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Hi,

Having a problem with the tube lighting in kitchen of old home (1962) which we just bought.


The kitchen has 4 fluorescent lights in the ceiling. We replaced them with LED replacement tubes. 3 work, but one keeps burning out (sometimes with smoke and smell, sometimes, just turns brown). We assume it's the ballast. But oddly, when we put the fluorescent tube back in, it works.


Thanks for any advice.
 

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There are two types of led tubes. One uses the ballast, the other does not.

Also you need to check the wiring inside to make sure it matches the diagram on the tubes. Also check the wiring tombstone on the ends.
 
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Having a problem with the tube lighting in kitchen of old home (1962) which we just bought.

The kitchen has 4 fluorescent lights in the ceiling. We replaced them with LED replacement tubes. 3 work, but one keeps burning out (sometimes with smoke and smell, sometimes, just turns brown). We assume it's the ballast. But oddly, when we put the fluorescent tube back in, it works.
While you do not state how those "4 fluorescent lights in the ceiling" are arranged, may I suggest that you look up "LED Panels" to replace them.
Yes, that will cost more than replacing fluorescent Tubes with LED Tubes and some persons may tell you not to do it because, if the "LED Panel" fails, it will be necessary to replace the whole "Panel".

However, if you purchase a quality LED Panel from a reputable manufacture with an appropriate "gaurentee", you are unlikely to have many such problems.
 

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I have rental homes with this type of kitchen lighting. When bulbs wear out, I change the fixtures to LED fixtures. Old style tubes are hard to find, old style ballasts cost more than new LED fixtures, the light is brighter and uses a lot less power to run.
HD has them on sale right now and so does Costco.
 

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Welcome to the world of LED fluorescent conversions. Although in *your* case it might actually be a wiring problem not a duff LED (what a refreshing change).

I love LED. I was an early adopter. But LED fluorescent replacements are just awful. Poor quality, terrible reliability - meanwhile real fluorescent has been reinvented to its full potential - 90+ CRI light, no buzz, no flicker, works in the cold. And Tier 1 quality gear is cheap, so the stuff works reliably.

Yes, much cheaper than LED conversion. Don’t listen to the naysayers.

Anyway... You have several ways you can go.

New, real fluorescent (what I am doing)

First rule, only buy Tier 1 vendors: GE, Advance/Philips, OSRAM/Sylvania, Universal, etc.

I presume you have T12 tubes (1-1/2” diameter) - you can also go T8 tube (1” diameter) which are more efficient and “they keep saying” T12 will be banned someday, I really doubt it anymore since it’s phasing out naturally. Either way you can buy >90 CRI tubes no problem.

Regardless, replace with an electronic ballast, since your ballast is suspect. The ballast must match your chosen tube type (T8/12) and size (e.g. F40T12 or F32T8 for 4’ tubes). Check your wiring, if it has 2 wires per tube end, you can use any kind of ballast, if it has 1 wire per tube end you must use instant-start.

1000bulbs.com has a GE 4-lamp F32T8 instant-start ballast for $11 - others in the $20 range.
EBay has a guy selling programmed-start GE 2-lamp ballasts for $5. Superb ballast, but they are “2L” type, meaning a 71% ballast factor. Meaning only 71% of normal light. Ballast factor lets architects tune lighting for spaces, for instance I’m getting some for this office, which is wildly overlit.

Anyway, you change the ballast, fit tubes which match the ballast, and Bob’s your uncle. That fixture will not give you any trouble for 30 years, except maybe tube changes after 5-15 years depending on how much you use and start it. And it’s Tier 1 stuff so it won’t fail for Chinese reasons.

LED “plug-and-play”

In this setup you must maintain a functioning ballast. It can be That 70’s Ballast if you’re fond of buzzing (the LED “tube” will take care of the flicker and cold-start problems). You can also use an electronic ballast. And as far as I can see, the LED “tubes” don’t care if it’s a T8 or T12 ballast (real tubes certainly do care).

However I have to say, if you have a modern electronic ballast, why not just fit a real modern tube, they are cheaper and better made, with better quality light.

Cortez burned his ships when he landed on the New World, to remove his soldiers’ hopes of going home. If that’s your view toward LED conversions, then “Plug-and-play” is stupid. You’re retaining a ballast for no reason when you could just use a

Ballast-bypass/direct-wire LED

With these LEDs, you bypass the ballast altogether (they tell you not to throw it away, but only because it might contain PCBs; if it’s marked “no PCBs” feel free). You hot-wire 120/230V straight to the fluorescent tube “tombstones” (lamp sockets).

Now, the Chinese builders are all about shaving fractions of a penny, and it costs a fraction of a penny to run a wire to the opposite end of the tube. As such, the cheapest direct-wire LED “tubes” want 120V and neutral at the same end of the tube (and the other end has no connections). Some LEDs even say opposite-end connection on the box, but when you open it up it’s same-end with an errata note telling you to make the wiring change. This is typical of the hack-a-dack cheapness of LED replacement tubes.

Same-end is particularly a problem on “instant-start” fixtures, because their tombstones’ 2 pins are internally shunted (shorted). Now you must tear apart the fixture and replace the tombstones with non-shunted types. /facepalm

Now, there’s a type of LED replacement called “universal”. It is rigged to work both as a plug-n-play and as a ballast-bypass - it takes the power that is offered. These are, by definition, opposite-end. If you have “universal” tubes, you can rewire your fixture for opposite-end direct-wire, and Bob’s your uncle.
 

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I have 2' fluorescent tube lights in bathroom in a Condo building. The ballast seems defective as the replaced fluorescent tube lights are getting blown off. Want to replace them by LED tubes. What is the best option between Single end & Double end tubes? I can bypass Ballast & rewire either the tombstones Shunt or Non-Shunt type depending on Single & Double end.
 
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