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Old 10-08-2012, 11:29 PM   #1
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


Hi there, I have some 4 foot strip lights (2 t12 lamps each fixture) in my attic and have had them for about 8 years. About a month ago, ALL the fixtures except ONE burned the ballasts out. One fixture even smoked so bad and melted all that black stuff out of the ballast. So I bought a few replacement fixtures (cheaper than buying ballasts), and when plugged in, the fixture location that was melting the ballast did it again! I put my wiggy across hot and neut and have 110 volts, any ideas guys? By the way, I am an electrician myself, had 5 years apprenticeship and 14 years experience so im not reading the tester wrong or anything like that. Loose neutral maybe?

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Old 10-09-2012, 07:09 AM   #2
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


I think you'll need more than a wiggens type meter, I believe that you need to check for resistance in the circuit.

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Old 10-09-2012, 08:02 AM   #3
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


How long (minutes? seconds?) did it taek for the ballast to burn up?

Observe the meter for several minutes as the light fixture is first turned on.

A loose neutral is a very strong possibility.
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:16 AM   #4
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


Anything else in the house messing up?
What else is on that circut?
Any lights in the house acting weird, eg. burning brighter then dim when something else comes on?
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:34 PM   #5
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


Ahh, why bother tracking down a loose neutral when you can just install some 120/277 ballasts and then have a cold one
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Old 10-09-2012, 07:24 PM   #6
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


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Ahh, why bother tracking down a loose neutral when you can just install some 120/277 ballasts and then have a cold one
They will not work on fluctuating voltage anywhere from 120 to 277 volts; you must connect the wires to selected terminals on the ballasts depending on the supply voltage desired.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:06 AM   #7
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They will not work on fluctuating voltage anywhere from 120 to 277 volts; you must connect the wires to selected terminals on the ballasts depending on the supply voltage desired.
I hoped that it was clear that my comment was intended to be amusing, even without the

Although they are certainly not intended to operating on faulty circuits, I have a couple of boxes of ballasts at home that have one set of lead wires that will operate just fine at between 120 and 277V, including 120, 208, 240 and 277V.

OP, All kidding aside, this looks like a vexing problem. The lights were not left on in a particularly hot attic in an event like had not happened before where they? I can see how that might smoke the first set. That still leaves explaining the second burning up. Two different causes on the same circuit are unlikely....

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:38 PM   #8
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


Too hot,Too cold?
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:09 AM   #9
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


ok the ballast began to smoke and make a sizzle sound immediately, I unplugged it after about ten seconds. When my attic DOES get too hot, and the lights are on, there are thermals within the ballasts which seem to go open and shut off the fixture, and as they cool down, they will come back on by themselves without me having to manually push a button or anything like that. But the attic was not hot at the time of the smoke show. I have tried different lamps which were working within two minutes before in another identical fixture, so it is definitely related to that location, but smoked with two different fixtures and different , known good lamps. I am going to use my fluke 87 on the location and try yet another ballast. I have not given up yet guys, and I will let you all know what happened. BTW- at each fixture, I am piped in EMT to a junction box with a raised cover with a single duplex receptacle because these lights came with cord and plug type of connections. Home depot DIY cheap stuff. Am now about to retrofit a high quality ballast to this area and see what happens. When I plug an incandescent fixture there all is well and the light burns normally. To answer another posters question, most of the lighting is on this same circut, and no other fixtures in the house have any problems, it is the attic fixtures that all burnt out same time. More later. and thanks guys so much for your input, all of you.
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:20 AM   #10
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


Allan, you are correct stating that some ballasts have different wires for 120 or 277 volt, but there are ALSO what we call SMART ballasts which sense the voltage applied and somehow magically just work, just like ionize guy said. I have used both types. And yes he was kidding as we all know, and thank you BOTH for trying to be helpful.
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Old 10-12-2012, 01:58 PM   #11
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


Just a couple of points. It seems to me that multi-termial ballasts are pretty much gone and "smart" ballasts have replaced them in new stock.

You can get boxes of electronic ballasts for less than $10/ballast on ebay. That is major brands and in your choice of instant- or program-start. I've been modifying lots of T12 to T8 in my home recently so I bought 10 each of 2-32 and 4-32 GE program start.
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Old 10-12-2012, 02:09 PM   #12
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ballasts burned up all of a sudden!


Hey Doc.
Hows your lighting project going?
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:58 PM   #13
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Don't want to hijack, PM.

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