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Old 05-28-2012, 11:22 PM   #1
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I know this isn't a "I hate something" site, so let me grit my teeth and say I cringed when I saw my new house has fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen. I always have trouble snapping them into place.

These are recessed into the soffit above the upper cabinets. There are three 4 ft bulbs.

I know one is burned out but I don't have time to replace it. Today the others went off by themselves. I thought, 'hmm, strange'. 15 min later, or so, they came back on. An hour later they went off again. Half an hr later they came back on. This happens again later.

Either I have a ghost or somethings wrong with the lights.

When I managed a building if a F. bulb went out and maintenance replaced it and it still didn't work it was always the ballist.

I've never seen this off then on again happen. Any info is appreciated so I'm better informed when I call an electrician.

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Last edited by Startingover; 05-28-2012 at 11:24 PM. Reason: added sentence
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:29 PM   #2
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I personally love fluorescent bulbs.....I spend a lot less time changing bulbs and my electric bill is a lot less....on average, my monthly bill is about $45.

It's very unlikely that both bulbs failed or the ballasts failed on both lights. I would look for a loose connection.

One thing to try before you call in the expert....give the bulbs a twist. All too often people do not twist them properly into postion.

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Old 05-28-2012, 11:29 PM   #3
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First guess, ballast here also. Bulbs could cause this problem, but in my experience-unlikely.

You can swap it out pretty easily. How old is the ballast?
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:33 PM   #4
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Ballasts have internal thermal protection which shuts them down if they get too hot.

The symptoms you described indicates you may have an overheating ballast.

In the olde days, the ballast would just get hot enough to boil out the tar, and spew stinking smelling ooze all over the place. Now, with the thermal overload protection in place, the lights go out until the ballast cools off and then it comes on again, repeating the cycle until complete failure of the device.

Figure on replacing the ballast at least, or the entire fixture at the most.
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Old 05-28-2012, 11:33 PM   #5
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Ballasts are thermally protected...at least some are. They can cycle off and on when overheated. Your ballast is the issure here, assuming you are using the proper lamps.
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Old 05-29-2012, 12:38 AM   #6
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These lights aren't on a dimmer are they?
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:47 AM   #7
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thank you everyone.

Yes, this happened when I left them on all day. The house is 30 yrs old and I expect they are original ballasts.

I need an electrician for a few other things, so will make a list and wait to call him. Meanwhile I won't use these lights.

As someone pointed out isn't it strange all ballasts went out at the same time. (except they're all the same age) The house has been vacant for a year.

Last edited by Startingover; 05-29-2012 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 05-29-2012, 02:01 PM   #8
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All the ballasts may not have failed at the same time, but since the house was vacant, nobody noticed when they did fail. Yes, they can fail even when they are not being used. This is because the materials they are made with continue to break down even when they are not in use. Since they were all put back into operation at the same time, it appeared they had all failed at the same time. You must remember though, they were all installed about the same amount of time, and have received the same amount of useage, so yes, the chances of them failing at the same time is high.
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Old 05-29-2012, 02:24 PM   #9
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Not sure why you don't like flourescents especially if they are hidden as in your case. You can get them in different color temperatures and with high color rendering indexes you know? I had daylight full spectrum tube up in the skylights of my home in California. Transluscent panels were flush with the ceiling. They were quite nice at night.

The 3200-3400K ones give off that greenish cast unless you get them with a better color rendering index.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:51 PM   #10
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sdsester, thank you for sharing the link. Very interesting and impressive.

I don't like fluorescent bulbs because I can't get them in. They flicker for me, or at least in my last 2 homes they did. I know you put one end in and the other and give a twist, but it doesn't work for me.

From work experience I did make sure maintenance put the same colors in. Some would have a bluish cast and some yellow and it looked nicer when they were uniform.

av-geek, great explanation for my light problem. I have so much to learn about this house.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:18 AM   #11
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If the flickering bothers you, When you get the electrician to replace your ballasts, make sure that he replaces them with electronic ballasts. They operate at a much higher frequency than the 60hz line frequency, so they don't flicker. SOME electronic ballasts though give off a high frequency ringing noise, sort of like the old tube TV's would. Some people can hear that, but most people can't. Unless you have good high frequency hearing, chances are, you won't notice it
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:46 AM   #12
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Can you buy sockets that lock the bulbs? puttster
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:36 AM   #13
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av geek, I forgot about that but in my last house I did hear that noise from the bulbs.

The time has come for me to learn to master the art of inserting these bulbs.
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:55 AM   #14
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Some of the tombstones for the T8 fixtures are an enclosed type, which accept the bulb then turn 90 deg. and click in....pretty foolproof for installing the lamps properly. The T12 fixtures are usually the open ended type, but installing the lamps properly is a matter of indexing them. The lamps themselves have a little "bump" on the metal end which is the key to proper installation.

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