Electronic Fluorescent Cold Weather Fixtures

Last winter I purchases four 48" double fixtures and installed them in my mini barn. I removed the line cords and switches that came with them and hard wired them in parallel on their own 15 amp circuit. From day one they were noisy with a pronounced flicker to them. They seem to alternate from one to the other with almost a strobe effect. Sometimes they work perfectly and at other times the compressor or portable heater tends to set them off. Other times they start acting up on their own. I am seriously tempted to install my old fixtures.
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Hank Z wrote:

I assume you are saying that the new lamps that are not working well for you are electronic cold weather fixtures. Remember that while the best current technology today seems to be electronic, not all electronic systems are equal. You tend to get what you pay for.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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If I may ask two simple (and hopefully not insulting) questions: 1) are these fixtures properly grounded and 2) do you have the correct tubes installed?
When you say "electronic fluorescent", I'm taking that to mean these fixtures are equipped with standard electronic ballasts and not high output (many "cold weather" fixtures are HO, but in this case they would likely be fitted with magnetic-core ballasts as opposed to electronic). If it is a standard electronic ballast, any 32-watt T8 (1 inch) lamp should work -- the older 34-watt or 40-watt T12 lamps should never be used with this type of fixture.
Cheers, Paul

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wrote:

Sorry if this adds enough slop to the pot of stew to cloud things up, but:
1) There are electronic ballasts for T12 lamps.
2) Now more for counterpoint to 1 - I have heard of a few electronic ballasts that are supposedly good for both T8 and T12. However, the amp requirements of T8 and T12 are different enough for high probability of at least one size being powered not too close to optimum. I suspect that deviations from optimum would get concentrated towards underpowering and away from overpowering of the various sizes covered by such "1-ballast-fits-many-size-lamps" ballasts - meaning that T12 gets underpowered by such ballasts. Expect such wide-range electronic ballasts to make T12 lamps run a little to somewhat dim in good conditions, worse to arguably malfunction with T12 in cold conditions, and to be even worse with 34 watt T12 ("energy saver T12") than "true 40 watt F40T12" since the 34 watters are "crankier" than "true F40" especially in cold conditions.
I would recommend use of ballasts rated for T8 or T12 but not both and to use lamps (bulbs) of the size for the ballasts. Of these two sizes, I prefer T8, which has 4-footers nominally 32 watts. But I would prefer F40T12 on a F40T12 ballast over almost anything with a ballast that is supposed to be good for both T8 and T12, especially if supposedly good for more than one specific quantity of lamps/"bulbs" or more than one length of lamps/"bulbs".
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
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And for another perspective...
Fluorescent lights are usually, by definition, mercury-discharge lights, (even the compact fluorescents.) The small amount of mercury in the tube needs to be heated to a vapor in order for the lamp to work properly. They usually perform poorly in cold weather and badly in really cold weather. Some fixtures get so cold that they won't even start. A lot depends on whether the fixture is designed to retain heat.
I don't believe you said what the application was for, but you might want to consider switching to incandescent or halogen lamps, if the power consumption is not an issue (i.e. the lights are left on all night).
For my outdoor (motion sensitive) security lights, I like the old fashioned high wattage incandescent floodlights and spotlights.
Beachcomber
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Here is some more information: The electronic ballast comes with the fixture and is Mfg. or distributed by Tri Con Company. Model # 64009 and advertised as all season, 0 F. to 17.7 degrees C. Requires two F8 tubes @ 32 watts supposedly instant on, no hum, and no flicker. Yes, all four fixtures are grounded properly.
Paul M. Eldridge wrote:

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Hi Hank,
Thanks for the confirming this. I'm afraid I'm drawing a blank at this point. The only other thing I can suggest is taking the lamps out, checking and cleaning the pins and contacts, then resetting them in place making sure they're locked tightly. If you have additional F32 T8 lamps kicking about I might try swapping them out to see if this makes any difference.
Good luck and let us know what you find.
Cheers, Paul

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Hi Hank,
And now, for my best advice so far...
I forgot to mention there is another news group that might be able to help you out: sci.eng.lighting. The folks that hang out there really know their stuff and they're pretty friendly to boot. If there's anyone who can help you with this problem, you'll likely find them there.
Cheers, Paul

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