This is one of those long tube flourescents. 2 weeks ago I thought the
bulbs were dead but when I was opening up the cover they came back on. I
thought I wiggled something that was loose and that was the end of the
story. But now they're out again. Could it be that something is loose or is
this the way flourescents die - some times on some times off?
Third possibility- could be the feed wires in the housing above the
reflector. Many flourescent fixtures are real cheap POS's. I have had to
open up and fix connections in several over the years. A couple were so
crappy looking when I opened them up, that all I could do was shudder, throw
in dumpster, and go buy a new one. Had a couple in the basement here, just
last yeart, that were leaking 60hz into the metal of the reflector- that
tingly sensation when you touch it? Being a sometimes damp basement, and a
laundry room to boot, I decided I could afford to replace them. Be
especially wary of any homeowner-installed fixtures.
Izzat the kind of starter which has a little hole in the top you can see
the neon glow thru?
I can believe that light coming in through that hole could produce a
photoelectric effect which could trigger ionization in a nearly defunct
I just reminded myself that in the early days of the cold war I made a
"geiger counter" out of little more that a couple of "B" batteries and a
NE51 neon bulb biased just below its ionization threshold.
Radioactivity would cause it to fire off and cause a "click" in a pair
of headphones. <G>
Yup, although I usually see a purplish glow, maybe argon. But I did
once see a starter with neon.
I have seen a few that are defunct enough to get cranky that way without
even having been used a lot. Some have radioactive material added to them
to help here, and I remember when some 2-pin ballastless compact
fluorescents (starters also built in) came in packages saying they had so
many picocuries of whatever it was they used. Those were some of the ones
of types PL-9 / F9TT, PL-13 / F13TT, and the like.
Some neon lamps had krypton-85. Others had a "Penning mixture" mixture
of neon and argon that started more easily and had lower voltage drop, but
glowed more dimly (and oddly of a different color but not towards the
color of argon - they glowed a less reddish shade of orange). Neon glow
lamps that had neither feature often got cranky and flickery once they got
lots of operating hours, and when they did that they worked better in
As for why no fluorescent lamp starters that simply work as easily as
neon lamps? I think there is some extra "black art" in getting the
starter to not bypass current around the lamp, or not bypass all of it,
when that inductive kick occurs, but the starter has to start at line
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
I would not limit it to those two. It is often the contacts at each end
of the lamp, or a bad ground or any other reasons.
I would suggest that if the lamps are old (Usually show darkening at the
ends of the tube) they likely need to be replaced anyway so that would be a
good place to start.
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