Fluorescent Light Keeps Failing

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Old 07-20-10, 10:01 AM
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Fluorescent Light Keeps Failing

I moved into my house 2 years ago. When I moved in there was a recessed fluorescent light fixture in the basement with 2 - 4' bulbs that did not work. I replaced it with a new fixture and about a year later it went bad too. When I say bad, it just stopped working one day no flickering, dim light at the end of the tubes, nothing. So I put in another new fixture and now about a year later that one has gone bad.

I'm assuming 3 bad fixtures is not a coincidence so I'm worried that there is a problem with the wiring to this particular light. What should I be looking for that would cause this type of problem?

I have several of these fixtures in the house and have had no other problems. One of these fixtures is on the same circuit as the one that keeps going bad.

Thanks for your help!!
 
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Old 07-20-10, 10:44 AM
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Can you check the voltage at the fixture? I've heard the fluorescents can be a little sensitive to voltage more than a couple ticks away from 120.
 
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Old 07-31-10, 11:22 AM
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I finally got a chance to test the voltage. It is showing about 121.8. However, the odd thing...at least to me...is that it is showing about 70 volts with the switch off. That's not right is it? The light is on a 3-way switch. What could be causing that?
 
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Old 07-31-10, 12:09 PM
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If you are using a digital meter it is probably phantom voltage. Phantom voltage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
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Old 08-03-10, 09:09 PM
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I was using a digital meter but have since borrowed an analog meter and tested it again. I got the same results...about 70 volts with the switch off. So could that still be phantom voltage?

Not sure if this makes a difference but the wires I'm testing are diconnected from the fixture. The light is on a 3-way switch and it is the only light operated by the switch...one of the switches is lighted and both switches are less than 2 years old.

...but what I am really trying to determine is why this light fixture keeps going bad. If the 70 volt reading with the switch off is not a possible cause are there any ideas what it might be?

Thanks for all your suggestions and quick responses!!
 
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Old 08-04-10, 03:12 AM
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I had to replace one of these at a customers house. The problem was the lighted switch always allowed a trickle of voltage thru so it could light up. The ballast was seeing the reduced voltage, but still tried to startup. Change the ballast and get a different switch.
 
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Old 08-08-10, 11:15 PM
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You should not be getting a voltage reading of 70 volts with a switch in the off position. If thats the case than you do have a wiring issue that needs to be double checked by a licensed electrician.

You could be receiving feedback from another device installed on the same circuit. But you can perform some checks to see if that is the issue. First lets try a basic test to see if the voltage you are reading is true voltage.

Sounds silly but you can test this with a regular incandescent lamp. Place the nuetral to the side of the lamp base and the hot directly on the solder point on the bottom. If the lamp illuminates partially you know this is a true voltage problem. If it does not, it is phantom voltage so to speak.

Secondly, From experience, if you are buying a fluorescent fixture from a home store (Nascar Sponsors) you are buying a fixture with a GEB part number most likely. This stands for Generic Electronic Ballast. These do not tend to last very long and are installed in these fixtures to create a more attractive price. If you keep the existing fixture which is fine and install a commercial grade ballast, Such as Halco, Sylvania, Advance, GE etc, all of those ballasts should perform for a very long time, and all come with a 5 year/60 month warranty.

Check to make sure your lamps are properly installed (not having one end pin rocked out) as this will cause the ballast to rectify and fail prematurely.

Hope that helps.
 
 

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