"ballasts last about a year and can not be replaced"
his has NOT been my personal experience on two counts.
FIrst, I have cheap shop lights that have lasted over six years (and
some that did not - see below).
Second, you can replace the balasts in these fixtures - but the cost
of the replacement is often half again or even twice the price of a
replacement fixture. Add to this the fact that replacing the ballast
involves removing the hanging fixture to the bench, opening it,
cutting wires, adding wire nuts to connect the new ballast,
reassembling and then re-hanging the fixture it makes no sense to
replace the ballast even if the cost is a bit less than a new
PS: For those that "quit" prematurely, I have a great solution. I save
the cartons they come in. Just need to save one carton of each brand.
Then, if it quits, I simply return it and exchange it for a new one.
If they have changed the packaging (they do from time to time to
frustrate such returns), just buy a new one, slip the old one in the
new box and return that one.
They (retailers) know that a significant percentage of this Chinese
stuff newer saw a QC test and count on the customer to accept the
premature failure and buy a new one while calculating a higher
"Returns & Allowances" factor in determining their "Markup." to
account for the high crap rates.