Open box above fluorescent?

Reply

  #1  
Old 02-21-11, 04:40 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
Open box above fluorescent?

I'm installing T-8 fixtures that screw to a ceiling to replace previous incandescent fixtures in my garage. Per the instructions, I'm installing electrical boxes in the ceiling to hold the connections. My question is whether the box should remain open above the fixture or if it is supposed to have some sort of lid on it that the wiring to the light runs through. The way the fixture is designed there will be about a 1/8" gap between the fixture and the ceiling/bottom edge of the box.

Also, am I missing something or do I really need to buy a $30 holesaw to cut the holes for the boxes (ceiling is plywood)? Can I just mount receptacle boxes to the ceiliing surface from above with a small hole for the wiring to exit to the fixtures?
 

Last edited by suobs; 02-21-11 at 04:59 AM.
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 02-21-11, 05:16 AM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
You can just buy surface mounted 4x4 Handy boxes, and use a short piece of MC for a whip. Do not forget the anti-short.
 
  #3  
Old 02-21-11, 05:56 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
Justin, sorry but I'll need a translation on that one.

Whip?
MC?
Anti-short is the ground?

4x4 Handy is a square outlet box? It mounts above the ceiling? Does it need a full-size hole in the ceiling and do I need to cap it with a lid or something to enclose the connections? Are you saying to run the light wires through a small hole in the ceiling and make the connections in a box (any shape) in the attic, which would have a lid?
 
  #4  
Old 02-21-11, 06:31 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,360
It will be easier just to use the fixture as the junction box and make the splices under the ballast cover. If a box is mounted above the fixture you need access to the entire face of the box.
 
  #5  
Old 02-21-11, 07:50 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
Definitely easier, but the mfrs instructions say to do the connections in a box. Plus the ballast is 2 feet from the punchout and there's no room behind it (T8).
 
  #6  
Old 02-21-11, 10:50 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: usa
Posts: 243
On my garage I simply ran 12/2 romex and used 4" square junction boxes with 4" blank covers. MC is fine (metal clad cable) and MC would be prefered for garages with the protective armor....that being said if it is for your use and there are no local code restrictions romex should do OK.
 
  #7  
Old 02-21-11, 11:27 AM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
MC looks more professional, that Is why I say use that. A 4x4 handy box is a junction box that can get surface mounted and has rounded edges. A whip is a short piece of cable. An anti-short Is a red piece of plastic inserted at the ends of MC to keep the sharp ends from cutting into the wire insulation.

This may be helpful for future reference. TradeSlang Electrical Home Page
 
  #8  
Old 02-21-11, 03:36 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
It almost sounds like the consensus is to splice a length of Romex (a whip) to the light wires inside the fixture, then run the Romex through a hole in the ceiling to a box in the attic, then make the connectons with the existing wiring? How is that different from bringing the existing Romex down into the fixture and splicing it there (except that there's one more connection per wire)? The manufacturer says not to splice in the fixture, giving me the impression that it's not up to code.

My original question was whether a round fixture box in the ceiling should be left open - because the T8 fixture does not press up against it. There would be a 1/8" - 1/4" gap between the open box and the surface of the fixture, with exposed light wires going from the light to the box, and splices in the box with no covering. They would end up dangling on the top surface of the fixture. So the question was whether that's OK or not.

What I'm trying to figure out now is whether splicing in the fixture is OK so I can bypass using a box completely. Is it?
 
  #9  
Old 02-21-11, 06:08 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
What I'm trying to figure out now is whether splicing in the fixture is OK so I can bypass using a box completely.
Typically, the splice to the fixture conductors is made inside the fixture, you really don't need any other boxes. But, if you already have boxes from the previous incandescent fixtures from which to feed the new fixtures, I wouldn't recommend covering them with the new fixtures because access to the boxes is now limited. In this case, I'd install a whip from the existing boxes to the new fixtures and install a blank cover on the boxes. Who is the manufacturer of the new fixtures? Are these new fixtures 1 or 2 lamp strips? Have a catalog number on them?
 
  #10  
Old 02-21-11, 06:57 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
There are no existing boxes. In fact, that's the problem! The previous were incandescent 2-bulb ceiling lights with the splices made in the base of the fixture. The Romex just goes through the ceiling. But incandescent ceiling lights usually seem made for splicing inside the base. Whether it's legal or not I don't know.

The new guys are Lithonia Lighting WrapLights #3348 (Home Depot). 2-bulb strips, 48". There are six of them, hence my interest in making it as simple as possible.
 
  #11  
Old 02-22-11, 05:52 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
I don't see the problem unless the remaining romex tails aren't long enough to reach into the fixture for splicing. If so, you'll need a junction box (and cover) to splice the tails and feed the new fixtures.
 
  #12  
Old 02-22-11, 05:56 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
Lithonia Lighting WrapLights #3348 (Home Depot
I hope this isn't what you bought.

Fluorescent Ceiling Light Fixtures Sold Exclusively at Home Depot Recalled by Lithonia Lighting Due to Shock Hazard
 
  #13  
Old 02-22-11, 06:43 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
So to wrap it up, sorry if I'm being dumb, but there's no code problem in making the connections with both the power source cable and and the next light all inside the fixture, right? Although I'm still not sure there's enough existing cable or enough room. Either way, even if they fit the splices would probably have to lay on a bulb.

If there's not enough room or enough cable I should splice a length of cable to the light wires, run it through the punchout (which is like 3/4" in diameter for some reason), then through the ceiling, then splice it inside a closed box in the attic to the cable from the upstream light and the cable running to the next light. Right?

And of course there's no problem with covering the boxes with loose-fill insulation. Correct?
 
  #14  
Old 02-22-11, 06:46 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
No. Big difference, the end caps on the ones I have are not nickel. And the model number's different. Those must be the dangerously stylish version.
 
  #15  
Old 02-22-11, 06:55 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
Those must be the dangerously stylish version.
LOL!!!..... .....
 
  #16  
Old 02-22-11, 07:05 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,360
I don't see the reason the instructions call for a separate box. I don't see what the hazard would be making the splice inside the wiring compartment with the ballast.

The knockout is sized for a standard cable connector.
 
  #17  
Old 02-22-11, 07:33 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
You're losing me again . . . Is the wiring compartment the bulb compartment? The ballast is like 1"x1"x4" so they're not going in there. The rest of the fixture seems like it will be taken up with bulbs, but I'll see how it works.

BTW, I just noticed the light wires are enclosed in what looks like a loose white fabric sleeve. Out of sheer laziness, can this "cable" be run up through the ceiling hole to the box, avoiding two whip connections per light?

And the punchout should have a cable clamp or something installed in it, whatever they're called?
 
  #18  
Old 02-23-11, 05:01 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,360
Here is a typical fluorescent fixture wiring.

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:A...hJu1BQ8WbaL6EQ

Yes a clamp is needed. If you decide to use a box above the fixture you would need a 4" hole in the back of the fixture to allow access to the junction box.
 
  #19  
Old 02-23-11, 05:18 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
Originally Posted by suobs View Post
So to wrap it up, sorry if I'm being dumb, but there's no code problem in making the connections with both the power source cable and and the next light all inside the fixture, right? Although I'm still not sure there's enough existing cable or enough room. Either way, even if they fit the splices would probably have to lay on a bulb.

If there's not enough room or enough cable I should splice a length of cable to the light wires, run it through the punchout (which is like 3/4" in diameter for some reason), then through the ceiling, then splice it inside a closed box in the attic to the cable from the upstream light and the cable running to the next light. Right?

And of course there's no problem with covering the boxes with loose-fill insulation. Correct?
It's hard to imagine what you are talking about without looking up the fixture, but you have yet to give us the manufacturer's catalog number. The ballast and wiring compartment is typicaly separated by a metal panel. We are suggesting to you that the normal wiring method is to splice in that wiring compartment, not where the splice will lay on a bulb. The punchout you refer to is a 7/8" knockout for a standard romex connector that will accept branch circuit wiring and yes, it need to have a cable clamp so the sharp edges of the metal housing are bushed to protect the cable. Yes, if you need to add a junction box to extend the cable, it can be covered with insulation, but must have a cover.
 
  #20  
Old 02-23-11, 06:08 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
I don't know what you mean by a "catalog number" but the mfr and model number were in my email a few days ago:

Originally Posted by suobs View Post
The new guys are Lithonia Lighting WrapLights #3348 (Home Depot). 2-bulb strips, 48". There are six of them, hence my interest in making it as simple as possible.
 
  #21  
Old 02-23-11, 06:36 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
Originally Posted by suobs View Post
I don't know what you mean by a "catalog number" but the mfr and model number were in my email a few days ago:
Sorry, 3348 didn't look like a Lithonia catalog number, I took it to be a Home Depot stock number, but I found it.

Lithonia Lighting - The best value in lighting

Series ballast operation and sleeved leads eliminate need for channel cover.
They don't get any cheaper than this.
 
  #22  
Old 02-23-11, 07:19 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
There's no wiring compartment separated by a metal panel. There's a 1x1x6" electronic ballast at one end placed between the two bulbs. Unless the connections go between or on top of the bulbs, I guess they can't be in the fixture. In fact I'm now wondering if there's even room to splice a whip to the light wires inside the fixture. If I did, it would have to contact a bulb. And I guess all this is why the mfr specifies the connections be made in a box.

Nobody answered my question about running the light wires (in their fabric sheath) up through the ceiling hole to the box. But now I see it's not long enough. It's meant to just reach an open box immediately above the fixture punchout. So I guess I'm back to a 4" hole saw and round boxes.

I might just go exchange these $20 lights for the $60 version, although that seems ridiculous.
 
  #23  
Old 02-23-11, 07:36 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,659
Can you post a picture or two. I tried to find something on line but really came up with nothing. http://forum.doityourself.com/electr...your-post.html
 
  #24  
Old 02-24-11, 04:47 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
Here they are.


 
  #25  
Old 02-24-11, 04:58 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
The only alternative I can think of is to splice a whip to the light wire close to the ballast and run it down the same path the light wire takes to the punchout. Still, the splice would be above/between the bulbs.

And yes, they're the cheapest available! What's a channel cover?
 
  #26  
Old 02-24-11, 06:24 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: usa
Posts: 243
A typical commercial light similar to that would have a metal channell cover that would snap into the body, covering the ballast and giving you room to splice into wire. The plastic cover would then cover that up. Sad to say but these companies now make residential crap that has chinese cheapo ballasts and no wiring compartment. Gets the price down alright but more of a pain to deal with. I am curious what the directions on this fixture suggest about connecting inside the fixture....
 
  #27  
Old 02-24-11, 06:33 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: usa
Posts: 243
http://www.cooperlighting.com/specfi...7_WN_2L_T8.pdf

Take a look at this fixture. Metalux WN232UNV, more what you really need. Uses a better ballast, better built, easier to install, and you can get parts for them. Should not cost more than 40-45 dollars each, without lamps. Lithonia makes a similar one as well. Sometimes the best thing to do is scrap plan A and get something better. When those chinese ballasts fail you will have to rewire them too most likely. Get a good fixture, perhaps even an open strip light.
 
  #28  
Old 02-24-11, 06:19 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
QUESTION:
Originally Posted by JimElectric View Post
I am curious what the directions on this fixture suggest about connecting inside the fixture....
ANSWER:
Originally Posted by suobs View Post
. . . the mfrs instructions say to do the connections in a box.
FILLER TO MAKE THE POST LONG ENOUGH: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
 
  #29  
Old 02-24-11, 06:27 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
Originally Posted by JimElectric View Post
Take a look at this fixture. Metalux WN232UNV, more what you really need . . . better ballast, better built, easier to install
Why are they easier to install? The consensus seems to be that mine are crap, but why? It looks to me like the ballast on the Metalux is between the lamps and the lamps run the entire length of the fixture (same design), therefore there's no "wiring compartment". I don't see anything about wiring inside the fixture, so there's no indication that I won't have the same installation issues . . . And it doesn't say where the ballasts were made. In fact it doesn't say anything I can understand about the ballast at all. To my untrained eye the fixture looks amost identical.

What are the features that distinguish this one as a better light, other than the price?

What's an open strip light? You mean the ones that hang from chains and you have to buy a lens cover separately? They all seem to have outlet plugs.
 

Last edited by suobs; 02-24-11 at 06:54 PM.
  #30  
Old 02-24-11, 07:25 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
It says on the pdf it has a wiring compartment cover.
 
  #31  
Old 02-25-11, 08:43 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: usa
Posts: 243
The reason they are easier is that the wiring chanel lets you wire inside the fixture, and you can go from one fixture to another to another. They also have more room to work with. Lastly they have good ballasts that you can replace with ease years from now, rather than the Chinese imports, that can fail quickly and cannot be found. A strip light is simply an open fixture that has no cover. Popular with garages (I have them), available in 4' and 8' lengths. The bulbs are open to damage since they have no cover but I have never had problems with them. Just a suggestion.
http://www.cooperlighting.com/specfi...F090671_SS.pdf
 
  #32  
Old 02-25-11, 01:03 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
When I rewired the scout cabin I was able to re-use the old 1970s? lights and just install new ballasts. you wont be able to do that with those lithoma ones.
 
  #33  
Old 02-25-11, 05:31 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
The consensus seems to be that mine are crap, but why?
That's one way to put it. Those fixtures are Lithonia branded, but not made by Lithonia. They are manufactured by a company in China with components made in China. They also have a poor design, but the price is right!
 
  #34  
Old 02-25-11, 07:41 PM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
I just had an idea about running a nipple between the light and a box in the attic, with the fiberglass running through the nipple.
 
  #35  
Old 02-25-11, 08:20 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
I don't know if you guys are aware of it but you're specifying stuff that's not real obvious, i.e. not really made clear by the manufacturers or the stores . Maybe it's in the fine print on a mfr's pdf but not something you can take shopping.

I went to Lowes. Strip lights and open shop lights all had plugs. Don't want exposed bulbs due to swinging lumber. None of the products said anywhere on the packaging whether there's a wiring compartment or wiring channel or not. None of them says where the ballast is made. All say "assembled in the USA" on the package, so you have to assume something in there is made elsewhere.

The innards are not visible on the displays and the mfr and store choose to not let you know about any of the stuff that you guys are concerned about , so I endured dirty looks from the sales guys, pulled out the pocket knife , and started opening boxes. Then of course I had to take the wraps off to find the instructions and do further disassembly to expose the ballasts for clues about country of origin. Unfortunately I didn't have my reading glasses so I never figured out where any of the ballasts were made (although it seems hard to believe that any of them are not made in China). Of course none of my samples would fit back in the box, so I left the repackaging to the pros. I may not visit that particular store for awhile.

What a mess, but I finally figured out what you mean by a wiring channel , which must be the compartment in the more expensive lights that runs down the fixture between the bulbs and opens. There's wiring in there!

The store should be happy despite the mess : because I bought three $70 lights (4 ft, 4 bulbs each). I figured if I spend over twice as much they might pass muster with you guys. Unfortunately I got them home, Googled them, and found they don't exist on the Internet, even at Lowes (Utilitech model #86723). In fact, I'm not sure the company exists! :NO NO NO: So I can't run them by you for approval! They do say "Commercial grade" which sounds like a good thing.

Anyway, I've gotten to another weekend and I'm still not sure I'm ready to install something I planned to take care of 3 weeks ago . . .

Bottom line remaining questions:
  • Are these decent lights? Conversely, should I have gone with the less pricey but less cool "Residential Grade"?
  • Can I do all wiring in the wiring channel, thus skipping boxes completely? By all wiring I mean connecting the light to both the source cable and the cable to the next light. These instructions don't really say not to do that, but they do show in pictures the wiring being done in a round box.
  • Should I give up and get an oil lamp?

Thanks for your help!
 

Last edited by suobs; 02-25-11 at 09:11 PM.
  #36  
Old 02-26-11, 12:50 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: NE Wis / Paris France{ In France for now }
Posts: 4,808
Ok I can see where this going however with my experince with both Americiaé and European verison I don't have major issuse with good quality luminaires.

The wrap around normally I use them where there will be no damage to the lens { the cheap warparound luminarie have very weak lens cover and it can crack if not carefull.

Other thing I did see eariler you mention resdentail verison that is slightly cheaper than commercal veirson for couple reason you will see in a second why.,

• Commercal verison will have much brighter lights level than resdental verison due the ballast factor.

• Commercal and some good resdentail strip luminaire if you are worry about the bulb get damaged there is two way you can do this one is get a wirecage wrap around that will be my first choice other choice is get shatterproof bulbs which it is a plastique coated bulb so if you hit it it will shatter but it will stay in the place without glass flying allover the place.

The shatterproof bulbs I know it cost more than plan jane tubes are but they justifty the cost where you will expect to get it hit { and in commercal we are required to have shatterproof or sleeved bulbs over the food serving area }

I know I did mention sleeves they have them in hardwire or big box store but it will be might tighter to install them but they work good { yeah if you are lucky you can find other colour sleeves to suit your mood }

A good qualitny luminaire will have decent wire compartment cover.

And nice thing they have good grade ballast in there and the electronic ballast is getting better nowdays

With electronique verison you can mount right on the ceiling without issue the only time you will have to leave a space is High output that the only one need space to keep their ballast cool.

Merci.
Marc
 
  #37  
Old 02-26-11, 07:51 AM
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: usa
Posts: 243
That is why I hate big box stores.....that is another Chinese import line. It used to be they carried the same fixures as most normal electrical distributors, Amercian made, like the company I work for. They gave us fits on pricing as they bought in truck loads, but now they are moving more and more to offshore stuff. I am not saying they are total junk though, but I read ratings from Lowes custromer and they were mixed. Usual problem, early failure on the ballasts. That is normal with shoddy Chinese ballasts. However some loved them. Ease of installation, looks etc. You can always rewire them later if needed for new ballasts. So go with them. Better than what you had.
 
  #38  
Old 02-26-11, 08:05 AM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
Should I give up and get an oil lamp?
Nah, oil prices are about to skyrocket!!
 
  #39  
Old 02-26-11, 08:46 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: South Florida
Posts: 1,164
The ballasts on my new $70 deals are labeled "Keystone Technologies LLC" with an address in Pennsylvania. Stamped on the side of the ballast assembly is "Made in China".

Gee I wonder if they're trying to circumvent the concerns about Chinese electronics expressed on this list . . . Utilitech is "Distributed by American Fluorescent", but that company also seems to be in hiding on the Web (not present). I like the "American" in the company name.

It's a shell game . . . I might go back to Lowes and open a few dozen more boxes just for revenge.

Is there a national or regional chain that carries better brands? I'm in south Florida. What are the better brands anyway?
 

Last edited by suobs; 02-26-11 at 09:16 AM.
  #40  
Old 02-26-11, 09:41 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,213
I can think of a few brands sold at supply houses such as Cooper Metalux, Lithonia, Columbia, Williams, Lightolier and LSI. By the way, almost all manufacturers have cheaper big box grades too, but don't always show them in their catalogs and you generally won't find them at a supply house. There are a lot of unknown brand name ballasts from China (many names from one or two manufacturers) that even some major fixture manufacturers are starting to use such as Workhorse. Lightolier has fallen into this trap. The best ballasts I usually see are Advance and Universal Magnetec, but even these two brands are almost exclusively made in Mexico now. That being said, a "Made in Mexico" ballast is far superior to any I have seen from China.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'