Flourescents not working in cold weather?

chris_ontNovember 3, 2007


I have two banks of 4 fluorescent tubes (4-foot) in my unheated garage. They are in plain shoplight sort of fixtures.

They don't work in cold weather. Is there a wiring issue, is it the fixture, or is there a bulb that does work in cold weather? It's barely below freezing overnight and they've shut down.

There is a buzzing sound when the light is turned on, and sometimes they will eventually (or some of them anyway) come on, but in the winter I'm not in the garage long enough to find out.

The same thing happened last winter. I planned to replace the tubes in the spring, figuring that they were blown, but they all came back to life when the weather got warmer.

Is this just the nature of these lamps?

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That's the nature of standard fluorescents. Here is a link that explains starting temps for various bulbs, and discusses special ballasts that work at lower temperatures (although these are going to be pricier than a standard fixture, as you'll see when you do a Google search for "low temperature ballast").

Here is a link that might be useful: Fluorescents

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 1:18PM
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The linked site is very good. A trick learned by experimenting is that fluorescent tubes with shatter-protective sleeves often will work better in the cold as the plastic sleeve helps hold heat to the tube. Tubes can be purchased with the sleeves or the sleeves can be purchased for self-installation.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2007 at 3:32PM
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They also make ballasts that are 0 degree and or -20 degree that will work. Just make sure they are for the lamps you have and with the same color leads.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2007 at 12:45PM
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or simply put in a regular fixture that uses an incandescent bulb. leave the FL fistures, but add the el cheapo regular light as an immediate light source. if your lights are the plug in kind, you can buy an adapter for a couple bucks that plugs in any standard outlet and accepts a bulb. during the winter plug it in, during warmer months plug the FL fixture back in. i have them in my shop. a couple 75W bulbs come on immediately, then the FLs kick in a few minutes later.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 10:59AM
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Replacing the ballast to an electronic ballast will correct the problem (as long as you don't live in alaska). As noted above, be sure that the ballast matches the type of lamps that you have on hand and watch for operation / line voltage.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 11:00PM
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