Today I encountered something that is either stupid design or I've
somehow missed the point.
While out shopping last night I found some nice looking flourescent
torchiere lamps on sale at a very attractive price. They had the usual
pair of "circline" flourescent bulbs and a switch for three light
levels. I decided it was time to pick up a couple and get rid of the
ancient 300 watt halogen ones (Pre safety guard models even.) sitting
around in two spare bedrooms. I had creepy feelings about some
uninformed guest drying out damp clothing by hanging it over a lit
halogen and starting a holocoust.
I got 'em home, assembled them and was pleased with the results.
This morning I went to move one and noticed that even though it had been
off all night, the electronic ballast, which was located topside in the
center of the bulbs, was noticably warm. I put my hand over the other
lamp's ballast and it too was warm.
I took one down to my workshop and measured its current draw with the
lamp off. It was a bit over 9 watts. It appears that the ballast is
powered up continuously and there's a couple of control lines which get
diddled by the switch on the lamp's column to make the bulbs turn on.
I've got a couple of other flourescent torchiers in the house which
switch line power ahead of the ballast as I'd expect.
As we're paying close to 10 cents a KWH for electricity these days, I'm
not amused by the thought of paying around $15 a year for the priviledge
of keeping those two "energy saving" lamps plugged in, nor do I want to
go to the bother of unplugging them when they're not going to be used or
installing and wiring wall switches to control the outlets they are
Those stupid lamps were returned to the store today, I'll go get ones
next week which don't waste my money when they aren't in use.
Am I missing a reason why those lamps were designed that way other than
it may have enabled the manufacturer to save a few pennies on each one?
Perhaps it's because they were made in China, a country whose policy it is
to put expedience and profits ahead of environmental concerns. I'm assuming
this is where they were made because I've been shopping for floor lamps and
in 2 months, I have not found a single one that didn't come from China.
If you liked them (other than the stupid electrical setup), you could've
installed inline foot switches, the type that go right on the power cords.
I does not sound right , it is a long term fire hazard that maybe is
unknown to UL or whatever US regulatory body aproves them. Many fires
have occured from the old style magnetic ballasts on T 12. My friends
shop went up when the lights were off, cause, power was at the balast
and it failed. Look into it, The crap from china is a blight on us all.
I understand you have basically four possible states lamp: OFF-OFF; ON-ON;
OFF-ON and ON-OFF. To obtain the result you desire requires, for example,
two double pole switches. each switch has one pole controlling the tube the
other poles are in paralle, making a logic OR to feed the ballast.
Such design approach is irresistible to the cost cutting mentality to
replace the double pole switches with cheaper single pole, a whopping $0.06
and leave the ballast under power, beside no body will notice or have the
sophistication to know the difference or care.
It is true, quality is going down, I do not mean poor construction quality
which is bad enough but the current consumer market is flodded with bad
design, inadequate material strenght, undersized everything. Is difficult
to find good product even if you are willing to pay the right price. The
cheap stuff drives the good stuff out of the market. As much as I would
like to blame the suppliers, I believe the blame is with the consumer. We
got to start refusing to buy and definitively return the poor stuff, is the
only feedback we have.
I hadn't thought of that one, but I accept that I was so pissed off by
the apparant stupidity of the design that I just HAD to take those lamps
back to the store and was prepared to "go ballistic" if they had given
me any static about the return. I felt much better when they didn't.
It's actually three states in the other circline bulb flourescent
torchiers I have. They have a "small tube" and a "big tube" and the
three switch states are; small only on, large only on, or both on, a la
the typical "3-way" lampbulb.
To obtain the result you desire requires, for example,
The other lamps have two separate skinny electronic ballasts hidden
inside the pole, with a single pole four position twist switch which
operates exactly like the one in a "3-way" incandescent lamp, except it
controls the power to the inputs of the two ballasts rather than to the
filaments of a 3-way bulb.
Given the location of those ballasts inside a piece of steel tubing, I
think it'd be a long shot that a ballast failure would ignite any
The "dual" ballast's location right in the center of the circline bulbs
in those lamps I bought and returned could possibly shoot some flames or
sparks up out of the bowl of the lamp which could ignite curtains or the
like. Especially since the electronic ballast board was inside a flimsy
plastic housing liberally sprinkled with cooling slots top and bottom.
Come to think of it it would have been a cinch for some dumbo to stick a
metal nail file through one of those slots and contact the hot side of
the line voltage. (I thought UL looked at stuff like that, but I can't
say I noticed any UL labels on those lamps.<G>)
If the majority of us didn't want to get the maximum amount of "stuff"
out of whatever income level we're at, maybody there would be enough of
us willing to purchase quality goods to make a market for it.
The extremely small number of us willing to do so now effectively
discourages the manufacture of quality merchandise, except (and for the
sake of our troops, I hope I'm right.) for military purchases.
We're flooded in crap lamps at the moment. I was at Lowe's about a month
ago, and they had a nice looking floor lamp on display, with some sort of
energy saving fluorescent bulb. But, the thing didn't work. A highly trained
sales associate looked at the bulb designation and brought a new one back
from the light bulb section. It didn't work. There were two other models in
different colors. We tried new bulbs in those, too, with no success.
Finally, I got the manager over. He explained that these lamps were "funny".
They worked fine with the bulbs included in the box, but not with
replacement bulbs which were made by G.E., who also made the originals. I
asked him why they were selling lamps which would probably become useless
after the bulbs burnt out. He said G.E. would "probably get to the bottom of
the problem at some point".
Remember how Moe used to slap Larry and Curly simultaneously in the 3
Stooges movies? I was so tempted at that moment..... :-)
Next time you're in Lowes, ask them for a coil brush suitable for their
energy-star refrigerators. Prepare to get directed to a different
department by each employee you speak to. After giving up in
frustration, leave a complaint on Lowes' website.
Someone will call you a few days later and tell you they don't sell
them. Ask me how I know all this.
Start looking at snow brushes everywhere you see a display. There's a type
that's totally useless for cars because the handle is a wooden dowel, maybe
1/2" thick. So, it tends to slip around in your hand if you're wearing
gloves. Smash & file off the scraper, and what's left is a brush that may be
useful for the refrigerator. You might have to trim the bristles.
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