Try another starter. What is the actual wattage of the lamp? You can
use alligator clip jumpers to try another starter or to short across
the connection for a second to heat the filaments in the lamp and
see if it will start. You can use jumpers to try all sorts of parts
in the circuit. The most value that you get from this is the learning
experience. I've had people admonish me for working on something that's
not worth the trouble because anyone could buy a new one for little
money. I've even gone to thrift stores and bought junk so I could take
it apart to learn how it works, I consider it entertainment.
The lamp is a G24q-2 dual tube 18W. The glob bulb I cannibalized was from a GE
brand FS-2 starter still in a sealed bubble card. I will try to short across
the connections when I get a little break in my work schedule.
On Mon, 26 Apr 2010 06:35:58 -0500, The Daring Dufas
As a kid I scavenged anything I could find that didn't work and took
it apart to find out how it was supposed to work and why it didn't -
and fixed it if I could.
Not a whole lot different as retirement looms
Second childhood? It's the freaks like us who will survive when
the world goes to hell. I have trouble identifying with someone
who's only skill is shuffling papers and doesn't know a hammer
from a screwdriver. I get hold of things all the time that were
discarded because of some simple, easily repaired problem. I've
rescued $100.00 computer motherboards that had a blown keyboard
fuse or a kitchen appliance that popped a thermal protector. It
never ceases to amaze me about the perfectly good items I find
in the trash. My last microwave was left outside a dumpster and
it had the manual with it, there was absolutely nothing wrong
with the thing. I think someone was moving and tossed a fairly
This is a bit of a surprise to me. I have a fair amount of experience
with homebrewing and hacking of preheat fluorescent lamp fixtures, and the
behavior suggests to me that the starter is re-glowing too easily from the
voltage needed to fire the lamp.
This may be from the ballast skimping on current - that can make
starting crankier, and then the fixture can get fussier about starters.
You may be able to fix this by using a different FS-2 or FS-2 variant
starter, preferably one rated to start 22 watt lamps (along with lower
Also, proper grounding may make a difference. Did you remove any during
your troubleshooting and repair attempt?
Winding a few turns of bare wire around the bulb, over the filaments,
has some chance of making the bulb easier to fire. This has to do with
capacitive coupling through the glass, so that a very small amount of
current does not have to go through the full length of the bulb. That may
make the gas in the bulb "break down" more easily.
There is even a remote chance that reversing the leads of the starter
will make things better. If ionization in the bulb occurs more easily on
one half-cycle of AC than the other due to polarity of the electrode on
the "hot side", then reversing the leads of the starter may make a
difference. I have seen starters having a polarity when used with DC.
Also try reversing the plug, to reverse hot and neutral, if the plug
blades are the same width. (I forget already whether or not you said the
plug blades were equal width or not.) And check for hot-neutral reverse
at your outlet - that does affect a few cranky fluorescent fixtures.
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
He could have two problems, a bad starter and a bad ballast. He has
eliminated the bulb since it worked in an identical light fixture.
Perhaps borrowing the ballast from a known good fixture? It may be
a lot work but I would do it out of curiosity.
Yeah, it would be interesting, but I don't want to investing that much effort.
Besides, just my luck I'd break off one of the wires where it enters the sealed
ballast unit and end up having to trash both fixtures!
I'm already coming close to my threshold for just giving up. The problem is
that these fixtures tend to run $60 - $120 and I'm only using it as a
supplemental local lighting source adjacent to my computer table. I'm thinking
of just getting a <$10 USB LED lamp even though with all the clutter next to the
monitor, there's not a lot of room for something else on the desk top (CRT
monitor, so a clip-on lamp to the monitor frame is not an option).
A starter momentarily shorts across its leads. Hard to remember, I think
someone suggested momentarily shorting the leads to see if the lamps
light. That should give you a definitive answer of whether the ballast
is OK. If that works you could replace the starter with a push button.
In some old fixtures that is how the lamps were started - you push and
hold the "on" button for a couple seconds and then release it.
If you post the same question to multiple groups use crossposting.
I'll make sure to momentarily short across where I have the starter connected
(after I remove it) to make sure the ballast is good, before potentially wasting
time/money for a glowbulb from a starter with a higher rating than the FS-2 I
tried. However, as you say, it may be easier to drill a hole in the shell of
the fixture near the base of the bulb socket and install a SPST normally open
push button switch. If so, what voltage and/or current rating should I look for
to avoid ruining the switch contacts with normal use?
P.S. I use Mozilla's Thunderbird as my e-mail/usenet client. Thunderbird does
not allow cross posting.
I found time last night to snip out the FS-2 innards I tried to use to replace
the apparently defective original glow bulb and did the shorting across the
starter wire experiment. The lamp lit and glowed normally (no flicker). So,
the ballast is good.
That leaves me with either knowing which common starter's glow bulb to slavage,
or trying to wire in a push button SPST normally open switch with ?? sufficient
rating (to avoid rapidly ruining the contacts).
Again, to summarize, this is a 4 pin rapid start 18W G24q-2 lamp (MaxLite model
It's not rapid start if it has a starter, that setup is referred to as
preheat start. The lamps designed for one setup will usually work with
the other, although lifespan may be decreased.
FS-4 is the higher voltage starter intended for 30-40W T12 tubes, I
suspect it will do nicely here. That and the FS-2 are about all you can
find easily anymore anyway.
If you go with the button, something rated 250VAC at 1A ought to hold up
Thanks so much for the correction and the guidance. I think I'll go with the
switch. I'll try the FS-4 glow bulb first, as soon as I can get to my local HD.
The switch is a more certain fix but there is really no room for it
(clearances are very close between the lamp socket and its enclosure, and even
if I found room, the socket enclosure and shade have a small radius of curvature
and no flat surface on which to mount the switch).
As far as grounding is concerned, I did not need to remove any special
grounding, and replaced everything exactly as it had been, including the foil
lined rotating shade, only substituting the cannibalized innards of the FS-2
starter for the glow bulb that I removed. (The original glow bulb did not glow
when I applied power. The one from the FS-2 glows lavender). This has become a
long thread with multiple side arms. You probably missed some of my previous
posts were I stated that the fixture's power plug is 2 prong polarized, and I've
checked the wall receptacle with a 3 neon lamp circuit tester designed to detect
open grounds, open neutrals, reversed connections, etc. (it checks "correct
One clue that I failed to mention to date is that the original glow bulb was
substantially larger (both longer and greater diameter) than the one from the
FS-2. Does that help you make a recommendation to me of which model starter I
should purchase and cannibalize to try in place of the one from the FS-2?
On Sat, 24 Apr 2010 20:10:54 -0500, The Daring Dufas
You are right - I was wrong - it is not a simple NE2 bulb - Long time
since starters were common, and as a kid we used to canibalize
starters to use the glow tube in place of NE2 bulbs for things like
No problem, I like being corrected so I can learn. Heck, I have no
fear of terrorists because as a small boy, I had Irish nuns for
teachers. They used tactile and extreme audio correction. I still
have knots on my head dating from the middle of the last century.
No, do not use an NE-2. Use the bulb that can be gutted from an FS-2
A starter bulb has a bimetal strip that bends from the heat of the glow
discharge in it, and temporarily shorts. This is explained in Sam
Goldwasser's Fluorescent Lamp/Fixture FAQ. I have a copy (possibly older
but definitely relevant) at:
Official copies are available somewhere in www.repairfaq.org and
http://repairfaq.cis.upenn.edu . Look, I found one:
Do a text search in one of these for "Fluorescent Starter Operation".
The NE-2 is a neon lamp that is intended only to take current amounting
to less than 1 milliamp. If it is substituted for a starter in an 18 watt
120V fluorescent fixture, it will conduct somewhere in the ballpark of 300
milliamps. It is unlikely to get the fluorescent lamp started, and will
definitely suffer serious damage within seconds. It could even break in
as little as 10's of seconds.
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
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