I've used 4 footers in my garage for longer than I can remember. Now
that it is a WW shop, I've got 9 of them. No matter if they have
electronic ballasts or the older types, the bulbs don't last long. I'd
venture a guess that I replace about 10 to 12 of them in a year. In the
past it seemed that one or two of the fixtures had more failures than
others, so I replaced the fixtures with electronic ballast. The
temperature at which they are turned on at seldom is below 50 degrees.
Half of them turn on automatically with a motion sensor, each time
someone enters the shop. BUT, the others are only turned on with a pull
switch when needed and they have had failures also, so I don't think
that it is the frequency of switching them on/off that's the problem.
I've used GE Residential bulbs and Phillips bulbs that HD carries now.
I've had 2 or 3 immediate failures of the Phillips bulbs (flickering) so
I returned them for refund and switched back to GE, which always work
My question is: do you guys have frequent bulb failures with the 4
footers? I'm thinking of replacing them with eights if that will solve
Incandescent bulbs in my home last for ages, except for those little
I am one of those who subscribe to the theory of leaving most sorts of
electrical equipment (without motors, of course) ON, if you don't have to
turn it off ... this specifically includes fluorescent fixtures.
I leave my 8, four footers in the shop on 24/7 and haven't burned out a
single bulb in 2 years at the current location. I do the same with
computers, amplifiers in the studio, etc. ... we have an old BBS computer at
the office that has been on for almost 8 years... afraid to turn it off,
Even leaving the shop lights on all the time, electricity for the shop is
still less than $30/month ... and this in an area of high electrical costs.
Strictly FWIW and YMMV ...
Quite the opposite of my experience. Have about a dozen 2-tube
4-footers and cant remember having to replace a single bulb in about
five years now...
Incandescents, on the other hand.....
Those suckers pop on me at the rate of about 2 a month. I'm slowly
replacing them with screw-in fluorescents. Pricey, but worth it if
they last as long as the advertising says they will. The sylvania
90-watt equivalents (pull about 25 watts of power) give a brighter,
whiter light than the other brands, which are yellowish.
Have you tried the T8 fixtures and bulbs? I used to have have the
same short-life problem you are seeing with the older style (T12 I think)
fixtures. When I built my new shop last year, I put in all T8 fixtures
and haven't had a bulb fail yet (~1 year). They're cheap, put out more
light, and use less electricity -- I'm sold on them.
I use T-8s as well, with OSRAM electronic ballasts. More light, less
power, and they start reliably to 0 F. You can get them in 4' and 8'
lengths. They are bi-pin designs, but the pins must be wired together
at each end when used with electronic ballasts. Most of the bulbs are
reduced mercury, tri-phosphor designs with a broad spectrum. I love
mine as well. I pay $3.60 each locally for an ALTO850 tube - 2950
lumens, 32 watt, 5000k color temperature.
I used to have problems with bulbs and fixtures I installed in a garage when
I lived in Ottawa, Canada. They didn't work in the cold and bulbs and
ballasts (non-electronic) would fail frequently.
A sales rep at an electrical store suggested I use high output fixtures and
bulbs, which are available in various lengths. So I installed 4' fixtures
and bulbs, and those lights worked on even the coldest days. And they lasted
for several years, too. They might still be working, for all I know.
I thought it was the cold too, Guy, but the last 3 fixtures I bought
(within just this past year) are rated to zero degrees. It's never less
than 40 when they are turned on; usually it's over 50. This puzzles me,
as there is a couple of fixtures which almost never burn out the bulbs,
and then a couple that use to burn them out frequently I replaced with
the zero degree rated electronic ballast type, and those kill the bulbs
pretty quickly. Maybe because they are cheepies? "American" is in the
brand name; I forget the EXACT name.
Ah. I was thinking that perhaps some electrical hash
from a motor was getting onto one circuit but not
another. Voltage spikes could shorten the life of
Try rigging a small incandescent light on each circuit
and watch for brightness changes while you're going
about doing what you do. You might uncover a problem
with a ground loop.
Dave you might check the voltage at the source. It sounds like you may have
a low voltage problem.
Typically fluorescent lamps last a good long time. What gives me this
impression is that you said your incandescent
lamps last a long time. If you operate incandescents at reduced voltage ,
the filament life is greatly increased.
Just a thought.
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