Troubleshooting fluorescent fixture

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Old 04-16-15, 03:16 PM
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Troubleshooting fluorescent fixture

In our laundry room I have a four light T12 fixture. The other day, the tubes started flickering, then went out, all but the ends. Replaced all tubes. Almost the same result. Ends are lit. There are two ballasts. Does not seen right that both are bad. No leaking. Have no idea how to check them. Have Greenlee CM450 tester. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you
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Old 04-16-15, 03:30 PM
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Here is what it looks like now.
 
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Old 04-16-15, 09:03 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

The new fluorescent tubes have greatly reduced mercury in them requiring a higher voltage to arc correctly.

I'd recommend changing the two ballasts to a four tube electronic ballast and four F32-T8 tubes.
More light with less power consumption. The sockets in your existing fixture will work with T8 tubes.
 
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Old 04-17-15, 06:40 AM
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Thx PJmax:
I guess it is time to think outside the box. Not sure what or why the voltage is an issue. But will comply. I took a scree shot of a 4 lamp T8 ballast. See if that one should work? Perhaps I should use another model ballast? What do you think; is the one I am showing you OK? As you can tell, I am not skilled in flourescant fixtures. Can you tell me where I can find instructions on removing and installing a ballast. Appreciate your reply. Thanks
Paul
 
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Old 04-17-15, 08:32 AM
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I tried cropping your image and enlarging it enough to be readable but failed. Maybe someone else can read it. Post a link to the ballast.

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Last edited by ray2047; 04-17-15 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 04-17-15, 10:19 AM
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I found a better res pix.
 
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Old 04-17-15, 06:43 PM
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That ballast will work but you will need to pay close attention to the wiring from each socket,it might be easier for you to just use 2 ballasts, your choice!
Geo
 
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Old 04-17-15, 08:41 PM
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The GE432 ballast will work fine. Follow the wiring diagram on the ballast and you should be all set.
 
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Old 04-20-15, 10:37 AM
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Thank you for your input. I am not an electrician. Purchased a GE 432-120RES-DIYB. This is a T8 4 lamp ballast. The enclosed instructions are not much good as the actual installing is not detailed. It refers to the diagram on the ballast. See image on this post. There are six wires coming out of the right side (2 blue, 2 red, and 2 yellow) From the left side are the black live, and white neutral wires. I have a 4 light fixture; On the wiring diagram it appears that there is a wire going to all 8 connections (2 on ea side of each bulb socket. Of course, mathematically, that does not figure.
Option 1 - if I follow the wiring diagram using one side of each socket, I will have enough for 3 bulbs. On the fourth, I could place a jumper in the open socket of the 3rd bulb and place the jumper in one of the two open sockets on the 4th bulb
Option 2 Connect the wires from the ballast (yellow, blue, & red) to one connector in each of the three sockets. Put a jumper wire in the open socket to the open socket in the other three sockets , then jump the third socket to the fourth bulb.

Will any of these options work? If not, would appreciate your help. Thank you.
Paul
 
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Old 04-20-15, 11:29 AM
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Not sure I understand your confusion.
  • The bulbs are wired as pairs. Call them Pair A and Pair B.
  • The two wires from a socket are connected together and form one connection.
  • Color of wires on the socket don't matter.
  • You have two yellow wires. One for each pair of bulbs. Yellow wires are interchangeable between pairs.
Red wires to one pair of bulbs and blue wires to the other pair of bulb.
  • One red wire to bulb 1 of pair A.
  • Other red wire to bulb 2 of pair A.
  • One blue wire to bulb 1 of pair B.
  • Other blue wire to bulb 2 of pair B.

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Old 04-20-15, 01:10 PM
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If you look at Ray's diagram..... the pair B tubes will be in the fixture in the opposite direction.
 
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Old 04-20-15, 03:00 PM
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Please bear with me. I believe my problem is in reading the wiring diagram. I take it that the small black circles are connections. The pix of the bulbs are really the sockets. Taking the yellow wires, as an example, I make one connection from the two wires coming from each socket; then connect these to the main yellow. Same goes for the red and blue. Do I have it now? I am really not as slow as it appears; just want to this right. Thanks.
If I am using push connectors, I will use 3 pin and connect the 2 socket connections to the main wire.
 
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Old 04-20-15, 04:04 PM
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Does this diagram of one of the pairs help?

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Last edited by ray2047; 04-20-15 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 04-20-15, 04:26 PM
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If you look at Ray's diagram..... the pair B tubes will be in the fixture in the opposite direction.
Usually some of the wiring is already joined at the ends. The fixtures are built originally with the common at one end for one pair of tubes and at the other end for the other set of tubes.

Sorry if this added confusion. When you change a lot of ballasts you rely on this to replace the ballasts quicker.
 
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Old 04-20-15, 04:57 PM
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If I am using push connectors, I will use 3 pin and connect the 2 socket connections to the main wire.
I don't know what that means. Just use wire nuts as indicated in the diagram.
 
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Old 04-20-15, 06:19 PM
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Sure would have been easier with 2 ballasts.
Just saying
Geo
 
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Old 04-20-15, 07:21 PM
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Thank you so much for help. My only question is that in this latest diagram the yellow wires are on the left (A) and right sides (A). The original wiring diagram had the yellow all on the left side. Perhaps this had something to do with the last posts explaining the B should be opposite. Although that diagram answered all my questions about connecting the ballast wires to the wires to the socket except for the yellow mix up. Going back to the original, here is a shot of the diagram on the ballast.
 
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Old 04-20-15, 07:33 PM
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The sides of the pairs are interchangeable. You need yellow on one side and either red or blue on the other side. Pete is suggesting the yellow on the left on one pair and the yellow on the right for the other because that is how the wiring in the fixture is usually laid out. Electrically it doesn't matter. You can put the yellow on the same end of both pairs and it will still work.

And to anticipate your next question it doesn't mater which two tubes you choose for a pair. First and last could be one pair. and middle two a pair. We are using the two on top of the diagram as a pair and the two on the bottom of the diagram as a pair to make wiring easy to understand.
 
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Old 04-20-15, 07:39 PM
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Thank you. That clears it up. I will let you know when I install the ballasts and tubes as early as tomorrow. Thanks again
 
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Old 04-21-15, 06:37 AM
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One last question. Grounding. There is a ground wire coming from the wires in the ceiling. Can I use that, or should I ground the ballast by cleaning off the paint around the ends of the ballast and use the screw that holds the ballast to the fixture as a ground. Thanks.
 
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Old 04-21-15, 06:47 AM
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Is there a tapped hole in the fixture for a ground screw? If not use a nut on on one of the studs where one ballast was removed. Generally a ground connection shouldn't be used for any other purpose so using screw that holds the ballast isn't best practice.
 
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Old 04-21-15, 04:15 PM
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Well I did it. My wife is happy. But I am not. The enclosed pix shows that all 4 tubes are not lit in the center. The lights come on real quick and throw off a lot of light. However. I afraid that something was done incorrectly. As all four tubes are lit, does that mean that the wiring (yellow, blue, and Red) are correct?Any thoughts? Thank you.
 
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Old 04-21-15, 04:36 PM
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Are the tubes you used listed on the ballast as tubes that will work with it? Did you attach a ground wire to the fixture? Will the tubes fully light if you touch them with your hand?
 
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Old 04-21-15, 04:44 PM
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I don't know how long you waited to take the picture but the tubes should even up in about a half hour once all the mercury gets redeposited inside the tubes.
 
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Old 04-22-15, 09:28 AM
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From the end of the fixture ,say left end as you are looking up at it there should be 2 yellow wires,take 2 yellow wires from the ballast and connect to them,you may end up with 2 red connected to the color chose from the ballast and 2 blue connected to the other color you chose, from the opposite end of the fixture take the red and blues and connect them to the red wires from the ballast,and do the same from the other end of the fixture,yellow to yellows from the ballast etc.
Geo
 
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Old 04-22-15, 10:44 AM
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PJ you were right. After your post, I went back and turned the lights on. This time they were lit from end to end, including the middle. Thanks again for you ant the rest for all your help.
 
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Old 04-22-15, 11:43 AM
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Glad to be of help. Good job on your part too. Now the wife will be ecstatic.
 
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Old 05-02-15, 08:09 PM
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This was a curious issue. I'm glad the ballast change worked. There are many reason for starting trouble, and seeing the dim white glow that extends only partially across the lamps, I agree with PJmax's original assessment. However, I'll note that while a higher voltage would help, it shouldn't be needed. Officially low mercury tubes do not have a higher OCV requirement (even though they sometimes do in practice). If your ballast is operating to spec (e.g., 3.8V cathode heating on all sockets, OCV of 256+, temperature over 50F, grounded, etc.), they should start. If they won't, don't hesitate to return them, preferably for a different brand (or at least a different store to ensure they're from a different batch). In the old days they put in extra mercury to help prevent these problems, but for environmental and disposal reasons, they don't anymore. So you end up with a few duds every now and then. You can sometimes fix them if you have another fixture with an electronic ballast. Burn them in for a few hours on electronic, then they'll work fine on magnetic from then on. I've repaired three lamps this way. Two are still working, and the other had a slow air leak, so it eventually failed again.
 
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