OT; Shop lights ballasts

Ok, went into my shop last week, flicked on the overhead lights and damn, two of my lights are out.
Changed the bulbs (T8s) and still nothing. I remembered that one of the fixtures that's hidden behind the overhead door, so I never see it, had a bad ballast. (I never replaced it because the door hides the light - I blame the electrician for putting it there, but so it goes). So, I'm assuming that I've got 3 lights out because of bad ballasts. I bought some replacements via eBay on Monday, so I'm planning to swap them out Friday. But ask, is this normal for those "garage light specials" sold at local home centers? Anyone else have similar problems? Or did I have a run of bad luck?
The lights were bought and installed about 7 years ago. They are NOT used all the much. Not as much as other fluorescent fixtures in the house.
MJ
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On Tue, 24 Jul 2012 11:03:23 -0700, MJ wrote:

That's normal for cheap shop lights. And it's usually cheaper to replace the whole light than to buy a decent ballast.
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On Wed, 25 Jul 2012 00:03:34 +0000 (UTC), Larry Blanchard

But then you still have a cheap ballast.
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wrote:

Your ahead to pay extra for a commercial grade of fixture. Ballasts will last longer and generally have a better output.
Mike M
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On 7/25/12 4:25 PM, Mike Marlow wrote:

We must be buying the same lights. :-) First batch didn't last 18 months. This batch is going on several years.
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On Wed, 25 Jul 2012 11:07:36 -0700, Mike M

I too have had bad history with the fixtures from HD and Lowes. I didn't buy the real cheapies, but the next grade up. I have 20+ of them, 2 tube with reflectors, going on 3-4 years. Half of them at least have failed, and there are two dark now.
I read online that there was supposedly a "bad batch" of ballasts but a couple of the replacement fixtures I bought more recently have also failed.
My big gripe is the fixture manufacturer doesn't typically warrant the ballast. Dealing with the ballast manufacturer was an exercise in frustration.
The other issue is knowing whether a fixture is commercial grade or just more expensive. For example, looking at grainger or McMaster, one of them sells Lithonia, the same brand I bought at the Borg. How do I know it has a better grade of ballast? They are 2-4x the price but that's not a reliable indicator.
I'm moving my shop to other side of basement and plan to put in new fixtures. I will be really, really pissed if I pay $80-100+ for 4 tube wrap fixtures and they don't last any longer than the borg variety at less than half the price.
Anyone bought Lithonia from Mc-Granger and can report?
Paul F.
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Paul,
I'd ask around at some electrical supply shops what they have. No, not at the Borg or any similar place, there's got to be an electrical supply center in your city or close to it.
What you probably want are the "factory" or what I would call "the pro" lights. They would go into a commercial building.
I looked at those lights on-line and found them to be in the range you're talking about. You might ask around some places where you know people and ask them about their lights. Chances are they only have to replace the lights so often and not the ballasts.
MJ
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On Saturday, July 28, 2012 4:42:20 PM UTC-7, MJ wrote:

Bingo! The local supply center that sells to electricians is likely to have more and more current info than we web denizens, and you'll have a top-notch ballast the same day.
I've liked Motorola ballasts, but brands and models change too fast for anyone but the pros to have any good handle on quality.
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[...snip...]

[...snip...] I did a new workshop/garage install about 10 years ago; I bought 4' T8 shop lights from Home Depot with electronic ballasts. All of the ballasts failed within about 18 months.
I replaced the ballasts with some Internet name brand like GE or similar and have had no problems since. I think I was in the $12 range for the new ballasts, so it was cheaper than buying new fixtures.
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On Wed, 01 Aug 2012 19:10:47 -0700, Jim Weisgram

ISTM that it's cheaper to buy lower cost fixtures then replace ballasts with decent ones as they fail. Buying a higher priced fixture doesn't necessarily get a better ballast.
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