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Old 09-03-2012, 08:09 AM   #1
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Strange doings in a fluorescent fixture


I have a very perplexing phenomenon regarding a fluorescent fixture in my kitchen (2 40W tubes, rapid start).

The fixture was working fine. I took it down to try another fixture in its place, and eventually replaced the original fixture.

When I did, the tubes would not light fully. When I replaced it, the wiring was the same as when I'd removed it--white to white, black to black, ground connected.

In desperation, I did some experimenting, and wired white to black. Again the tubes would not light up fully. But I discovered that if I did not connect the ground wire, and instead touched it briefly to ground, it sparked, and the tubes became fully lit!

What is going on here? And how do I make thix fixture operate correctly, as it did before I removed it? Thanks.
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:49 AM   #2
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Sounds like a bad ballast or bad tube(s). I know you say it was working before you took it down but it may have been getting weak. BTW, do not leave it connected the way you did as a trial.

IF this is a T12 fixture it is a good time to replace the ballast and lamps and convert to T8s.
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:05 PM   #3
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Ballast & bulbs


RJ, I *think* it was the ballast. This fixture had been in place for probably 10 years (all the while, hated by my wife). We took it down to see what kind of light a newer fixture would give. We did not like the newer fixture, so I replaced the old one, and that is when I noticed the problem.

I took it down to my workshop and experimented with it. Regardless of whether white was connected to white or black, when I connected the ground, my GFI popped. So I conclude that in removing and then replacing it, I probably knocked aside a piece of brittle insulation, which caused the problem.

As to T8s and T12s, today I replaced the old fixture (T12s) with one to my wife's liking, 2 T8 bulbs. But it provides a bit less light than the older one.
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:53 AM   #4
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The balast has internal leakage. That is why you saw the spark when you connected the ground.

I would replace the T12 with T12 if you are unhappy with the amount of light from the T8. But remember in 10 years when it needs replacement- T12 will have been phased out.
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:12 AM   #5
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Aaaah, thank you, RJ. Very clear, on-point explanation and information. My guess is that when I removed the fixture, I probably disturbed some brittle insulation.
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