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Old 07-30-2011, 05:45 PM   #1
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I'm exasperated!


Hi. My kitchen light has always had a problem lighting up half of the fluorescent bulbs. So after changing the ballast didn't fix the problem, I decided to buy a whole new light fixture. I installed the light fixture this morning and guess what? The same half of the light doesn't light up, just like the original fixture. What is going on here? The ground is connected. The only connection between the two fixtures are the black, white and ground wires coming out of the ceiling. What could be causing this problem? I do have a lighted light switch that glows at night. Could this little light siphon off electrical current? When the light is in the 'on' position, the little light doesn't light, so I don't see this as the problem. Thoughts please? Thanks in advance for your help.

Rick

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Old 07-30-2011, 06:41 PM   #2
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Yeah, sometimes these little things get to ya. In my experience I found a poor ground will cause the problem you describe - does it fire if you run your hand down the tube? I know you said you have one but check it again - at both line and load.

Temperature can also cause a problem but doubt that is the case ( unless you live in the arctics!)

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Old 07-30-2011, 08:26 PM   #3
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Just a thought,

Maybe that light is passing just enough current through the ballast so that when you do turn the light on it doesn't generate the impulse needed to ionize the gas. In other words, it thinks the lamp is already lit.

Take the switch out and try it for a bit, or have someone turn the breaker for the circuit on and off with the switch in the on position. It'd do the same thing.
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Old 07-30-2011, 08:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickVS View Post
The same half of the light doesn't light up, just like the original fixture. What is going on here? The ground is connected. The only connection between the two fixtures are the black, white and ground wires coming out of the ceiling.
First, the ground has nothing to do with lighting the fixture.
What do you mean by the connection between the two fixtures? Are there two separate fixtures?
And this The same half of the light doesn't light up - how many bulbs does this fixture have - four or two?
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Old 07-30-2011, 08:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by a7ecorsair View Post
First, the ground has nothing to do with lighting the fixture.
Beg to differ, from Philips Lighting:

Grounding of a ballast and the luminaire can also aid in proper starting of the fluorescent lamp. This is especially important when magnetic fluorescent ballasts are utilized. The metal reflector provides a capacitive path to ground through the wall of the fluorescent tube. This helps to ionize the gases inside the tube and initiate conduction in the tube. However, once current is flowing from end-to-end, the impedance in the ballast circuit is much lower than this capacitive path. Thus, the added capacitance is irrelevant once the tube has started.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:02 PM   #6
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OK, I won't dispute that but the OPs explanation is vague as to what he actually has for fixtures. I'd think there is more to this than a missing or poor ground.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:06 PM   #7
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I agree, it could be clearer.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:32 PM   #8
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When I say a 'connection' between the first fixture and the second, I only mean that in terms of what they have in common re: their symptoms. Also, I don't think it is the ground. The ground was good, and the odds of the ground being bad on both fixtures I have to think would be highly unlikely; I'm not that bad of an amateur electrician.

The first fixture had two u-shaped bulbs. The one on the West side stopped lighting; the one on the opposite side facing East DID light up. The new fixture has 4 bulbs. The two on the West facing side of the fixture fail to light up; the two bulbs on the East side of the fixture light up fine.

I tried the breaker trick. Only two bulbs lit up still.

Last edited by RickVS; 07-30-2011 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 07-30-2011, 09:54 PM   #9
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Just to be clear, there is just one fixture with 4 tubes?

Does it have one or two ballasts?

Check the wiring diagram on the ballast and make sure it is correct with respect to the tombstones and that the wires are tight. They just slip in and can lose contact.
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:13 PM   #10
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Is this light on a dimmer switch? Most florescent light fixtures are not dimmable.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:03 AM   #11
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Hi. Just on a regular switch that lights up when it is off.

Two ballasts. The previous fixture had one ballast.

I just replaced the wall switch with a non-lit switch. Didn't fix the problem.

Could this be a problem with the breaker? Perhaps not enough current is getting to the light.

Last edited by RickVS; 07-31-2011 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:15 AM   #12
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So these two bulbs have never worked in the new fixture.

Check all wiring.

Try swapping the bulbs around, see what happens. You could also just have a bad ballast.
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:22 AM   #13
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Uuuummmmm.......what about putting in brand new bulbs? Are you using the old bulbs from the old fixture. Try new bulbs/new fixture/ballast.
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Old 07-31-2011, 12:51 PM   #14
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What type of ballast is it? T12, T8, T5? Type of lamps?
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Old 07-31-2011, 02:09 PM   #15
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I'm new to this forum and I couldn't help but read through your issue. So here are my thoughts I hope they help.
I'm thinking this is not a ballast/tube issue since it has always done this. And changing the old ballast didn't help nor did replacing the entire fixture. The lighted switch would not have anything to do with it. I'm thinking this is a grounding issue. Just because the ground is attached at the fixture that doesn't mean it's getting a good ground connection. The ground wire may not be made with the other ground wires in the switch box. If its not twisted together with the other ground wires at the switch then it is not getting the ground it needs. If it is made with the others then I would go to the panel and make sure the ground wires are tight in the grounding terminals.
Fluorescent lights are pretty much the only thing in a house that requires a ground in order to operate properly. So you possibly could have a grounding issue on the whole circuit and everything else would work fine except the light.
I hope this helps.
I'm anxious to see how this issue plays out.

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