work shop lighting

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Old 09-29-15, 05:12 AM
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work shop lighting

My primary shop is 1200+ square feet, with 14' ceiling, and is lit with nine 8' t12 double bulb fluorescent fixtures. I have replaced 3 of the original ballasts over the past couple of years, and now have a couple more that need it, so am wondering if it's time to convert to something else. I have maybe a dozen or so new bulbs in the box, so not worried about tomorrow literally, but am thinking ahead a few years, when I may or may not feel like climbing up there and messing with them. (I keep forgetting to climb up and look at one of the newer ballasts, but maybe they will work with t8's, so maybe just need to change the tombstones on those?) So the question is, what is/are my best option(s)? Convert to t8's? Convert to LED? I'm old school, still thinking that fluorescent is the best light, and that's what most of my buddy's have so nothing to compare to, but maybe some of you get into a few more places and have other ideas. Thank you.
 
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Old 09-29-15, 05:31 AM
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I am in the same situation, except mine are 4' doubles. Lately with humid weather and the cold weather coming on, my lights work on their own schedule, so soon I will need to make that decision, too. Although they are pricey, the new LED's are catching my eye. They come in higher color (5500 K), and put out a ton of light, with only a single bulb. You can bypass your existing ballasts for a seamless installation. Just something to think about.
 
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Old 09-29-15, 07:17 AM
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LED's are a neat option but... Our town converted all the stoplights to LEDs. Then I noticed many of the lights had many emitters out in groups... then they were totally out... now my town has no LED stoplights anymore. When riding around and pull up behind a truck with LED lights. Many of them have sections of emitters not working. So for the expense I'm not convinced they are worth it.

I have thirteen 8' twin bulb fluorescents in my shop so replacing them all would be a pretty big expense. As my lights have died I've replaced their magnetic ballasts with electronic ones. They start much better when cold and so far I've not had any of them fail. The conversion can be as the old lights fail, spreading out the work and expense of replacement. And, my lights still use the same bulbs so I don't have to stock two types or throw away my current bulbs.
 
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Old 09-29-15, 09:26 AM
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You've got it, Chandler; the upcoming cold is what got me thinking more about this lately. Even at zero and below, I have not had the trouble with fluorescents that some do, but they definitely get more temperamental as the temperature dips, and every once in a while one or two will take a few minutes to kick on. Dane, yes, the electronic ballasts that I have installed seem markedly better. Are you running T8's or T12's with the new ballasts, because the second half of the issue is whether the electronic ballasts will keep my T12's going measurably longer, or if I should be switching to T8's as I replace ballasts?
 
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Old 09-29-15, 12:51 PM
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I stayed with T12 bulbs since that was what all my fixtures and bulbs were. Switching over would require changing fixtures as changing the lamp holders is somewhat a PITA and an additional expense and would require me to keep two kinds of bulbs on hand. But there is an end coming for T12 so I may have to consider beginning the switch over to something else the next time one of my lights dies.
 
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Old 09-29-15, 02:01 PM
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would also suggest led in your existing fixtures with the ballast bypassed while they are expensive putting in modern t5 fixtures and sticking with fluorescent would be expensive also since your not in any hurry would try led in 1 light instead of replacing the ballast and see how you like it that may help you decide.
 
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Old 10-02-15, 06:58 PM
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There are a few simple solutions that can improve fluorescent performance in less than ideal climate. If starting is unreliable, make sure the fixtures are grounded. If grounding is not enough, run a thin strip of foil tape along the length of the tube (facing the reflector). Just make sure not to bring it all the way to ends, since you don't want it making contact with the pins. If that's too much work, even sticking a couple wads of foil between the lamp and metal reflector might be sufficient. The goal is to improve capacitance to ground, which aids in starting.

Also, don't use reduced wattage lamps, such as 8'/60W and 4'/34W T12, or 4'/28W and 4'/25W T8. They'll operate dim in cold weather, and can be harder to start. HO and VHO are the best for cold temperatures, but they require different ballasts and sockets.

If you need to change a ballast, choose one with a normal to high ballast factor (at least 85 or 90%). Low ballast factor means less lamp power. You'll lose more light than the spec suggest in cold weather given that lower power also means less heat, and less heat results in even dimmer lamps (without any further reduction in electricity usage).

Plastic tube guards can help if the lights are slow to warm up when the temperature is low. Of course all fluorescents are going to take time to warm up when it's cold. Immediate full brightness in any temperature is a major benefit of LED.
 
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Old 10-02-15, 10:39 PM
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You can also look at conversion kits that will convert your fixtures to use 4 4' tubes.
 
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