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Discussion Starter #1
Have a two x 40W tube fluorescent fixture hanging overhead. Often starts dim but after jiggling tubes may eventually start at full power. Changing the tubes does not seem to help significantly, and I don't see any other replaceable parts. Any thoughts?

I am guessing that folks knowledgeable about working on cars will also be knowledgeable about other technical stuff that is a mystery to the general population.
 

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Fluorescent fixtures have a voltage stepup ballast transformer. In one end of the fixture there may be a small silver twist-in plug canister - a storage capacitor - sometimes called a "starter" - they sometimes fail and are a replaceable part - hardware stores. Otherwise the ballast itself is going bad.

I had a similar problem for years in the garage - and replaced both fixtures with equivalent "2 tube" daylight LED units. Instant start, wonderful light.
 

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I have a similar problem, but only when the humidity gets high in the summer. That's my indicator that it is time to turn on the dehumidifier in the basement. Then the problem goes way. I have no explanation for that.
 

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My first "real" job was working at a grocery store and one of the jobs I was enlisted to perform was ballast replacement on the fluorescent overhead lighting. I actually liked doing it because it beat bagging groceries and everyone else was scared of heights and working off ladders.
With the progression of LED lighting, I have found that between the maintenance items and cost of fluorescent bulbs, it's much better to just upgrade to LED style shop lighting. As Sub said, it is wonderful light. I replaced all of my fluorescent fixtures with LED and the difference is amazing. You will see and find new things, both good and bad.

One word of caution: After reading reviews online, others recommend it is imperative to test each unit before installation. I found this to be true when I ordered a 10 pack of fixtures and two of them were defective right out of the box. Replacements were sent out N/C, but I would have been upset if I found out after taking the time to mount them.
 

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Funny, only 3 weeks ago I replaced (3) 2-tube fluorescent fixtures with (4) mega lumen LED corn bulbs (took me almost 5 minutes searching what they're called). As noted, it sure has enhanced my quality of life in the garage. Goodbye to over 30 years during winter cold waiting forever for lights to heat up enough to see anything. Up next is extending the circuit for 3 more across the opposite side.

Also funny, I soon found out why the home center was almost giving away 2' 'energy conserving' o.h. fixtures. 2 minutes after switching on it turns off unless you've been judged acceptably 'active'. Then it's a few seconds of jumping jacks to pay for another 2 minutes. I just wired around the sensor and gave it to my son.
 

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Have a two x 40W tube fluorescent fixture hanging overhead. Often starts dim but after jiggling tubes may eventually start at full power. Changing the tubes does not seem to help significantly, and I don't see any other replaceable parts. Any thoughts?

I am guessing that folks knowledgeable about working on cars will also be knowledgeable about other technical stuff that is a mystery to the general population.
If these are T12's lamps the ballasts will takes a little time to warm up in colder weather. T12's are usually in older fixtures until T8's came along. T8 lamps are 1" in diameter, the T12's are 1 1/2". I've replaced all my fluorescent fixtures with led lamps. this is what I'm using and it uses your existing ballast... (Keep in mind that this link is for a T8 fixtures)


(This is for either T8 or T12 fixtures...)


I hope this helps.
 

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I have a few old style fluorescent bulbs left. When they go I will hit up led bulbs.
 

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::Auwnuldt:: "Listen to me now and hear me later." Run. No really run for new LEDs asap. From my experience you'll be pissed more every day you didn't within 5 seconds after you do.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank all for all the info!

Yes, they are T12's, yes it gets worse over the summer, yes I am going to run right down to Lowe's and pick up some LED tubes. They are certainly inexpensive and, if I understand this correctly, should be plug and play with the old fixture. If I have to replace the fixture I will live with jiggling for a while longer.

My working explanation for the seasonal effect was that I live in a B neighborhood in Brooklyn, and that during the summer when demand is high the A neighborhoods get full voltage and the B neighborhoods get rolling voltage drops to make ends meet. Fixture has no so-called starters visible, by the way.
 

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There are two types of ballasts used in florescent fixtures, the old inductive type ballast and electronic "starters" in newer T12 fixtures. Phillips makes a universal T12 replacement that will work with either inductive or electronic ballast units, others are generally designed for one or the other with electronic ballast replacement types being more common. The less convenient but ultimately higher efficiency option is to bypass the ballast (or starter) in your fixture and use LED bulbs designed to operate at full line voltage.

The no wiring replacement types are the most convenient but if you get a non-universal version then make sure it is designed for the type of ballast in your fixture.

Rodger
 

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Discussion Starter #12
There are two types of ballasts used in florescent fixtures ...
Great info, thank you! I hate having to take the thing apart but rewiring does sound like the best option.

Jakerin - I meant a neighborhood with less clout. I speculated the Upper East Side gets its full 110V or 120V RMS while lesser neighborhoods in the outer boroughs are used as buffers when demand is high. In 2012 at least my speculation was a reported fact:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-utilities-northeast-heatwave/con-edison-trims-voltage-in-brooklyn-queens-amid-heat-wave
 

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OMG, hot subway cars? Disgusting! Riding next to some pig who's raised arm is holding onto a strap-next to your face.
 

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Great info, thank you! I hate having to take the thing apart but rewiring does sound like the best option.

Jakerin - I meant a neighborhood with less clout. I speculated the Upper East Side gets its full 110V or 120V RMS while lesser neighborhoods in the outer boroughs are used as buffers when demand is high. In 2012 at least my speculation was a reported fact:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-utilities-northeast-heatwave/con-edison-trims-voltage-in-brooklyn-queens-amid-heat-wave
Aah, gotcha, like the B-side of a record. Man, that dates me huh?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
OMG, hot subway cars? Disgusting! Riding next to some pig who's raised arm is holding onto a strap-next to your face.
That was pre-pandemic. Now I am more worried about people without masks, steady absolute crime figures spread over fewer riders, and random angry people pushing me to the tracks -- or I would be without my 14mpg in town 17' personal transportation device. Non-renewable resources, it's payback time.

Straps, by the way, were replaced by skeuomorphic spring loaded handles some decades ago, then, nothing but the bar. But perhaps this is drifting too far off topic.
 

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As an electrician, do not buy the LED replacement tubes. Especially if you're not comfortable in figuring them out. They are either a direct replacement, and you'll most likely end up having the jiggling issue. Or you'll have to take apart the fixture and rewire the ballast out of the mix. And from what I hear, you'll have to install the LED tubes in a certain way. Not sure if that is of the direct replacement and or the rewiring of the fixture.

To be honest, I didn't know that there were LED replacement tubes for a few years. I just been replacing the fixtures instead to LED.

As for your original problem. It sounds like the tombstones, those pieces at either end that the tube goes into, are bad. So it's a good chance that you'll have issues with the LED replacement tubes. Hence my suggestion of replacing the whole fixture.

KOT
 
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