Lights for my barn

pamghattenSeptember 8, 2012

I have been looking for more lights for my barn, I'm tired of the flourescent lights that don't want to work when it's damp or cold out.

I do have various spotlights in the barn also, and want to add more, but all I can find are the exterior security lights with motion sensors. Obviously I am looking for the wrong thing.

Anyone know what I should be looking for? I'm trying to do this as inexpensively as possible.

Thanks, Pam

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Pam, long-tube T8 fluorescent lights are going to be your best bet for an economical installation. They need to installed properly and the right ballasts and tubes used. No start when damp indicates that the current luminaires are not grounded properly. How cold does the barn get? Commonly installed lamp/ballast combos can start down to 0F no problem. More specialized ballasts can go lower.

Is this a real barn with animals, or something repurposed for other uses? If you turn on the lights and leave them on for hours, use instant start ballasts. If you do lots of switching on and off, use program start ballasts. If you need good light quality, triphosphor lamps will cost a bit more to get good cir, but it is worth it.

If you have some T12 luminaires already, you can change out the ballasts and tubes, fix the bad grounding and be done with it pretty easily.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:35PM
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That was supposed to be "cri" for color rendering index.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:42PM
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The next alternative would be LED, which probably could cost more up front (depending on the job size).

Ruud lighting (now part of CREE) has had quite a bit of success in industrial lighting.

Here is a link that might be useful: ruud industrial lighting.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:15AM
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Hi guys,

The barn houses my 3 miniature donkeys and various barn cats and gardening equipment. I'm outside Buffalo, NY, so we can get very cold in the winter. Though I am always amazed at how much heat the 3 mini's generate.

The whole barn really needs to be re-wired starting at where it comes from the house. But that is not in the budget right now ... have been slowly improving it over the years, new metal roof, frost proof water source, new doors, tore out the old rotted wood floor and replaced, and added stall mats, etc.

The barn lights are not on for hours at a time .. early morning before I go to work, to feed the donkeys and open their stalls, and then again at the end of the day when it's dark and I clean stalls and put them in for the night. The barn lets in lots of natural light, when it's daylight.

I am the third owner, and the other owners "acquired" items and installed them. Very DIY ... I've had the electrical looked at once, and we ran some new wires for safety reasons.

I need to get through the Fall & Winter and see if re-wiring is in the budget for next year ... the existing flourescents all need to be thrown out. Someone got them second-hand and there is no use trying to "fix" them.

I did more research after I posted this and found that I need a couple more flood lights to get through to next year, and will have to have them installed by my electrician when he comes to do some other work I need done. I was hoping to be able to plug-in a couple new flood lights in 2 areas where there are receptacles in the rafters instead of hiring someone, but I don't find double floodlights that can plug-in.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:31PM
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You may well be throwing out better fluorescent luminaires in your barn than I am changing from T12 to T8 in my garage. It is the economical way to go unless they are physically broken or they do not have a ground wire attached. Even if sockets are broke, they can be replaced for a dollar or so. How many luminaires are you talking about?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Here's a picture ... guess you can tell me .... and these are just some of them, there are probably 3 or 4 more.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 7:17PM
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Step one would be to see if they are grounded properly. You could first look at the cables to be sure that they have a ground conductor. The channels should be relatively easy to open up to see if the ground conductor is hooked to a screw in the sheet metal. That might solve a lot of your problems right off the bat. Corrosion between the ground conductor and the screw that connects it to the metal could be a problem. I'd check the ground with a multimeter to see if it really is grounded.

If all that is OK and the fixture still does not work there is not much point in trying to trouble-shoot them if they are T12 bulbs. Just get some T-8 ballasts on ebay and buy some new T-8 bulbs. You can get good ballasts in quantity for $10 or less each.

Post back if you want to DIY. It is not hard.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 7:40PM
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Hi Pam, this is totally off topic and I apologize that I can't help you in advance with your lighting question, but I SOOOOOOOO much want to see photos of your miniature donkeys.

City dweller here - have never even heard of mini-donkeys and they sound very cute! :-)

Good luck with your lighting project!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:50AM
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ionized - when I have more time in the next few weeks I will take one/some apart and see what they look like inside and make a decision then.

Dandy ... here's a picture of 2 of my mini donks ... very friendly, like big dogs!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 7:46PM
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While you are in there, you should see how the sockets are wired, for instant start or rapid (programmed) start. There should be a diagram on the ballast and it will be labeled with the type, instant or rapid start. We can hope that the labels are still legible. If not, do a search and you can find typical wiring diagrams. Basically, instant start have kind of connection at each end and rapid start have two kinds at each end.

For the use that you described, there is no clear-cut advantage to instant start or programmed start ballasts, I think. Consequently, there is no benefit in working to rewiring the luminaires to change to another type.

Instant start: Little cheaper ballasts and a little less power used. The filaments burn up faster during starts with rough starting method. Best used for long lights-on times application.

Programmed start: Little more expensive ballasts and a little more power used, but lamp life is longer with more gentle starting method if they see frequent starts. Best used for occupancy sensor or other frequently-switched applications.

Cute donkeys. Were they originally bred for mining use?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:12AM
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