Flourescent problems?

A couple years ago I put a bunch (7 ea) of the cheap 'shop' flourescents in my work shop . (48" twin bulb). I also fitted them with the cheapest bulb that the store was selling.
I don't heat my shop in the winter and each winter, fewer and fewer of these bulb will light. I noticed today, that only 2 of the 14 bulbs are working (temp. has been down to 38 deg.)..
I figure it is time to do something. My question is; is it the ballasts or the bulbs that are failing?? It cost about half the cost of a new fixture, for a new ballast and then there is the work of replacing the ballast.
Is this a common problem with flourescents in a cold climate?? Should I try a more expensive light?? Or would these lights last longer if I used a premium bulb??
Experience, opinions??
Steve
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Yea. Those cheap jobs don't work when it is cold. They also tend to stop working after being exposed to moisture for a while (the contacts corrode), they tend to hum and they are not very efficient.
You need something that is cold weather rated. Even better would be something that has electronic ballast as well. Best is both of them plus quality.
Today in the US I have seen three options that fit your needs and easy to find and are not too expensive. The first are the cold rated 8 foot fixtures. They are what I have. However more recently I have seen some T8 cold rated fixtures that are 8 foot but use four 4 foot lamps. I believe they also have some four foot (two lamp) matching fixtures. I may try them when I get the time to replace the second half of my garage lamps.
The best quality fixtures are going to be available in a commercial lighting supply, not one of the big box DIY centers.
Note: T8 is a smaller lamp the ones you are use to seeing are T12s. In general the T8s work better in the cold, but be sure to get cold rated fixtures as not all T8s are really designed for cold.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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Thanks, that is the kinda info I was looking for.. But it sounds like those "T8 Cold Rated" fixtures might be expensive, since I would have to get them from a commercial lighting dealer..
But, then I have invested about $70US in these cheap lights and they started failing within a year.. I didn't get much more than marginal service from them for the past 6 years. The last year they have been nearly worthless and now I have to rig a incandesent light just to do small projects.
I mention all of my problems as an example for others.. Lesson Learned.
Steve
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I did find the cold weather rated T8 fixtures at HD and they even had some 'shop grade' on sale for $16.77 each.. (twin 48" T8 rated to 0 temp.) These shop lights also had a feature that I haven't seen before.. They have a metal guard to keep the bulb from dropping out or from 2x4, etc. from hitting the bulbs. Always a problem in my shop.
I'm going back, (after the retirement check comes in) and pick up a half dozen for a try.. (of the 14 old flourescents bulbs in my shop, only 2 were working yesterday and the temp. is only down to the low 40s.)
Steve
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I picked up 4 of these low temp lights (48" T8) and found them well made but they did require some minor assembly..
The fixtures are $16.97 each and the bulbs are about the same price as the old standard bulbs. The price veries with the type of light, daylight, natural, etc.
I was optomistic enough that I bought a case bulbs because of the cost savings $39 for a case of 25 (39/25= $1.56)..
I assembled the first 4 in the shop at about 38 degrees, they all worked without a blink while my old magnetic balast fixtures still refuse to start. (2 of 14 bulb are all that would start and light.) Blame it on temp or the fact that they were el-cheapo fixture or cheap bulbs, but I'm going to replace them all..
Steve (enlightened and happy)
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FWIW I had the same problem with my cheapo's but they performed much better when I got regular 40 watt lamps instead of the "Energy Saver" 32 watt that HD pushes. Maybe the ballast react differently, but my stopped flickering and they light just fine now.

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