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Fluorescent Fixture Puzzle

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by John Keiser, Sep 11, 2005.

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  1. John Keiser

    John Keiser Guest

    My 30 year-old 4 bulb kitchen fixture recently began having startup issues.
    I changed the bulbs [el-cheapo ACE sale 40W bulbs] but the problem
    continued: often heaters glow but bulbs would not light unless I flicked the
    switch quickly on-off-on. Once lite, all was fine.

    Rather than buy an expensive ballast, I did what I've done before: I bought
    the $10 2 bulb shoplight special at Home Depot and used the guts to replace
    one of the two ballasts/sockets in the kitchen fixture.

    The same ballast and ACE bulbs works fine elsewhere. But in the kitchen I
    still have the startup issue.

    Ground checked solid.

    Connections are solidly pigtailed.

    AC is 124 volts.

    What am I'm missing here? I don't see any reason t buy a new $125 4 bulb
    fixture. Are ACE bulbs lower quality these days? Bad luck on the ballast?

    I know this is simple stuff. But thanks for any comments.
     
  2. Guest

    Are you sure you have the new ballast wired to the same two tubes and
    not somehow cross-wired to one end of a tube still on the other
    ballast. Otherwise, I have done exactly what you did with no problms.
    Do you have the input wires reversed? Even if not, maybe you should
    try the fixture on the benchgtop with the wires to the new ballast
    reversed, there is a capacitance effect that they use to help start the
    bulbs, and a reversal of wires negates the starting effect. If all
    else fails, reinstall the ballast in the cheap fisture to make sure it
    still works.

    H. R. (Bob) Hofmann
     
  3. Guest

    Hey John,
    You can get instant start electronic ballasts for <$30 for 4 bulbs.
    Combine that with 4 new 32 Watt T-8s and get more light, less power, no
    flickering. You also have color temp options which can be very nice in
    the kitchen.
    GG
     
  4. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest


    Those cheap shoplights have garbage ballasts, that's one of the first parts
    they cheapened up. I assume this is the rapid start type and not the old
    preheat style? Ground to the reflector is very important, but you said you
    checked that. Since you used a junk ballast I would recommend replacing that
    with something good, there's a reason real ballasts cost more. Personally
    I've been using Advance T8 electronic ballasts. The 4 lamp style is under 20
    bucks. You have to buy T8 tubes instead of your old T12s but you get more
    light, less power consumption, no flicker and instant starting.
     
  5. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    Wow I should have read that before I replied, you even used almost exactly
    the same wording.

    Actually though there's a wide variety of phosphors available in the old
    style T12 tubes, including some not found often in T8, but for some reason
    the T8 stuff is almost all premium trichromatic phosphors so you don't have
    to special order stuff other than the basic CW and WW halophosphate stuff.

    One thing to look for is pick up 80 series stuff with 80+ CRI, the color
    rendering really is much nicer than the 70 series stuff. Most of them are
    numbered in a way that makes it simple, F32T8-835 for example is
    fluorescent, 32 Watt, tubular 8 eighths inch diameter, CRI 80+ with a color
    temperature of 3500K.
     
  6. Markus

    Markus Guest

    John,

    Check the sockets, had one out in my barn that drove me crazy, did the
    same thing, got a cheapo shoplite from homedepot for les than 15
    bucks, switched out the guts, found one bulb heater wasn't making
    connection. disconnected the power for the umpteenth time and scraped
    the socket contacts, works like a champ. A quick check would be to
    put in all the bulbs, fire it up for 5 minutes then take out the bulbs
    to see if all of the ends are warm from the filaments. Oh yea, my
    barn gets real cold in the winter, learned to stay away from those 34
    watt bulbs, they don't work very well when cold. There is only a few
    volts at the filaments, 6 volts I believe or less, however, they sit
    around 600Volts above ground, so , be careful if you think about using
    a meter to measure the filament voltage. Mine all checked fine,
    contact was corroded in the spot where the pins rest when the bulb is
    locked in.


    Take care,

    Markus
     
  7. Gail Storm

    Gail Storm Guest

    Not saying this is the answer but we had a similar problem with a basement
    light. Worked for years and started to have same symptoms as you described. If
    we touched the fixture it would start. Found that the fixture was not grounded.
    Your mileage may vary.
     
  8. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    Normally that'd be my first guess, he did say the ground was ok though.
     
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