Who to fix flourescent light fixtures?

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Old 07-27-18, 01:00 PM
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Question Who to fix flourescent light fixtures?

I have flourescent light fixtures from the late 60s throughout my house. Sometimes both bulbs come on OK. Sometimes one bulb comes on OK. Sometimes no bulbs come on. They seem to rotate between working and not working over the months and years. Sometimes they start working again if I leave them on a few days. Sometimes they work better if I replace the bulbs. It's definitely not the bulbs though. It doesn't work consistently even with new bulbs.

What kind of service do I need that is expert in repairing these kinds of fixtures?
 
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Old 07-27-18, 01:23 PM
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Short answer is get them replaced with LED's. Your fixtures are old and outdated. The starters and/or ballast are shot. It's not cost effective to have your existing units repaired.
 
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Old 07-27-18, 02:10 PM
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Thank you. What kind of service would replace them with LEDs?
 
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Old 07-27-18, 02:12 PM
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An electrician! Unless you or someone you know is handy enough to be able to handle light fixture replacement.
 
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Old 08-03-18, 10:36 AM
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Question I can do this. How do I tell what kind of fixtures I have and get right parts?

I can do this.

I see videos and instructions that look easy enough to follow on the web and videos such as YouTube. Some are for setting up to use LEDs instead of Flourescents, some are for replacing balasts so you can keep using flourescents, and some are for setting up so you can use LEDs and Flourescents interchangeably.

Where do I look on these lights and what do I look for to know what make model and spec light fixtures I have? How do I make sure I am getting compatible parts for whichever approach I plan to use?

I have an investment in flourescent bulbs so if I can simply replace/upgrade to new balasts (I'll try one light first) that would be great.

Any guidance is much appreciated.
 
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Old 08-03-18, 10:49 AM
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First you need to identify what type of fluorescent bulb your fixture takes. Most are easy to spot just by looking at them like an 8' or 4' long tube. Then you can pick an LED replacement. I prefer the type that are directly powered and do not require a ballast. Then it's a matter of following the instructions to re-wire your fixture which is really easy. There are two common ways. One method you wire both the hot and neutral to one end of the bulb. The other method you wire hot to one end and neutral to the other. With both you disconnect or throw away the fluorescent light ballast.
 
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Old 08-03-18, 11:32 AM
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I have an investment in flourescent bulbs so if I can simply replace/upgrade to new balasts (I'll try one light first) that would be great.
OK, guys, it looks like the TS wants to use his existing inventory of bulbs, so ballast replacement looks like the path to follow.

David, look at your existing ballast and find the model or type number. Replace with the same model/type.

A photo of your fixture will help us help you.
 

Last edited by Wirepuller38; 08-03-18 at 11:34 AM. Reason: Added text.
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Old 08-03-18, 11:33 AM
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Maybe you ran into this already in the videos. and not to confuse the issue, but here's a couple of things that might help you sort things out. If you do eliminate the ballasts, which I agree with doing by the way, you'll use LED bulbs with drivers. You can use bulbs with or without drivers if you use ballasts, but if you eliminate the ballasts you need the drivers. And the drivers are internal of the bulbs, so no additional wiring. As far as your tombstones, or sockets, there are two types; shunted and non-shunted. With shunted sockets, the contacts at each end are continuous, so your hot needs to go to one end of the bulb and the neutral to the other end. With non-shunted sockets the contacts at each end are not continuous, they are separate from each other, with separate holes where you can attach your wires, so with this style you can run your hot and neutral both into the same end. You don't need to worry about this as far as choosing bulbs because they will work either way, but you do need to know that you have a hot and a neutral to each bulb and that they are not wired as a dead short into a shunted socket.
 
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Old 08-05-18, 01:17 PM
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Question photos of information in area of ballasts

Here is what I can see without taking the light fixtures apart to get to the ballasts within.

So I imagine I cut the juice, take out the bulbs, remove all the screws I see, remove the outer plates, take pictures of the labeled information on the ballasts, upload those pics and you can give me further guidance on what I need?
 
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Old 08-05-18, 05:19 PM
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Your ballast might be on the fritz, but not necessarily. Your 2' F20 lamps have starters (those small cylindrical cans). If they are slow to start, that is likely the culprit. They simply twist out and can be obtained from most hardware stores for a couple of bucks. Use type FS-2. Starters fail more frequently than ballasts.

I can't see whether your 4' F40 fixtures has starters. If so, you'd use an FS-4. However, most larger fixtures in the U.S. changed to rapid start starting in the 1960s. Smaller 120V fixtures and European 230V fixtures kept the starter design longer do to their ability to use simple choke ballasts, making the rapid start option more costly by comparison.

Anyway, if your 4' fixture does not have a starter, make sure it is grounded, either with a ground wire or conduit. If you have a tester, make sure it has continuity between the housing and ground. Ensure all lead wires to the sockets are snug, and socket contacts and lamp pins are not corroded. Rapid start fixtures may not start reliably if they are not grounded, it is is too cold or, it is too humid.

There is a trick to make rapid start lamps start more dependably if you're feeling adventurous, involving a foil strip. See Florescent Light does not start when Humidly is high.
I've had success with this myself, though it does come with a potential hazard should the strip become electrified, so be careful if you try it.

If you do truly have a bad ballast and want to be able to use up your existing tubes, open the fixtures and look for a new ballast that lists the type (e.g., F20T12 or F40T12) and number of lamps, and will fit the existing mounting holes. If you can't get one that fits exactly, drilling new holes isn't generally an issue. Make sure to match the wiring diagram on the new ballast, which might be different. Note electronic ballasts do tend to start reliably in adverse conditions, and they'll operate more efficiently.
 
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Old 08-07-18, 12:54 PM
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Question Follow-up question

In response to:

Anyway, if your 4' fixture does not have a starter, make sure it is grounded, either with a ground wire or conduit. If you have a tester, make sure it has continuity between the housing and ground. Ensure all lead wires to the sockets are snug, and socket contacts and lamp pins are not corroded. Rapid start fixtures may not start reliably if they are not grounded, it is is too cold or, it is too humid.

What do I look for to make sure it is grounded? Is this after I unscrew covers for the outer fixture that cover the ballast?

What kind of tester do I need? How do I use it to get the results you mention?
 
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Old 08-10-18, 09:55 AM
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Visually you could look to see if there is a bare or green ground wire connected to the fixture housing, or that the fixture is attached to metal conduit. You might not want to bother with a tester if you don't have one already. However, if you do have a multimeter, you could confirm the ground either by checking for continuity between the fixture body and a known ground or checking for voltage between hot and the fixture. It'd be much like when testing an outlet, a meter will read 120 in voltage mode between the small slot ground hole or beep/show zero ohms between two ground holes in continuity/resistance mode.

I'm assuming you're having the problem where the tubes don't light unless you flip the switch multiple times, or they pop on simultaneously after a long delay or after touching them. If the tubes rapidly burn out (darken at one end), or the lamps cycle on and off, then you have a different issue.

If you have a multimeter you can also check that the ballast voltages are in line, though note that some modern electronic ballast use voltages that might exceed the meters rating. On an old rapid start F40 ballast, you should see about 265V between red & blue, and 3.8V between each pair of the same color. You can test at the sockets if you know how they're wired. You may not want to bother with this, but I've included it for reference.

Although it's always good for safety reasons that the fixture be grounded, new electronic ballasts will function without being grounded. Also LED tubes will work without ground, even the type which use your existing ballast.
 

Last edited by pjcpc1; 08-10-18 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 08-11-18, 05:07 AM
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I would not mess around with those lamps/ballasts (T12 and starters) as they are very old tech. It is fairly easy to convert these fixtures to direct drive LED lamps. The hardest part is finding a good deal on the proper lamps. Here is one I found that are similar to your current 24" lamps: https://www.1000bulbs.com/product/20...IVE-28415.html


I have used this brand with good results, but better options may be out there. It will just take some digging around the net. Just make sure the new lamps are direct drive or bypass, and feed each end of the lamp so you do not have to change the sockets.
 
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