How to fix ghosting bulbs in your pinball machine

Posted by Ryan Wanger on

The situation is this: one or more of the controlled lights (usually the light under an insert on the playfield) in your machine is dimly lit or flickering just a little bit, even though it should be completely turned off. What do you do?!?

We call that "ghosting", and it happens because there is just a little bit of voltage at the socket. This extra voltage wasn’t a problem for incandescent bulbs, which took a bit of time, and a lot of voltage to start getting bright. However, LEDs can turn on and off instantly, and will illuminate with much less voltage.

Cue the solution: “non-ghosting” bulbs. Each of our non-ghosting bulbs contains a small resistor, which prevents the bulb from illuminating at all until the socket gets closer to 3v. Above 3v, the bulb turns on.

Although there are a few exceptions, ghosting can occur on almost any game that came with incandescent bulbs from the factory (which is roughly 2013 and older). Your game may ghost, it may not. There may be many bulbs affected, or maybe just a few. Some people don’t even notice this phenomenon, while others are driven to pinball madness by it.

This only impacts the controlled lighting in your game, meaning bulbs that are turned on and off to indicate game features. Sockets for general illumination bulbs (which are there to provide light to the game and are generally kept on at all times) won’t have this issue.

Most of our most popular styles of bulbs have a non-ghosting version. Generally they are around 20 to 25 cents more per bulb, but well worth it to get rid of those pesky ghosts you’ve been having.

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