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Old 11-12-2007, 07:21 AM   #1
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Fluorscent Lighting


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I have lived in this house for 35 years and this problem started a couple years ago. In the kitchen, we have two fluorescent lights. One is an 18 inch fixture hidden by an overhang. The second one is a standard ceiling fixture. Both are turned on and off by separate wall switches. Both lights use the same common wire. Both lights are grounded.

In the basement, I have two shop lights which are plug-ins but have an inline switch to turn them off and on.

All these lights have the same problem. In the summer, when the lights are turned on, they most often do NOT come on although they are getting power. Sometimes if the switches are rapidly switched on and off the lights will come on. I can also leave the switches in the on position and eventually, the lights will come on. In the winter, the lights work normally and come on immediately when the switches are turned on.


I have tried many things to correct this issue, including replacing the fixtures. I have changed the bulbs and switches also. One of the circuits I even rewired from the CB panel to the recepticle where light is pluged in. Nothing I have done seems to correct the problem.

We have on fixture in the bathroom, and so far <cross my fingers>, it has never had this problem.

The house has central heating and cooling and the temperature in summer is kept at 76-78F. In the winter, the temperature is kept about 72F.

If anyone knows why this is happening and/or how to fix it, I sure would
appreciate some help. Thank you.

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Old 11-12-2007, 04:51 PM   #2
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Gosh Jer... That's a stumper. All voltages correct? Do incandescents work in the flourescents place? On the plug in type does the recp read OK with a plug in tester???

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Old 11-12-2007, 07:00 PM   #3
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Fluorscent Lighting


I have the same problem with a shop light operated by a pull chain switch in the garage that is used daily... Been there for close to five years.

Thought the bulbs were going so I swapped some of those out.. But I have swapped old bulbs back in and they worked later. Wife kept saying ballast was going according to her maint guy at work.

I think it is casued by some type of oxidation on the two pins on the end of the bulb or the bulb socket. When the light doesnt work, I wiggle the bulbs a little and they work fine for days. The sockets for the bulbs are in good shape.

Does seem to only happen in the warmer/humid months..

Maybe I need an AFCI?
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Old 11-12-2007, 07:08 PM   #4
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"Maybe I need an AFCI?" I don't know why, but that got me tickled. Flourescents are complex animals. Ballast, starters, tombstones, all kinds of crap can go wrong. An incandescant is essentially a controlled fire. Very simple.

The newer T5 lights ( and lamps ) seem to start quicker and work better. Both you guys may very well have ballast problems. I think if I were in your shoes, I'd rather get a newer, better light than replace a ballast in a resi. flourescent. That is just my opinion, though.

Anyone else?
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Old 11-12-2007, 07:58 PM   #5
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Couldnt resist the AFCI thing Andy!

My light is just a cheap four footer on a couple of chains over the work bench.. Always works great though with the exception of that one problem that just started this summer. Humid here in VA so I dunno if thats the issue but I'll run the light til it dies.

I would replace it [in fact have another on the shelf] rather than put parts in it.
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:05 PM   #6
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The reason I would replace in a resi. setting is cause its easier, and if the light is old, the technology has improved.

In commercial work, it is different. Next time you are in Wally World or the grocery store, look up. Definitely better to put parts in those. To frikkin many to replace new.
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:07 PM   #7
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This is strange. Usually, the darn things won't start because it' too cold. I have had a lot of problems with some of the shop lights sold at big box stores. Electronic ballasts are fairly reliable but you said you've replaced your fixtures. I'm not sure what is going on there. I say replace them with incandescent. 2 cents.
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:16 AM   #8
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I do appreciate all the replys and will try to answer <reply to> all of them here.

My tester says all the voltages are correct, but there is a small drop between summer and winter months. It never has gone below 115 volts even in the summer.

I have never tried to replace the fluorscence with incandescent lights.

Oxidation I had thought about as wiggling the bulbs will make the lights come on, but that is a PITA to do every time .

The lights in the basement have NOT been as big a concern as the ones in the kitchen as they are not used as often. I will check those recps to make sure voltages are correct.

As for a ballast problem, I have put brand new lights up in the kitchen and the same problem still exists. I thought that eliminated the ballast as a problem.

I will keep working on the problem <now that winter is here, the problem has gone away for now>.

Thanks guys
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Old 11-14-2007, 04:53 AM   #9
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I have fluorescent lights in my kitchen and I've notice that they are very sensitive to voltage variations. In the summer, I live in the southern California area where it gets very hot, the lights will be dim early in the evening when everyone has there AC on. Being the curious type, I checked the voltage and found that voltage was less than the 120V. Later in the evening when it gets cooler and the power from the electric company gets back to normal the lights gets brighter. It's sounds to me light you may have a power problem.

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