ionized_gwApril 4, 2011

I have lots of T12 fluorescent fixtures in my garage and a few more in the house. Some are 4' and some are 8'. I have single, double and 4-tube fixtures. (nope, none with 3 :-) ) Some are bi-pin and some are one-pin on each end. (I think the former owner, an electrician, installed salvaged equipment.) Some of them don't seem to work. How do I trouble-shoot them when they don't light? Can a bad ballast take out lamps Prematurely? Do I bother trouble-shooting them or when they stop working, should I just install T8 ballasts and bulbs? OTOH, should I install a whole new fixture?

I hope to get some experienced points of view.

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The first thing I do is clean the contacts on the tubes and sockets. A good connection can give new life to the fixture whereas a bad one puts resistance in the circuit that the ballast may not be able to overcome.
If a tube is darkened at the ends, it's probably time to be replaced, but I'll check them in a known-good fixture.
A weak connection or weak ballast can result in the tube flickering for an extended time before lighting, if it lights at all, shortening the tube's life.
Replacing the ballast, or the whole fixture, would be next.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 11:40AM
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Thanks, What I want to avoid is the replacing bulbs and burning them out because there is another fault. Do I just have to replace the bulbs, put a date on them and let them fail before I move on to looking for another problem if they go out too fast?

You make me think some more about it. The garage would be considered to be a damp environment. When it is humid, I get a lot of slow or no start. Cleaning the contacts on all of them would probably be a very good idea. Since the space is constricted, does anyone have ideas about how to get into the contacts? Should I just scrape them with a toothpick or something like that?

I have a lot of these in the garage in South Luisiana so it is humid. I could probably grow a good crop of something, ah, maybe herbs, in there.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 1:24PM
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Modern electronic ballasts are vastly improved over the old ones. Modern fluorescent lamps give more light per watt and it's better light.

So, I just don't mess with the old stuff any more. I rip it all out and put in new instant start ballasts and new lamps. If I'm feeling extra ambitious that day, I also wipe down and scuff the fixture cover, then hose on a quick coat or two of fresh white heat resistant spray paint.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 12:18AM
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Thanks, I have started to come to the same conclusion after starting to read this:


I think that my strategy will be to go give all the contacts a cleaning. Is dielectric grease a good idea after cleaning? Then I will move over to T8 as things break. I started dating the tubes a while ago. I guess that if they get black prematurely, I will assume that a new ballast is needed and upgrade the existing luminaire to T8.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 12:19PM
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