I have an older 18" fluorescent lamp that takes a 15WT8 bulb. As of this
morning, it no marcha. I suspect the starter switch, which is your glass-
tube type and is pretty black inside.
The problem is, I can't find any 15W starter switches at any location close
to me. I can, however, cheaply and easily find a white, cylindrical starter
switch that says, "13w, 30w, 40w" on it.
Can I use this "13w, 30w, 40w" switch with my 15w lamp?
Should be able to - the worst that can happen is it will STILL be
And when you say "older" you should REALLY be saying OLD.
It's been a couple of decades since a "starter" has been used on a
What puzzled me is that specific wattages were indicated, rather than an
upper-and-lower range of wattages. This suggested to me that there was some
characteristic of the starter that rendered it functional--or safely
functional--only at those specific wattages.
I am, as you may be able to tell, not an electronics expert. But I know
enough to be able to keep from electrocuting myself, and from setting fire
to my surroundings.
(I have now also asked my question in sci.electronics.repair, where I fully
expect to be inflicted with 3rd-degree burns for having failed to ask an
intelligent question. I invite you to amuse yourself by following my
progress in that group...)
The fixture is a GE unit that's at /least/ 15-years-old and bears the
"Order Code" number "UCF18P/CND".
This picture is what I'm identifying as a "starter":
The silver thing at rear appears to be a potted coil.
On 1/6/2012 9:34 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I have a desk lamp that predates the common use of starters. Instead it
has a momentary on push button switch to turn it on. Some antique juke
boxes I work on also have a starter switch for the fluorescent lights.
I have a similar desk-lamp unit. It dates from the early-'70s. It has two
buttons: one to turn the unit ON, and one to turn it OFF. Both are
momentary switches, and you need to hold down the ON button until the unit
I do lighting as a business........35+ years........yes the starter you
mentioned will work fine.
another poster says starters havent been used in decades..........they are
full of crap.
Lowes, Home depot, pet stores (aquarium lights) still sell this type of
and these are in CURRENT PRODUCTION with fixtures of this type,
various pl lamps use built in glass type starters anything with 2 pins.
all of the above up to the 20 watt are currently available as FRESH STOCK
from any decent lighting supplier.
the 4' t-12 40 watt bi-pin and 5' F-90 t-17 have not been available since
the mid 1970's except as special order replacements.
Herb Harrison owner Harrison Lighting & Neon
ps see http://www.answers.com/topic/fluorescent-lamp
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2012 4:29 PM
Subject: Fluorescent starter-switch question
If there were, I'd figure the pins would been different sizes. Cram, twist,
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
Now, does it matter which leg of the cylindrical starter goes on which
wire? I don't have the starter yet, so I don't know if there are
designations for each pin.
nope........on TWO pin starters direction dosent matter.............many
years ago a 4 pin starter was available ( this would qualify as OLD )
anything you buy today that is close in wattage will work........at the very
worst lamp will blink but not get damaged.
I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around this.
Do the ionized gases in the tube present less resistance to current-flow
than the tiny air-gap formed as the starter contacts begin to re-open?
The glass envelope of the starter is basically a neon lamp with a
bi-metal short. When current first flows through the starter, the
bi-metal strip heats up and pulls away from the other terminal and
if current is flowing through a good florescent tube, there is enough
current/voltage to light off the neon in the starter. The heat from
the lit neon keeps the bi-metal strip hot enough to stay bent away from
the other contact. When you hear a click, click, click along with the
ends of a darkened florescent tube glowing on and off, it's usually
because the tubes have worn out and no current is flowing through the
lit tubes so the starter keeps heating up and cooling down as it tries
to heat the filaments in the tube ends to ionize the gas in the tube and
start the reaction that ionizes all the gas in the tube so it glows. The
ionized gas is what conducts electricity to keep the neon
gas in the starter lit. I hope this helps you understand how it works.
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