Voltage of fluorescent lights


  #1  
Old 12-07-03, 03:37 PM
ejmeier
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Voltage of fluorescent lights

I have been in the process of making my own fluorescent lighting fixture, and I have got eveything set up and ready to go, but now I have hit one small snag.

I am using the push-in wiring type endcaps - that is, you need 18 gauge solid wire (usually what is coming from the ballast) and push this into the spring-like connector and the wire stays in place.

Well, I have been having a very hard time finding solid 18 gauge wire for this job. I tried all over town, and the only place thusfar that I could find was Radio Shack.

I got home, and it turns out that this wire is only rated for 300 volts! If I compare the insulation on this wire to that of the wire coming out of the ballast, this wire has visibly thinner insulation.

I have heard that fluorescent ballasts actually use 600 volts to start the lamps, is this true? Will I have any problems using this wire as opposed to the stuff rated for 600v? If so, where am I going to find 18g solid wire rated for 600v?

Thanks.
 
  #2  
Old 12-07-03, 04:57 PM
J
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Ballasts if placed in the center if the fixture usually have wires long enough to reach the end caps without extending them.
 
  #3  
Old 12-07-03, 05:01 PM
ejmeier
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Originally posted by joed
Ballasts if placed in the center if the fixture usually have wires long enough to reach the end caps without extending them.
I snipped the ballasts out of previous fixtures, so the wires aren't long enough.
 
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Old 12-07-03, 10:05 PM
W
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I've rewired countless light fixtures using 16ga THHN wire with no problem what so ever. Don't be concerned about it.
 
  #5  
Old 12-08-03, 10:31 AM
ejmeier
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Originally posted by weebee
I've rewired countless light fixtures using 16ga THHN wire with no problem what so ever. Don't be concerned about it.
It's not the gauge of the wire in question, but the thickness of the insulation. I am concerned that if there is ever more than 300v going through the wire, it could arc through the jacket and onto the metal reflector, which is grounded.

Anyway, I still can't find ANY solid gauge wire rated for 600v in thicknesses smaller than 14g.

I can't believe this never comes up??? I mean, I looked at the wiring diagram on the ballast and there is not a 1 to 1 ratio of wires from the ballast to wires to the sockets. On my ballast, there is one [hot] wire for each bulb, and yet each bulb has two pins that need to be connected, so you would have to use more wire to make this possible.

I had a nice little "chat" about this with the people at Menard's, and they basically told me I was out of luck. I even went to a lighting specialty store, and they didn't have the wire either. I am now going in the yellow pages and checking with wire specialty stores.

What a hassle for a lousy $5 spool of wire....
 
  #6  
Old 12-08-03, 12:37 PM
M
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What you are looking for is a pretty oddball product for a home center to carry. I can't imagine that an electrical supply house wouldn't have what you need, but in case they don't you can get a 100' spool at

http://www.digikey.com/scripts/DkSea...190579&Site=US
 
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Old 12-08-03, 09:48 PM
W
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16 ga thhn is good for 600 volts. Can be found at most hardware stores. You do not need solid wire for wiring ballasts.
 

Last edited by weebee; 12-08-03 at 10:03 PM.
  #8  
Old 12-09-03, 07:37 AM
ejmeier
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Thanks for all of the replies.

I did get my wire, though it is basically impossible to find locally. I called every store under "Wire" in the yellow pages, and got all the way to "S" before I found a company called Sterling wire or something like that. All of the other companies I called either didn't carry what I was looking for, or had a minimum order of around $100 (they dealt with businesses).

Anyway, when I got to the place I had called, they said that they were mistaken and only had a 500ft spool of the wire for $20 instead of the 100ft for $5 that they had told me originally. After telling them I only needed 20 ft of wire, and a long awkward pause, they just gave me the 20 feet of wire for free.

Anyway, after visiting both Home Depot and Menard's, I found that they didn't carry anything above 14 gauge wire, or if they did, it was stranded. I thought that on the fluorescent endcaps, which use a push-in style connection similar to that of regular electrical outlets, the wiring needs to be solid so it doesn't fray and come apart when you push it through the spring-clip thing??? This is, I believe, why pretty much all fluorescent ballasts that I've seen use the solid 18 gauge wire.
 
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Old 12-09-03, 07:45 AM
W
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All you had to do was "tin" the end of the wire, it would have pushed in the lamp holder with no problem. Glad you found what you were looking for.
 
  #10  
Old 12-10-03, 08:08 AM
brickeyee
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The strike voltage of fluorescent lamps is 400-600 V. See
http://www.teccor.com/web/PDF%20Files/Power/an1010.pdf
The sustaining voltage once the arc is struck is much lower, around 60 V.
 
  #11  
Old 12-10-03, 08:45 AM
ejmeier
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Thank you for clearing that up. I am glad that I decided to go with the 600v insulated wire!
 
 

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