2229 posts, joined 09/25/2002
All sorts of things here.
First, the box the recessed fixture (aka "can" or "pot") is probably a insulation-contact (IC) rated box. These boxes have a thermocouple in there to prevent a too-large lamp from overheating the box and causing problems for/with insulation in contact with same.
All of those thermocouples are from "low bidder"; some portion are from "least bidder."
Which means that you can read the label stating that nnW maximum, and you install that size only for the faulty thermocouple to kick in, and shut off the lamp.
If that is the case, you're hosed. You just have to down-rate the lamp you use. For instance, for a 60W fixture you'll need to try a 50, 45, or 40W lamp until you find one that works.
Or, follow underoo's excellent suggestion and use a dimmer (just not with a CFL, even a "dimmable" one).
In a bathroom, I like the Lutron "smart" dimmers. Set the light level to the minimum you need, and one tap gets that every time. Two taps is full bright. Three taps fades to off. Easy.
My second preference in dimmers is to use ones with a slider for level, and a toggle for on/off. That way you can set the level to not-break-your-neck and also does-bot-cause-night blindness, and there's no fussing, just throw the switch.
Ok, second issue is CFL. They have problems in ceiling fixtures, for hanging upside down. The lamp designers had to pick an orientation for edison-base CFL. They chose base down. Inside those lamps are circuit cards, cards that replace ballasts and starters. Like everything else manufactured, those components are usually made by low bidder. So, when the heat from the fixture (and the electric bits within) is emitted, it rises away from the sensitive components--but, only if the base is down.
In a recessed ceiling fixture, all the heat passes up into the base of the fixture, and all of the electronics therein. This can shorten lamp life rather starkly.
Both of these conditions can combine, and it's not pretty.