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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
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    25,692

    Fluorecent lights?

    Despite my best efforts, I'm getting pushed into more and more of this kind of work, and I hate lighting work.


    Anyway, for a long time, I've managed to avoid working on this crap, but I've been getting more and more of it lately.

    I'm looking for some solid troubleshooting info for electronic ballasts and the like.

    I'm tired of the method that I've been using which amounts to trial and error. Change this part, change that part, change all the parts and hope for the best.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Savannah, NY
    Posts
    82
    What info are you looking for? What are the problems you are encountering?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    California
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    2,066
    Isn't it either the lights work or they don't?

    If the light is kinda lit, just barely glowing or flickering. It's either a bad bulb or weak ballast

    I think all a ballast is is a transformer. Power in, power out. The power out should be marked on the Ballast itself. A easy quick test with your meter.

    Incorrect power out= bad ballast

    Correct power out= bad bulb or bulb socket

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phase Loss View Post
    Isn't it either the lights work or they don't?

    If the light is kinda lit, just barely glowing or flickering. It's either a bad bulb or weak ballast


    I think all a ballast is is a transformer. Power in, power out. The power out should be marked on the Ballast itself. A easy quick test with your meter.

    Incorrect power out= bad ballast

    Correct power out= bad bulb or bulb socket
    You'd think that, wouldn't you?

    I got thrown into one on Friday. Hill Phoenix case, T5 bulbs with electronic ballasts.

    Voltage to the ballasts was pretty equal +/- 10v or so at about 490v.

    One lamp on, one lamp off. Dropped the canopy, re-did all the connections to the ends and magically, I had light. No difference in the voltage measured.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    California
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    If voltages were good, maybe the bulbs contacts just needed some wiggling to seat properly in the socket.

    You had one of those situations where you back away slowly and hope it works. Gotta try harder not to work on this stuff

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phase Loss
    If voltages were good, maybe the bulbs contacts just needed some wiggling to seat properly in the socket.

    You had one of those situations where you back away slowly and hope it works. Gotta try harder not to work on this stuff
    Tried the wiggle, wiggle bit. Didn't fly.

    Didn't work until I redid those connections.


    I'm thinking they are pretty sensitive to voltage. Either that or it was some sort of high resistance connection causing some sort of voltage drop.


    Customer insists that all lighting remain at 100% at all times. They employ hack and butcher lighting company and, when they cannot fix it, WE get the call!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    Posts
    76
    I did about 150 new ballasts here, had a few problems. One thing to check is the lampholders. They are a knife-edge connection (normally), and can pull away from the lamp pins over time. Also, electronic ballasts work at 20kHz or so, a nicked wire can cause odd problems. Lastly, yes, ballasts are effectively transformers, electronic units just do the work with a solid state version to provide better power quality among other things.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2,066
    You're working with a funny chain there.

    Most customers are working on lighting reductions!

    And I'm convinced all other trades are idiots.

    Even though us Reefer guys CAN do everything doesn't mean we should have to

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    Posts
    76
    Phase- I'm actually in maintenance, it was a T12 to T8 conversion. The units got beat up over 30 years if use, and so some bad units were expected.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjrobb View Post
    I did about 150 new ballasts here, had a few problems. One thing to check is the lampholders. They are a knife-edge connection (normally), and can pull away from the lamp pins over time. Also, electronic ballasts work at 20kHz or so, a nicked wire can cause odd problems. Lastly, yes, ballasts are effectively transformers, electronic units just do the work with a solid state version to provide better power quality among other things.
    I suspected a frequency component to this whole mess...


    So, is there something that I need to measure? Do I need a better meter?

    If I'm going to do this s**t, I'm going to do it correctly.



    I may be starting at ground zero on this ballast stuff, but I'm a quick study.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phase Loss View Post
    You're working with a funny chain there.

    Most customers are working on lighting reductions!

    And I'm convinced all other trades are idiots.

    Even though us Reefer guys CAN do everything doesn't mean we should have to
    I guess that I phrased that wrong.

    They insist on 100% lighting during peak hours.

    Off peak hours, we shed lighting like everyone else does.

    What I'm meaning is that missing lamps, dim lamps, etc are not acceptable to this customer.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Savannah, NY
    Posts
    82
    Are you replacing ballast and bulbs in existing fixtures or putting in brand new fixtures? If they are existing are you converting them to T5's? If not are you saying that you have new fixtures with bad ballast and bulbs?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
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    Relatively new cases, some still under warranty.

    I tend to get brought in after several attempts by Hack & Butcher to repair, so it is impossible for me to accurately state what the original problem is.

    I've found electronic ballasts not grounded. I've found the wrong ballast used with the wrong tubes. (T8 ballast on T5 tubes). I've found a ton of very poor workmanship which, of course, may be contributing to the problem.

    I'm not trying to retrofit anything, I just want to make what is there work and stay working for as long as it can work.

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