working with live wires. 

Good luck with your HPS bulb!