Flourescent lighting problem

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  #1  
Old 05-20-01, 02:44 PM
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Hi...around two months ago, I installed three 4-bulb flourescent fixtures in my basement (the ballast cover says hb-234-tp rapid start ballast, if that helps). I used 40 watt bulbs, as recommended. Now, two of the fixtures work fine, but the third is acting up: three of the bulbs are dim and have a wavy/floating appearance. Bulb #4 is dimmer still, almost out completely. Upon switching bulbs #3 & 4, I found the same overall appearance (even with a different bulb, socket #4 remains very dim). So, I presume the bulbs are not the problem. How should I proceed? Thanks! (note: I now notice that the fixture tells me to use rapid start bulbs only; upon inspecting the bulbs, I see no mention of them being rapid start...are most/all bulbs nowadays rapid start?)
 
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Old 05-20-01, 02:58 PM
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Try swapping bulbs from one of the fixtures that are working fine. It really sounds like bad bulbs (if the ends are dark, it's almost certainly bulbs). If it works fine with another, unrelated set of bulbs, relamp the fixture.

Replace them in pairs, the cost savings of buying just one will frustrate you when the other bulb conks out a couple of days or weeks later.

Another thing to check is that the sockets are making good contact with the prongs on the tubes (not a likely problem on 2 month old fixtures, though).

There's really no practical homeowner test for fluorescent fiixture, sadly. It new lamps don't work and the sockets are good, the only thing left is a ballast replacement, and a ballast for a four tube fixture may be nearly as expensive as the fixture (price compare, you may be surprised).
 
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Old 05-20-01, 04:41 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply, Ron...I did as you suggested and it seems to be just a bulb problem. This surprises me - I thought flourescent bulbs are supposed to last awhile (at least longer than 2 months). It seems I have at least two bad ones. Should I look for anything special when shopping for replacements? How about my questions about the 'rapid start' bulbs? Thanks!
 
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Old 05-21-01, 04:41 PM
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I've had amazingly variable life spans from bulbs out of even the same batch (I buy 'em by the case where I work). Every on/off cycle robs fluorescent tubes of a little lifespan. I've seen bulbs in warehouses that never shut off last for _years_. I've seen the same type of bulbs in a residential kitchen crap out in a month. Make sure the fixture is properly grounded, it seems to help.

Those so-called eco-friendly bulbs seem to be worst than most for this. They're not worth the premium price, IMO. Otherwise, the brand name tubes actually seem to be better and last longer on average. In the recent past going for the slightly better tubes cut my replacement rate noticably.

As best I can tell, nearly all of the 4 foot tubes on the market are compatible with the rapid start ballasts. I can't remember the last time I even saw a new starter driven 4 foot fixture.
 
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