PDA

View Full Version : Bench Testing Fluorescent Ballasts??



chandler0109
09-29-2009, 01:02 PM
Hey Everybody

I'm scrapping out some 120V 4 foot, 4 tube fluorescent fixtures from a demolition, I'm keeping and using the ones that weren't damaged badly, here's my question:

How does one go about bench testing the ballast to determine if it's worth keeping around as spares for the lights I'll be using? I'm finding some replacements in the fixtures, some are the originals. I have no idea how old any of these are, but they all appear to be the "magnetic" type rather than the newer "electronic" units.

Thanks

Chandler

Carld
09-29-2009, 01:11 PM
why can't you test them before you strip them apart?

chandler0109
09-29-2009, 01:18 PM
Thanks Carld

I can't install tubes in the ones I'm scrapping, they have badly damaged sheet metal or broken sockets.

Chandler

Carld
09-29-2009, 01:28 PM
Then put together one good one and switch the ballasts to test them. I have put the end caps and ballasts on a metal bench with a bulb in the end caps and tested them but you do have to have a metal surface to test them on.

garagemark
09-29-2009, 01:33 PM
I'd possibly build a temporary rig for testing if there were many ballsts to test. Find two (or four) good sockets, temporarily screw them to a board, wire them up, and stick a bulb(s) in them. Then just take each ballast and twist it to the wires temporarily. Could even use alligator clips to speed up the process.

Just a thought.

Falcon67
09-29-2009, 05:58 PM
Just a thought - if they for your use, then maybe don't bother. Because there are much better lights and ballasts already available and the older ones will be reduced to eBay fodder. If you are lighting or thinking of adding lights to a shop, you'll be money and power consumption ahead to swtich to T8s at least. I have switched 1/2 my shop and that section uses about 30% less power. Plus they come on in the cold and they make no noise. The ballasts are smaller, run cooler (less cooling load for the AC), wire in easier, etc.

I didn't save any old parts - if the older units go out, they will be replaced with new. No repairs, just not worth it. Penny wise/pound foolish IMHO.

Just something to think about.

J Tiers
09-29-2009, 09:54 PM
A contrary view.....

The somewhat older magnetic ballasts..... the small transformer plus capacitor type..... are considerably more efficient than the REAL old ballasts.

if the old ones are that type, they might be worth testing with lights.

If they are old "big iron" types, probably not, new tubes often won't even work in those.

The new electronic ballasts are glorified CFL ballasts. May not be much more reliable than CFLs, which often tend to die in 3 to 9 months.

And, many CFLs will wipe out AM radio, etc. So may a shop full of E-ballasts. Maybe make enough RFI to fry your brain worse than a cell phone, if you are the worrying type.

lakeside53
09-29-2009, 10:48 PM
:confused: Shops and entire buildings full of T8 "electronic" lamps/ballasts out here.. no interference...no buzz.. start when cold, and in any case, around here you aren't even allowed to sell or install the T12 and older types.

My new shop will have 18 double T8's. The old shop (triple garage) needs the T12 fixtures all replaced - just 20 year old inefficient junk $6 "shop lights" that won't light properly (or at all) below 45 degrees. Oh... spares? those junk lamp ballasts rarely fail...

Bill736
09-29-2009, 10:50 PM
I've been buying some fluorescent light fixtures lately, and I decided to try one of the new T8 fixtures, a Lights of America unit bought from Walmart.
I installed some 32 watt 4100 K (color temperature) bulbs, and I like the light it produces. However, there is one "small" problem. Occasionally, it doesn't work. I've gone online and found that other people have experienced the same problem with this unit, and no amount of fiddling with the bulbs or tapping on the ballast seems to help. There may, however, be a correlation with the phases of the moon. I'd like to hear recommendations from those of you who have purchased more reliable units, for a reasonable price. I paid a whopping $10 for this one , without bulbs. I'd be happy to pay $25 for a reliable unit , with a generous sized reflector. A pull chain switch would be a nice feature.

lakeside53
09-29-2009, 10:56 PM
if you want life, buy commercial grade ballasts. LOA (want to guess how many are made in "Amerca"?) are the low end units.. Of course, you can buy 3 LOA entire fixtures for the price of decent commercial T8 ballast. Entire commercial fixtures are often $100-300 for 4 bulb units... sometimes I get them new on craiglist for $25, but then I usually have to deal with the 277 volt issue.

I've have some circular "CFL" ballasts on LOA fixtures I bought in 1992. Replaced them all about twice ($8 or so.. including shiping..), and one doesn't like to when the room gets hot... I'd replace the fixtures, but they are surface mount and glued themselves to the new soft paint (in 1992...)..:mad:

Falcon67
09-30-2009, 10:03 AM
I bought all of mine at Lowes and a couple of LOAs from Walmart. I have 9 new fixtures and 6 old mag style. No radio interference. The 4x2 fixtures were about $18 each. I've had to replace one ballast out of the new ones over the last year and that was in the 8' fixture. I use 6500K bulbs - lotsa light.

TECHSHOP
09-30-2009, 08:18 PM
I have had on going problems with the newer ballasts. They seem to only last about a year and a half. Some cause RF noise and others are fine. Same maker and part #. I have destroyed a few of the older (puked the black goo) by using the wrong type (not size) bulbs. Most of what I have in the shop and house are hardwired T8. There are a few "corded" T12 shop lights. I opened up one of the "dead" T8 ballasts to peek at the guts. Is there any way to "trouble shoot" the electronics? I don't care to "buy new" every few months, if it all I need to replace is a "low quality" part with something better to have a longer lasting unit.

Don Young
09-30-2009, 10:09 PM
I've been buying some fluorescent light fixtures lately, and I decided to try one of the new T8 fixtures, a Lights of America unit bought from Walmart.
I installed some 32 watt 4100 K (color temperature) bulbs, and I like the light it produces. However, there is one "small" problem. Occasionally, it doesn't work. I've gone online and found that other people have experienced the same problem with this unit, and no amount of fiddling with the bulbs or tapping on the ballast seems to help. There may, however, be a correlation with the phases of the moon. I'd like to hear recommendations from those of you who have purchased more reliable units, for a reasonable price. I paid a whopping $10 for this one , without bulbs. I'd be happy to pay $25 for a reliable unit , with a generous sized reflector. A pull chain switch would be a nice feature.

Some of the fixtures require the metal reflectors to be grounded for reliable starting. They produce a high voltage to a starting electrode on the side of the tube that ionizes the gas over the short distance to the tube wall rather than over the full length of the tube to the other electrode. That may not be your problem but it"s worth checking.

Don Young