I temporarily set up some 4 foot 2 lamp flourescent lights in a workshop
that I'm building in my backyard. This evening temp was about 60 and one
light did not want to come one. Yesterday the temp was a bit warmer and I
did not have any trouble. I've heard that these lights do not work very
well when the temperature drops below 50 degress F.
I live in South Louisiana and the temps in the winter are known to get in
the 20's and 30's on occasion. I don't want to worry about lights not coming
on when I would like to be in the shop tinkering during the slow winter
What other type lights besides incandescent is recommended. I do not want
to pay an arm and a let either.
Cha, what you need do is rub somm graton grease on dem contax. Light dem up
Where you at in Southern Louisiana? I lived in Lafayette for seven years,
and thoroughly enjoyed it. Been at every boat landing and heliport from
Venice, Louisiana to Freeport, Texas.
Miss dat food!
Been through Patterson many times on the way south to Morgan City, Houma,
Grand Isle, etc.
I was telling you to use some grease from those delicious "craklins" that
are made in So. Louisiana. Don't know if it will work or not, but it gives
you an excuse to go get two pounds of craklins to eat in the shop. Don't
forget the Miller ponies either.
Most such lamps need a good ground, with out that starting is
The cheap ones are not designed for cold weather and will not last long,
be less efficient and will likely hum and or flicker.
Get lights rated for cold weather. They will generally have electronic
rather than magnetic ballast. The most efficient ones are usually T-8
All you have to do is check the amp/watt draw of standard ballast and of one
that is rated for zero degrees. Since they light the same lamp the
difference is the heater.
Heater may be an over simplification.
Because the bulbs need extra voltage to start at lower temperatures.
The concentration of mercury vapor in fluorescent bulbs has significant
effect on their operation at room temperature and even at freezing
temperatures, and varies all too significantly with temperature.
As for how significant is mercury in the workings of fluorescent bulbs?
At ideal temperature, the mercury vapor is at most a few tenths of 1% and
sometimes less than 1/10% of the gas/vapor mixture - yet is responsible
for nearly all ultraviolet produced by the diffuse arc that causes the
fluorescent phosphor coating to glow. Even when the mercury vapor content
is as low as .01% of the gas/vapor mix, it is a significant active
Some more details in:
Yet, the essential mixture of an inert "majority gas" plus the minority
but active ingredient of mercury vapor has a significant sensitivity to
temperature. And the mercury vapor does affect significantly the
electrical characteristics of fluorescent bulbs, especially including
starting through the "Penning effect".
As a result, reliable starting at temperatures significantly lower than
usual requires more voltage. This is the job of the ballast, especially
when the ballast has more than 2 leads.
A lot more info with a bit relevant is in:
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
At work the bulb makers came in and gave a talk on them. Due to the
government regulations to reduce or change the materials in the bulbs
(thinking mercury but not sure) the tubes become harder to light off cold.
That makes them require a differant ballast if they are used in a cold area
instead of in a heated building.
If you had some 20 or 30 year new / old stock bulbs they would fire where it
is colder than the newer bulbs will with a standard ballast.
But the ballast has no ability to warm up externally the bulb.
The difference is that the ballast provides higher voltage that the
bulbs require in non-optimum temperatures. If such a "beefier" ballast
has higher core losses due to being bigger or due to lower effort to
minimize core losses (or lower effort to maximize power factor or to do
whatever other optimizations) this does not indicate that low temperature
ballasts require heat.
The bulbs are well enough known to have significant variations
in performance with varying temperature, including ability to start.
Low temperature ballasts compensate for this by supplying higher voltage.
- Don Klipstein ( email@example.com)
Newer lights are good down to about 0 degrees. I bought a couple of cheap
ones and they work fine in my unheated garage. As the temperature comes up,
they do get a little brighter. You can get them as cheap at $15 a fixture.
I routinely use the cheapo ballasts from Home Depot without any problem
here in Michigan. They do start out a bit dim, and flicker a bunch,
but after 5 or 10 minutes they warm up to full brightness. This is in
an unheated garage where it might be 10 or 20 degrees (F).
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