Shop lighting: magnetic or electronic ballasts?

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I am going to install new flourescent lights in my shop. Do electronic ballasts really have no hum like I read somewhere.
Any reason to choose electronic ballasts over magnetic besides noise?
Brian Elfert
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Mine are 100%, absolutely, totally, definitely, for sure, QUIET. Besides which, they weren't even expensive! The bulbs have lasted since I installed them about a year or so ago. Before that I was replacing bulbs left and right.
Dave
Brian Elfert wrote:

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Quieter, more efficient.
And, most will work just fine when the garage is COLD, the magnetics flicker and flash until they warm up.

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In my neck of the woods. The smaller electronic ballasts are easier and less expensive to replace when the time comes. The ones we use at work, your just inserting the wire into a conector, versus having to wire nut all the connections. They're idoit proof.
The only drawback - they last a long time - but when they go, they just go. No prolonged humming to keep reminding you about changing that ballast.
Personally, if your talking new lighting and you are, I would look at low voltage halogen. It's a pure light, no color shifts like you get with Fluorescent. It's bright without being an uncomfortable brightness "Like you get with the fluorescent daylight tubes".
If you have a chance go into a lighting showroom and see the differences between the two products. It's worth the time.
Pat
On Sat, 26 Mar 2005 05:56:09 -0700, "Bill B"

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This is for my workshop. Wouldn't halogen create heat like crazy and run my electric bill up? Has something changed in halogen technology?
I've been switching to compact flourescent for lights in the rest of the house that are used a lot. I find the light quality is fine once the bulbs warm up for 15 to 20 seconds. It may be coincidence, but my last electric bill was down by 1/3 from last year and the outside temps were 5 degrees colder than last year.
Brian Elfert
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I just installed 8' flourescent fixtures in my new shop - electronic balasts, each with 4, 4' T-8 bulbs. They fixtures are quiet, start up in the cold, and according to the seller, the new T-8 bulbs last far longer than the older bulbs. Also, they have more light output. Inexpensive fixtures as well. . .
Rick http://www.thunderworksinc.com
Brian Elfert wrote:

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I am finding the fixtures with electronic ballasts seem to cost about 20% more or so if you are looking at decent fixtures.
Nothing compares pricewise with the $10 shop lights you can find, but those are generally junk. Home Depot does have a $8 shop light with electronic ballast, but I am sure it is junk.
I bought three 2x4 troffer fixtures with electronic ballasts at Lowes, but I can't find 2x2 troffer fixtures with electronic ballasts at any home imporovement or home lighting store.
Brian Elfert
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I have installed dropped ceilings where the customer originally planned on 2x2 light fixture but balked at the fixture and bulb price. You may need to go to a real lighting store to get the 2x2 or else special order from the chain store.
http://www.brite-lite.com/Products/c_series.html http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2003-36,GGLD:en&q=2x2+fluorescent+fixture&spell=1

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I tried a bunch of regular lighting stores and none of them had troffer light fixtures except special order. I even tried the largest lighting store in the metro area and they don't carry troffers period. (I figured they would have them as a stock item.) One other lighting store that looked promising wasn't open.
I'm now considering going back to 2x4 as your comments on price make sense. The 2x2 fixtures are going to cost at least as much as the 2x4s, plus the bulbs cost almost four times as much.
The reason I wanted to use some 2x2s is because I am using the Ceiling Max grid system that screws to the floor joists. I have floor trusses every 24 inches, so the lights will fit in between. Obstacles running through the floor trusses means 2x4s have to be placed in an odd pattern to fit where 2x2s can go in a straight line.
I just realized that troffer type light fixtures might not work period. I'll have to try one of the 2x4s I already bought.
Brian Elfert
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wrote:

Home Depot, Lowe's, and Menards keep them in stock.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Doug Miller wrote:

I did T-8 lighting in my shop last fall. It has worked out very, very well. I recommend buying high color rendition bulbs. I bought mine at www.goodmart.com for a very reasonable price. The light quality is superior and has made longer days in the shop much more enjoyable.
GL
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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) writes:

Not 2x2 troffers with electronic ballast. They do have 2x4 troffers with electronic ballast. They all have 2x2 troffers with magnetic ballast.
Home Depot has them on their web site for web site orders only, but they are $70 each.
Brian Elfert
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wrote:

My shop lights have magnetic ballasts. I can't hear them over the noise of the dust collector, or through my ear protectors even if there are no power tools running.
As others have noted, there are good reasons for using electronic ballasts, but IMO the noise level of magnetic ballasts is not an important consideration in a shop.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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wrote:

Well, speaking for myself, there are often times when I'm in the shop when (gasp) no power tools are running. Personally, I got tired of listening to 60-cycle hum and put in T8 fixtures with electronic ballasts.
todd
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I too often have such times, but I usually have a radio on, and don't really notice the hum much. Just a matter of personal preference.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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On Sat, 26 Mar 2005 16:45:11 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

I'd consider the one's they're talking about (t8???)just to get rid of the "winter time flickers".. The shop in the morning looks like a friggin light show..
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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I have electronic ballasts in my unheated basement where I have my shop. It gets down to 50 some nights in the winter. Never a flicker with electronic ballasts. I will never have anything else.
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On Wed, 30 Mar 2005 20:01:06 -0500, "Dick Snyder"

thanks, Dick.. I'll pick some up...

mac
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I installed T8 fixtures in my new garage shop last fall. The heat did not "go in" until Feb and the units lit up like incandescents. They take a little while to get to full brightness and heat, not that its in, does help them get there faster.
They do cause some radio interference on my favorite radio station - a very high pitched whine. That may be because the radio is on a shelf right up by the ceiling.
I choose the T8s not because of the startup, but because they are supposed to produce more light for less money. Just a Scotsman I guess.
Dick Snyder wrote:

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I switched my shop to electronic ballasts because of the cold start problem. Many electronic ballasts will start even at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. My old super cheap shop lights that came with the house would flicker for ten minutes until they warmed up. Oh, and they eat bulbs too.
Not all electronic ballasts are silent. I have some that hum a little bit. I've taken to buying fixtures with magnetic ballasts and immediately replacing them with electronic ballasts of my choice in order to get something well behaved. A decent electronic ballast can be had for $15 or so. The pins on T12s and T8s are exactly the same, so you can retrofit magnetic ballast fixtures with electronic ballasts. (Maybe if your fixture has starters you'd have trouble.) Another thing to be aware of with electronic ballasts is that you can get special high output ones that give more light from the same bulbs, and also special low output ones that save you energy and give you less light from the same bulbs.
Regarding color quality, there are two factors to be aware of when you buy bulbs. One is the color temperature. If you get 3000 K bulbs you will have yellow light, like you get from an incandescent. If you get 5000 K bulbs you will have bluer light, more like daylight. I have the 5000 K bulbs in my windowless basement shop.
Regarding light quality you need to look at the color rendering index or CRI. This indicates whether the light is of good quality. Somehow CRI measures how well the spectrum is filled out. (I have never found a satisfactory explanation of what EXACTLY it means.) Incandescent lights have a CRI of 100 which is the best possible.
The quality of the light has no intrinsic connection to whether you are using T8's, T12's, T5's or anything else about the shape of the bulb. They can make bulbs in any shape to have whatever light characteristics they want. It does appear that not much is available in T12s. I use T8s that have a CRI of 86 which seems to be adequate. I believe that T5's might be more efficient than T8's, but probably not enough that you'd really see the difference in your electric bill. (The jump from magnetic ballasts running two T12's at 80 W to an electronic ballast that gives the same light running two T8's at 54 W is much bigger.)
If you experience radio interference you might try switching to a different brand or even just a different model of electronic ballast. Electronic ballasts operate at much higher frequencies than the old magnetic ones which is why they don't flicker or hum. If they happen to be leaking at the frequency of your radio station you can get interference. Advance makes a ballast called PowrKut that is specifically designed not to generate radio interference.
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