utility light rehab on a budget
I have some ballast and related fluorescent lighting questions and would like a little advice from anyone that knows about long-tube fluorescent fixtures. I would really appreciate it if someone can point me in the right direction.
First, a little about my situation. I bought a house with significant garage and workshop space from the family of a long-retired, deceased electrician. I think that he equipped the place with salvaged commercial-type T12 fluorescent fixtures (including a couple in the house). I have not even examined all of them closely yet. They are all old. I have at least 15 96” single-pin fixtures, double and, at least one, quad tube. I also have a significant number of bipin 48” fixtures, single, double and quad tube.
Over the next few years, I can see myself needing to replace many ballasts. Some of them are shot already and I have disconnected those fixtures for the time being. I think that I should plan on replacing most or all of the ballasts with T8 ballasts. Is this a good idea right out of the gate, or should I just stick with T-12s? Maybe I should can the existing fixtures and buy new ones. If I do that, I would have to make sure I got fixtures with efficient ballasts. I can save some money by buying in bulk if I make the right decisions.
Either way, what kind of ballasts should I get to keep operating and initial costs down? Many of these fixtures will not get much use, at least for a few years, but I do work on the car and other stuff out there so it would be nice to have the lights working. Keep in mind that the temps in my area only go below freezing for a few nights a year.
Let's start with the 96” single pin fixtures. Am I stuck with instant start if stay with single pin tombstones and lamps? Can they be effectively changed over to T8? My understanding of ballasts indicate that the only type of ballasts that I can use with single pin tombstones is instant start . That means that If I want to switch to rapid or programmed start ballasts, I have to change-out the tombstones. Is that correct?
My understanding of the T12 single-pin fixtures is that they are all instant-start, and that chews up the electrodes. This yields very short lamp life if they are turned on and off a lot relative to the use hours. Is that correct? Is that the same for T-8? Should I worry about the lamp life issue at all?
Moving on to the 48” bipin fixtures, Should I change them over to T8? My understanding of T8 ballasts is that they are all rapid and program start except for the ones meant for single pin bulbs. Is that correct? Does anyone have any general or specific recommendations for what to buy?
Some general questions about ballasts:
Programmed start means that you have instant-start efficiency with the long bulb life of rapid start, but ballasts are costly. Is that correct?
If there is room, can I put two, double lamp ballasts in a quad lamp fixture?
What is the difference between ballasts “rated” for commercial vs. residential? I get the impression that the specs are different for electronic noise and for efficiency.
Are electronic, instant start ballasts any better than the older instant start for frequent lamp starts?
How hard is it to replace tombstones and ballasts in existing fixtures? It looks easy, but lots of stuff looks easy and turns out not to be.
Thanks for looking!