Cheap fluorescent lighting?


What happened to the fluorescent lamp market? Fixtures have at least doubled since I last bought them.
I am looking for some 4 foot fluorescent fixtures for my shop and they are rather pricey these days. Are there any cheap suppliers?
THanks!
Pierce
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Gas prices. They're charging more for everything.

Have you tried Walmart? They seem to be the only ones who haven't raised every price yet.

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Actually it appears that the USG has something to do with it.
http://www.advancetransformer.com/resources/index.jsp?cid 
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The cheap ones don't work when it gets a bit chilly. I changed mine
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Bill
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I put what I consider to be cheap ones in my garage and I live in upstate NY where it gets plenty cold in the winter. My garage really never drops below 40 degrees, as I have a furnace out there, but 40 is too cold for a normal fluorescent. The 0 degree fixtures I put in came from Lowes and were just under $20 for a 4 footer. I put 15 of them in my garage and they work just fine.
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Bill wrote:

I had a $10 fixture hanging in my shop. One day, after two years of use, It started getting real hot and actually smoking. Fortunately I was there and shut the power off, otherwise, it would've probably burned my house down (left a black mark on the ceiling as it was).
Ever since then, I buy flouresent lights with higher quality ballasts. I just don't trust the cheapies anymore.
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I moved into a house with big eight foot recycled flourescent fixtures all over the basement. I noticed a little dripping from one of the fixtures one day. It was the varnish melting off the copper wires in the ballast. And it was quite hot too. I shut down the lights and went and bought a replacement ballast.
I looked over the other fixtures and come to the conclusion that this recycling effort was done with highly defective (or worn out) ballasts. I went to a reputable elctrical supplier and bought all new ballasts. I replaced all of them. At least half of them were warming up to a fire.
I found out later that the bastards who sold the house to me actually knew about this ahead of time. Laws have been passed since that time that would have severely penalized them for this stunt. Although I was upset, I was much more interested in my own personal safety. I fixed it and it was taken care of.
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bf wrote:

Even the expensive ones aren't so safe. My (nearing retirement age) parents' business had a fire last spring. The building is nearly all steel but one section of the main building has wood rafters. It's a metal fab and welding facility so things are genereally fire resistant. They smelled smoke one evening as they were closing up but could find nothing. Drove 'round the neighborhood and found nothing. Next day was also smoky smelling and mid-morning someone noticed discolored lines on the interior ceiling metal. The rafters had been smoldering for about a day -- never and open flame but three or four rafters were reduced to charcoal. Judicious coordination with the fire department allowed a minimum of water damage to be sustained. The culprit was an overheated ballast in a fixture fastened to the ceiling. If was of course fastened under the rafters. The fixture wasn't that old (a few years) and the fixtures have always been on a 10 year replace-it-even-if-it-still-works schedule. Makes one think seriously about never fastening a fixture to the ceiling.
hex -30-
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Especially if it isn't specifically rated for it. Most fixtures aren't designed to be attached directly to a flammable surface. Did somebody ignore the specs?
hex wrote:

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No, the fixture was rated for direct mount (8' commercial cold-start). As I said it's a welding shop so the interior is all lined with steel siding. The heat was sufficient to start the rafters on the the side of the steel smoldering.
M Berger wrote:

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On Tue, 25 Jul 2006 20:09:59 -0400, "Bill"
I had accumulated a bunch of those cheap "shop lights" (approx. 7-9$) that were inoperative, the remaining ones weren't far behind so I gutted them all and put a "replacement" ballast on the top of each fixture. I didn't know it then, but standard replacement ballasts are often better built than what they replace, due to the fact that the manufacturers want to have a single ballast replace as many standard units as possible. Therefore, they usually built replacement ballasts beefy enough to easily replace a wide range of unique ballasts. Mine cost about 11$ each at HD, after wiring them in I never had any flicker or slow starts in winter and they made the tubes last longer since they actually shut off the starter after the bulb lights, whereas many cheezy shop lights let the "heaters" run at a lower current level all the time. (witness many of your shop lights with black bands on the inside of the ends of the tubes where the heater filament has been burning...) The weakest link in my lights then became the "tombstones", or the end pieces that the tubes twist in to.
Now, if I need a shop light I make it from scratch, using replacement "tombstones" on the ends and a "replacement" ballast, for the basic frame of the light I use a 2x4 for the "backbone that the ballast mounts to and a 8" galvanized exhaust duct that is made to hook together at the seam. Mount the "unhooked" flue to the bottom of the 2x4, use 2 - 8" half rounds of mdf for end pieces and you have a galvanized reflector housing the "tombstones" for the tubes to mount into, suspend them from the ceiling with light chain and screw hooks. No flicker, or buzzing just good quality fluorescent lighting. I have even added "diffusers" made from the "ice" pattern plastic cut to fit and clipped to the reflector.
In addition, it seems that the "whiter" light (4000 Kelvin) puts out a more usable light than the "soft whites", but they cost a buck or two more. I really notice a difference so That is all I use. Hope this helps, regards, Joe.
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Interesting. Post some pics over on the binary site or post a link of some pics Joe.
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Define cheap. Define pricey. Last year I bought a couple in Home Depot for $15. I thought that was cheap. Lowes lists two models for less than $20. http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId3982-57299-8055SS&lpage=none
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I don't know if this is what you're looking for or if this too much, but here goes . . .
I recently installed a few 4' florescent "shop lights". These are the type that handle two 4' bulbs (T12 I believe they're called) come with a small length of chain, are designed to be hung via hooks, and have a cord with a standard 3 prong 110/120 VAC plug.
I got these at Home Depot for about $8 and some change. These come with the chain, but you have to supply your own hooks for the ceiling. What I didn't realize, until after I got one of them hung, was they have no switch. A second trip back to HD and I purchased a couple of pull string switches (about $3 and some change) and then wired those into the shop lights. So, the total cost for each shop light wound up being about $12 each.
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On Mon, 29 May 2006 06:49:30 GMT, "R. Pierce Butler"

Menard's has them for as low as $6, but I wish I hadn't have bought them. Had the things in my shop for less than a year, and over half the ballasts have failed.
Probably not the best idea to go cheap, I'm now in the process of slowly and painfully replacing the cheap crap with the good ones I should have gotten in the first place.
Just my $.02.
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On Mon, 29 May 2006 07:49:30 +0000, R. Pierce Butler wrote:

You could try www.freecycle.org a web based movement for people to give stuff to other interested parties rather than sending stuff to the landfill.
Thrift stores sometimes have them also, especially Habitat for Humanity stores if there is one near you. Although I have helped Habitat strip a few houses that were to be bulldozed for saleable items and Habitat spurns fluorescents cause they don't sell well at their stores. I was able to snag several since Habitat didn't want them.
Neal
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On Mon, 29 May 2006 06:49:30 GMT, "R. Pierce Butler"

Given the failure rates of the cheap ballasts, the cheap brittle plastic of the sockets that breaks the first time you have to change a bulb, and the inevitable annoying buzz of a cheap fixture, you might consider another way. In my 2 car garage I 've put up 5 warehouse type lamps (at about ten bucks apiece) and put screw-in flourescent "bulbs" into them. The "bulbs" are the 100W incandescent equivalent that use about 25W each, and they illuminate the entire space very well. I got a 5-pack from Sam's Club for (I think) about 12 bucks. To illuminate the area as well with the long tubes I'd need at least two fixtures and be consuming more energy at 80W per fixture. There's no buzz either.
Cliff
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