Fluorescent lights sometimes not turning on


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Old 07-23-15, 07:05 AM
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Fluorescent lights sometimes not turning on

At various times, I've had trouble with small fluorescent light fixtures turning on in my kitchen when the master light switch is turned on. The fixtures are all on the same circuit, but only have one bulb per fixture. This has happened occasionally with different kinds of fixtures and various ballasts. These have always been inexpensive-grade. Since the whole fixtures were cheap, presumably the ballasts in them are also. Could such ballasts not perform as well as more expensive ones?

Also, because my fixtures only have one bulb, it seems that my choice of after-market ballasts is small. Can I use a ballast designed for 2 or 3 bulbs with just 1 bulb? The 24" fixture I am trying to get working is a new $20 one from Lowe's. It came with a cool F18T8, but I am using a warm F17T8. (The ballast label says it works with both wattages and many others, as shown in the attachment). I haven't tested the circuit voltage, since I don't have sturdy enough equipment for wall power (or fluorescent light startup voltage).
 
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Old 07-23-15, 07:41 AM
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Would you consider exchanging the fixture for an LED fixture? The new LEDs give much better light & you don't have to worry about ballasts.
 
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Old 07-23-15, 02:18 PM
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I replaced the fluorescent fixtures in my garage with LEDs and it was like jumping from the stone age to the iron age. The tubes themselves cannot be replaced but the advertised life expectancy for them is 45 years.

You may not find suitable options for your application at this time but the variety of LEDs are exploding so I doubt it would be long before something becomes available. If I were you I wouldn't spend any serious money on fluorescents, maybe a few bucks as a stop-gap measure until I found something new but that would be it.
 
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Old 07-24-15, 07:23 PM
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Anyone?

Anyone know the answer to either of my questions?
 
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Old 07-24-15, 08:45 PM
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There is no sure answer. As suggested maybe another type of lighting.
 
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Old 07-24-15, 08:51 PM
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There is always a chance that a cheaper ballast might not work as well but not always. What did you mean by the master light switch? Does each fixture also have an individual switch?

How many fixtures are giving you trouble? My suggestion was to get away from ballasts completely. That's why I mentioned LEDs.
 
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Old 07-25-15, 08:05 AM
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Is the ground connected to the chassis of the lamp? Fluorescents like grounds and will exhibit the conditions you describe when not properly grounded.

Not meaning to steal time, but Meanderthal can you link to the shop lights you changed to? My T12's don't like cold, don't like moisture, don't like heat, don't like me, so I think they are going away, but I have 8 of them.
 
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Old 07-25-15, 04:16 PM
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I agree with @chandler about ground. Unless the fixture was supplied with a two-prong plug, it should be grounded. It'd also be useful to know what helps. Does flipping the switch again cause it to go on. Does touching the bulb get it going? Is it completely dark? That is an electronic ballast, and electronic ballast are typically less susceptible to starting problems, but it can happen. Some but not all dual-lamp ballasts can operate one lamp. It'll only work if the lamps are in parallel. If you change it I'd recommend looking for a single-lamp ballast. Here is a site that sells them. Semperlite | Linear Fluorescent Ballast Search. Just pick 1xF17T8 and find one that will fit.

You should make sure all wire connections on the fixture are secure, particularly those at the sockets. A bad connection at one of the lamp's pins may result in unreliable starting and short lamp life. You say it's new. How new? I'd let the lamp run at least 24 hours before being too concerned about starting issues. Brand new lamps can be harder to start. Although I'll probably be criticized for mentioning it, the simplest fix if there's nothing obviously wrong may be to install an F20T12 instead of an F17T8, provided it will physically fit in your fixture. T12s generally start easier than T8s on a given ballast, both because they have a lower ignition voltage and the larger diameter puts them closer to the grounded metal housing, which aids in starting. Note this is only true with regard to a given ballast. A T12 ballast that has trouble with T12 lamps would have even greater difficulty lighting up a T8. Also, the T12 will not consume more power than a T8 would on the same ballast, but might be slightly dimmer.

LED is another option. If you buy an LED tube rather than a dedicated fixture, purchase one from a reputable manufacturer. I've heard reports of early failures or poor performance with no-name tubes. Philips and Feit Electric both make 2' retrofit LED tubes. Some LED tubes use the existing ballast and others require you to bypass it or install a driver in place of the ballast.
 

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Old 07-27-15, 06:31 AM
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Thanks all for your thoughts. The fixture I am working on has been on frequently over the last couple months. I already have 3 of these fixtures and 3 specifically purchased bulbs, none of which can be returned at this point. The fixture is grounded and connections are good. Power cycling with the switch on the fixture does not cause it to turn on. When I experience this problem it is completely dark. Right now the wall switch turns on 3 individual fluorescent lights, each with its own ballast. Two are old and I have replaced 1 old one with the new one that this post is about. The ballast being used is the one shown in the photo. I don't see anything that would indicate it can power more than 1 bulb. From what I have seen of other ballasts, the one I have is for a single bulb based on its size.
 
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Old 07-27-15, 12:22 PM
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Chandler:

These are the fixtures that I used to replace the fluorescent tubes in my garage:

http://www.amazon.com/Feit-Electric-...9KCFS0HQ66MTBH

I only paid $35 per fixture at Costco.

These are non-dimmable and set up with a cord and plug but if you poke around the interweb you can find dimmable and hard-wired versions too. I have them flush mounted on the ceiling but they can be suspended as well. So far they have been as reliable as gravity.

I apologize for the hijack.
 
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Old 07-29-15, 07:51 PM
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When the problem occurs, do all lights remain out, only this new one, or does it vary? If all, have you tried bypassing the wall switch or installing a new switch? If you don't have any kind of tester, can you connect another device in place of a fixture to test, something simple like an incandescent light socket? You could also try attaching a cord & plug to each of these fixtures and testing them from an outlet on a different circuit.
 
 

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