Shop light saga continues

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Hey, I even tried to get 8 footers and the clerk said not only do they not have any in stock, but that they are all designed to be mounted on the ceiling, instead of hung from chains. I have a suspended ceiling in my studio, er, shop.
I'm still gonna try to get some more of those $20 sub zero start units...only need 5 more. :)
dave
Greg wrote:

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Bay Area Dave said:

I'm sure you know the difference, but just in case you misunderstood, T-8 is not an 8 foot tube, it's a smaller diameter tube than a T-12 (old style conventional). They burn a little brighter, cheaper (34 watts), and longer than the T-12 types, and are reduced mercury. In your neck of the woods, they are probably *required* by law for use in all commercial buildings.
I wish I could fit 8 footers in my stud^h^h^h^h shop - the ceiling is broken up by load-bearing engineered joists, so I'm limited to 4 footers as well - and I still need more of them. This week, more clamps won out.
Hope you get it all sorted out, however. That PM66 isn't doing you any good in the dark. ;-)
Greg G.
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Greg,
I'm off to the remaining local Orchard supply stores, armed with Mapquest. 3 stores have a total of 50 fixtures. Hopefully, at the first I'm headed to I can cull 5 good ones...
dave
Greg wrote:

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Bay Area Dave said:

Oh my God! I just went to the local BORGs and checked out what they are selling THIS month as lighting fixtures. Apparently the fluorescent lighting market has gone to hell in a handbasket.
They are selling a line of fixtures that contain a SunPark SL-15 electronic ballast, rated for use with F40T-12 and F32/T-8 bulbs. This ballast has a Power Factor of ~.50 and a Ballast Factor of ~.88. Shop lights for $7.25. They DO start to 0 degrees F, however...
What does all this mean? With a standard T-12 40 watt bulb, you are only getting 27 watts powering the lamp. With a T-8 32 watt bulb, you actually get 32 watts. The real kicker is when you calculate the line amp draw, you get .90 (T-12) or 1.07 (T-8) amps! Roughly HALF of the energy used by this monstrosity is being used to light the bulb. And the company is somehow getting an EnergyStar rating for (some of) their products.
I guess the moral of this story is: Pay now for better ballasts, or pay later in energy costs...
P.T. Barnum was right!
FWIW,
Greg G.
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On Sun, 18 Jan 2004 03:43:39 -0500, Greg G. wrote:

Greg -
I just installed 3 of these same fixtures a few weeks ago, and when I did so I actually put my tongs on them and measured the current draw.
The three fixtures together (six 32 watt T8's) are drawing a total of 1.72amps, which is just about what I would have expected - a load of 192 watts at 125V would be 1.536 amps if there were no heat losses in the ballast. These fixtures are thus about 89% efficient. For these 3 fixtures, it will take 52 hours for the heat losses in the ballasts to amount to a full kilowatt hour, which will cost me 8 cents.
You don't pay for Power Factor losses, your electric company does. You pay for wattage, and the power company has to make it's own assumptions about what your overall power factor will be. A Power Factor of .5 is right in the middle of the range for NPF ballasts - there is nothing unusual about these ballasts at all. It is probably true that the power company wouldn't like it much if your entire load consisted of these things, but they're assuming it won't. You have lots of purely resistive loads in your house (hopefully) to help offset a few appliances with poor power factors. They're big boys, let them worry about it.
IMHO, these fixtures are a deal at seven or eight bucks apiece, given that they start in cold weather, are reasonably well made with an honest to goodness replaceable ballast, and they don't consume an unreasonable amount of energy. If that makes me a sucker so be it.
Tim Carver snipped-for-privacy@twocarvers.com
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Tim Carver said:

I haven't done this, I am basing the current draw in wattage and amperage on the specs directly stated by the manufacturer's specs. By the same token, I don't entirely trust the low range amperage readings from clamp on electrician's ammeter tongs. A direct connect is more accurate at low ranges.

Do your fixtures contain the SunPark SL-15 ballasts? There are quite a few manufacturer out there, and these statements are based upon this particular ballast. They specifically state amperage of 1.07 and wattage of 128 watts in their spec sheets. It's a far cry from the .59 amps on my OSRAM ballasts. Granted these are not too unusual specs for a cheap shop light magnetic ballast, but I would have preferred better on an electronic ballast. It could even be that their spec sheets are in error - it IS a remotely managed Chinese factory.

I have no idea what fixtures YOU have, and was not targeting your claims as invalid, or that you were a sucker. <g> It was simply a reaction to what I saw at the store, and subsequent research on the products. Many of the 'electronic ballasts' fixtures on the market are a few transistors, diodes, caps and resistors on a cheap PCB, along with 2 cheap open-frame transformers. They eat bulbs, burn out, and the ballasts are not replaceable. The fact that your particular devices have discreet ballasts and work is certainly a bonus.
The BORGs think I am nuts when I take apart their units in the store to determine what I am actually getting...
I built the 6 tube hood on my 75 gal. planted aquarium with T-8s and electronic ballasts. Each ballast draws .59 amps with 2 T-8 bulbs and has a factor of >.98. They barely get warm, and the bulbs last for years - but I pull them from the tanks and put them in the shop every 6 months or so.
FWIW,
Greg G.
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On Mon, 19 Jan 2004 00:08:29 -0500, Greg G. wrote:

I suppose that's possible, but I'd bet money that the tongs are accurate within a couple of percent. They give consistent readings on other things I've tried them on. For example, the magnetic ballasts on my HO 8 footers show about 2 amps per ballast for twin 110 watt bulbs, right at 90% efficient which is just about what I would expect.

Yes, and they do indeed have the amp draw you noted (1.07) printed right on the label for 2 32 watt bulbs. Nonetheless, the actual draw is far less. Perhaps they're stating the draw at startup, or something.

The 1.72 A I measured for all 3 ballasts works out to about .573 amps or 71 watts (again, at 125V), which is right in there with your OSRAM ballasts. I just think this 1.07A thing may be some sort of spec interpretration thing (startup, etc) or maybe a translation error at the factory. The .5 Power Factor and .88 Ballast Factor you quote (BTW, where was this, I didn't see it anywhere) are right in line with other normal power factor ballasts. Nothing great, but again the fixtures are only 7 bucks or so.

Thanks for the <g>. A lot of people on this group make tossoff comments about how people that don't share their opinions are dumbasses or suckers and such. I just get tired of it sometimes, and I had just gotten yet another comment like that on another thread that I should have responded to and I chose instead to hold my fire, so I was feeling a little grumpy and took a shot.

The jury is still out on whether they're going to eat bulbs. I've certainly seen that happen on another 4 foot fixture with T8's that I have in our pantry. But that one is a pretty expensive fixture, so I'm not sure where the problem really lies with these electronic ballasts, I think they just need to be refined a bit more. I'm hoping these cheapos pan out, I'm planning to load up on them if they do. I bought the previous generation of cold weather shoplites at HD for the back room of my shop, and I got burned; most of the ballasts failed at a few months, and those cost a lot more than these cheapies. Fortunately, I did the main room of my shop in 8' HO's, those puppies have been as good a gold for a couple of years now of nearly constant use, except that 2 of my 9 ballasts failed very early and had to be replaced.

Then you might be interested in a link I found from a gardener about these SunPark ballasts. He is "overdriving" them (using one ballast per bulb) to get extra bright lighting for growing stuff (didn't look too closely at what, might be something DEA is interested in :-)). The link is http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/lights/msg111229472000.html My takeway from reading this is that people will try to hotrod absolutely ANYTHING! Note that I'm not suggesting doing this overdriving thing, I just thought it was amusing that somebody would try it.
BTW, is there a reason you didn't separate the ballasts out in a metal box outside the hood? You still are putting a couple of hundred watts of heat into the area under the hood, between all 3 ballasts.

Tim Carver snipped-for-privacy@twocarvers.com
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Tim Carver said:

The ballast information is available in the SunPark spec sheets (PDF) available at: http://www.sunpkco.com/index.html

You're welcome, and I certainly understand. I don't generally resort to ad hominem attacks for differences of opinion. ;-)

I saw this last year - makes you wonder, eh? A bulb life of 3 months doesn't interest me, however. It was interesting to note that when I did a search for that ballast number, all that came up were a dozen marihuana growing links!
Years ago, I constructed a solid-state dimmable fluorescent ballast for a particular specialty machine I was building. There were none on the market at the time, and I experimented quite a bit with overdriving tubes and such. The life span and heat issues caused me to abandon overdriven tubes. Of course, now you can BUY dimmable ballasts - they are really cool!

The ballast were purchase individually, not part of a fixture. They are mounted on top of a barrier in the hood, over the lights, and are vented through equipment vents with convection passages to the light's ends. Remember, they are high power factor ballasts (.99) and actually generate no heat to speak of, and what little does occur is immediately vented to the room. It was to keep the wiring simple and compact. The other reason is that most electronic ballasts operate in the 20kHz to 44kHz range, and generate RFI. I didn't want to make their antennae any longer than necessary! I tried the remote thing with some older Magnatek ballasts years ago, and it was like having a 'death-star' radiating RFI into every radio, amplifier, intercom, and Hi-Fi VCR in the house. Line hash filters didn't help - it was coming from the secondary leads. I didn't want to go there again. I have absolutely no problem with heat from the ballasts, only the tubes - and I don't believe putting them in a metal box would accomplish my goals.. ;-)
FWIW,
Greg G.
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Davey-Boy, I've been following this 'thread' for a bit . . . maybe the 'problem' is a 'Coastal' thing?
I live on the 'other Coast' . . . or at least about 60 miles from it . . . Philly suburbs. My shop is in the back yard, unheated, and we have the household heat turned down, and I've closed most of the vents to the basement & it's 'auxiliary' shop.
It is plain COLD in the shop and definitely 'cool' in the basement. The 'big fixtures' in the 'shop' were there when we moved in . . . maybe 25 years ago. A couple of them are still there, although I've changed to 'lamps' a couple of times. I replaced the single-bulb incandescent fixtures with a couple of 2-lamp fixtures I got used from a store that was remodeling. A while ago I installed about 4 more 4-foot 'El Cheapo' Borg fixtures in the shop, and got a quantity of 'El Cheapo' lamps to go with them.
Anyhow, what usually happens with me, the lamps simply 'dim out' with age. The fixture - the I-don't-know-how-old-when-I-got-it-used - finally 'died' {I could smell the ballast 'cooking'} after I had it 20+ years. Replaced it with a Borg 'El Cheapo'. Do I get a slight 'flicker' when it's cold in the shop ? . . . yes. Usually lasts until they warm up or I get the stove fired up. Do they 'flicker' in the basement . . . Yes and No. The one by the far wall, over the sink & near the window does, yet the one over the bench by the door doesn't, nor the one over the bench on the back wall doesn't either. {I think the one is simply a loose or oxidized lamp contact}.
FWIW . . . Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop

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Ron, I spent part of today in 2 Orchard Supply stores. I opened (with the staff's help) ALL of the 23 fixtures they had in stock. I found 5 that weren't broken! I put them up this afternoon and must say if they work for a few years as they are today it'll be worth the aggravation. They are brighter than all the other fixtures I've used. Totally silent, of course, and rated to work below zero. Plus the way the bulbs light instantly instills confidence that perhaps these fixtures won't eat up bulbs like there's no tomorrow! :)
dave
Ron Magen wrote:

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Dave, Are you buying shop lights? Apparently, there is a difference in what's known as 'shop lights' and strip lighting. Get the Lithonia strip lighting that works with electronic ballasts and not magnetic. Then they should work fine with the T-8 lights. Matt
Bay Area Dave wrote:

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Go with 3 watts per sq ft. In a shop with dust and vapors, that is about the right light. Especially if you have 9 or 10 foot ceilings. I have a 100 watt equal. spiral fluor. light bulb for an incadescent fixture that blinds me at 3 feet. Are they all that bright?
wrote:

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Dave -
As I said, these aren't Lithonias. They are made by "Commercial Electric" or some such. You're spending 3x the price for fixtures that are giving you a lot of trouble, I'm telling you, these are pretty good. They have real, replaceable electronic ballasts, they start in cold weather, they work for either T8's or T12's. I'm using them with T8's, they seem to work fine. My sample of 3 is no guarantee, but no broken sockets, no burened out bulbs, and they actually seem to be pretty well made. Just take a look, maybe they'll save you some time and money.
Tim Carver snipped-for-privacy@twocarvers.com
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Tim, at the HD that I went to they had the same brand that I took back due to dimness. I got them around a year ago. I think I bought about 4 to 6 and immediately returned them. The bulbs burned much less brightly (40W) than the other fixtures I had. Maybe with different types of bulbs they work better.
I got what I needed today and have installed them and they give the brightest light of any brand of fixtures I've used.
dave
Tim Carver wrote:

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Nope, cause I bought my fixtures and lamps from an electrical supply house almost 10 years ago. Just last week I had to replace a set of lamps. I would always replace in pairs. I haven't got the foggiest idea what an Orchard Supply is, but if they don't specialize in electrical stuff, I aint real sure I'd buy light fixtures from 'em, maybe apples or oranges. <G>
--
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They're just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh."
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