Older CFL fixture starting troubles

kookoo2April 18, 2013

We have a ceiling fixture, about 18 years old, that uses one CFL. Recently, it has become very temperamental, taking at least several minutes (up to 30) to come on when switched on, and in the past two days, is not coming on at all. I doubt it's just the lamp dying, since I don't know if that would have caused the delayed start. Is it worth investigating replacing the starter? Something else? Or at it's age, would it make more sense to just replace it (hate to do that, though; It was NOT a cheap light fixture then!)

It's like the one in the link, but fluorescent. I couldn't find a link for the fl. one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Progress light fixture

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The ballast could be the issue.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 12:46PM
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What kind of CFL? Replace vs. rehab depends on how much time you have. You can replace the ballast and lamp with like. You can also replace the ballast, lamp and socket with something more modern if you want to fiddle with your favorite lamp.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Most of the florescent lamps that I've had, over the years, failed just exactly as yours did. They would take longer and longer to come on, and those I had in the garage might not come on if it was cold. Replacing ONLY the florescent tubes, has always fixed the problem, so I would try that first.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 6:26AM
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Yes, that seems to be the standard way to trouble-shoot that kind of problem as opposed to a sudden failure.

1)replace starter if there is one (rare these days)
2)if starter replacement does not work, replace lamp
3))if lamp and starter replacement does not work, replace ballast

The trouble with this is that some of the older systems have lamps that have become very expensive. I have a bunch of ancient preheat luminaires under the cabinets in my kitchen. A bad ballast or starter can take out a lamp in short order and the lamps are about $7. I've stopped working on them and I plan to replace them when I get the time.

In the OP's case, I think that the older two-pin CFL ballasts and bulbs are rapidly becoming obsolete. It might be better to upgrade the luminaire to a 4-pin socket, ballast and lamp if the lamp is good quality and loved providing the owner is handy and has the time.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:24AM
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I just got a new lamp (it's a 2-pin gx23 base lamp). I was able to easily remove the old one, but getting the new one in is another story. I don't want to risk a broken tube, but cannot get the lamp into its socket! Any tips on that?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 10:42PM
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"cannot get the lamp into its socket!"

Are you sure it is the correct lamp?

The manufacturers used to use different bases to prevent the wrong lamp form being installed in the wrong fixture (and thus not correctly matching the ballast).

Little things like plastic tabs on different positions on lamps that otherwise appeared identical.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:49AM
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I am positive it's the correct lamp. Everything lines up,and it looks exactly like the one I removed (different brand, but otherwise identical).

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 1:52PM
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Try putting the old lamp back in a time or 2, and see if it goes back in easy, that way you don't break your new light, and you will now whether the problem is the fixture or the new light.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 5:59PM
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I will try that,though it may also be that the old one is "broken in" or loosened from getting it in. We think it was hard to get inserted last time we had to change it, too, though it's been so many years, we don't recall how we finally solved it!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:44PM
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Hold old and new side by side as they would instal and look at the pins and all the plastic tabs that are there.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:10PM
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I did it! After putting the old one in and out, and looking very carefully, I noticed that both pins were smooth on one side, a bit indented on the other. After looking at the new one, (not exactly the same, since one pin is indented on both sides), I worked carefully to align the pins with the holes, with the lamp facing the same direction as the old one, and it went in with just a little push. I don't know if the indents actually matter, or I was just being more careful with lining up holes and pins, but at least it worked. (If the indents are, indeed, relevant, they should say so on the package!). Thanks for all the guidance.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 11:27PM
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