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Old 08-23-2011, 09:10 PM   #1
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


In my kitchen I have a fixture that holds 4 4ft fluorescent tubes. About 2 months ago I bought 4 40w GE Reveals to replace my old garish 30w tubes. For 2 months everything was fine, but then the center 2 tubes would not fire (They are paired 2 on the outside and 2 on the inside), but after a bit of sputtering at least the outer 2 would come on. You can see the center tubes want to turn on, but they give up and concede to the outer 2. I then swapped the pairing and the inner 2 would not work together as a pair - even on the outside. So I went to Lowe's and exchanged them for a new pair. It worked! Or so I thought. After a week, the center 2 struggled to fire again and eventually the outer 2 would turn on. I did the swap, and the new ones seemed to be trashed. They will not fire together, even on the outside pair. It's the exact same problem again even with brand new lights.

I can't figure out what is going on. It seems like something in my fixture is ruining anything that goes in the center-pair now . Is 40w too much (old ones were 30w).

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Old 08-23-2011, 09:13 PM   #2
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Sounds like you have the wrong tubes. Open the fixture and look at the ballast....it will tell you what tubes you should be using. Another couple of things that can shorten bulb life is weak tombstones or improper seating of the bulbs.

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Old 08-23-2011, 09:36 PM   #3
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Or the ballast is dying.
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Old 08-23-2011, 09:42 PM   #4
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Was there a problem with the old tubes? If you did put in the wrong tubes, you may have also have done some damage to the ballast(s). I think Code05 may have hit the nail on the head.
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Old 08-23-2011, 09:45 PM   #5
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


If just the ends of the tube light up as the tube tries to come on for long periods of time then the tube will be trashed in short order.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wallix
I bought 4 40w GE Reveals to replace my old garish 30w tubes ...
You definitely put the wrong tubes into the fixture. The results can be unpredictable.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Thanks for the replies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
Sounds like you have the wrong tubes. Open the fixture and look at the ballast....it will tell you what tubes you should be using. Another couple of things that can shorten bulb life is weak tombstones or improper seating of the bulbs.
I checked and both the ballasts are rated for 40WT12 lights which is what these Reveals are. I think the seating is OK, but I'm not sure about the tombstones.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Code05 View Post
Or the ballast is dying.
Is there a quick way to rule that out or is a new fixture in order? This fixture came with the house in 2002.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
Was there a problem with the old tubes? If you did put in the wrong tubes, you may have also have done some damage to the ballast(s). I think Code05 may have hit the nail on the head.
I'm leaning towards the ballast theory myself. The old tubes did not have this problem. But keep in mind that it took over 2 months for the first set of Reveals to malfunction. Now it seems like it's going to happen regularly. But after actually checking the ballast, it would seem the original tubes were underrated at 30w.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
If just the ends of the tube light up as the tube tries to come on for long periods of time then the tube will be trashed in short order.
It's not just the ends fortunately. The blinking seems to be even throughout the tube. Although when I put all 4 in I can see the rings passing through the tubes of the middle set as it tries to light (then gives up).

I have a feeling if I went out and got 2 more Reveals that all 4 would work in harmony for about a week again, then the middle set would die off. Does this sound like a ballast issue?
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:35 PM   #7
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


WEll...if you like the fixture, you could change the ballast.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:37 PM   #8
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Your new lamps are t-12, right? If you like the fixture, change the ballast out. Too bad it's T-12....the T-8 technology is much better, cheaper, brighter......blah blah blah...
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:44 PM   #9
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Quote:
Originally Posted by Missouri Bound View Post
Your new lamps are t-12, right? If you like the fixture, change the ballast out. Too bad it's T-12....the T-8 technology is much better, cheaper, brighter......blah blah blah...
I hate the fixture actually. "Generic" is an understatement. When I return these lights I'll check out the world of T8.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:45 PM   #10
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Also if a fluorescent tube blinks a lot it will fail in short order.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:48 PM   #11
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Sounds like you are doing things in the right order. First the bulbs....it's usually the bulbs. If they light at all there isn't a wiring problem. If they flicker or need to be twisted or tapped to come on, it's most likely the fixture "tombstones". The ballast is usually the last step, unless there is a grounding issue.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:50 PM   #12
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Also if a fluorescent tube blinks a lot it will fail in short order.
When I took the ballast cover off I was shocked at how dirty, greasy, and brown the wires were (One of them even looked burnt). It was definitely just thrown together by the builder. I'm wondering if there was a problem with that ballast all along and since the old tubes were actually only 30w that the problem never revealed itself till I put in a 40W. Like Missouri Bound mentioned, I think a T8 overhaul is in order. I can live with the 2 working T12's for now.

The mystery to me still is:

1. Why do new lights work wonderfully for a week?
2. After a week, what would cause the 2 middle lights to consistently and permanently fail?

Last edited by wallix; 08-23-2011 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:14 AM   #13
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Quote:
Originally Posted by wallix View Post
The mystery to me still is:

1. Why do new lights work wonderfully for a week?
2. After a week, what would cause the 2 middle lights to consistently and permanently fail?
A dying ballast.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:54 AM   #14
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


Majorty of the F40T12 bulbs with the ballast which I useally run into they are two lamp ballast which it is most common due you describing outer two and inner two so I know a very good chance you have rapid start ballast so you will have to find a bad ballast.

The surefire way is convert to single ballast 4 lamp T-8 verison F32T8 do give little more light than old school 40 watter plus what more they are electronic so they are very quiet and no flicker.

But if you want to convert it you have to follow the wiring diagram carefull plus you will have to shunt the tombstone if that is electroinic verison.

Merci,
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Old 08-24-2011, 01:51 AM   #15
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Flourescsent Tubes Dying Mystery


While your at the store looking at T8's....have a look at T5's as well....or, maybe consider other lighting options....maybe recessed cans....then you can use any combination of CFL's....lots of color and wattage choices.

If you do go the can route....look for cans with the GU24 base....that way you stay compliant with energy requirements.

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