I'm at the BORG today walking past the 8' fluorescent light fixtures
and decide it's time to replace the magnetic ballast 8 footers that I
I think I know what I want, T-12 electronic ballast, but after looking
at what was there, I was just more confused than when I walked in.
So can you guys tell me what will work best and survive the cold
The choice of fixtures they had in 8' are;
T-8 (2 tubes) and the box says magnetic $33. That's what I have and I
know I didn't want that.
The next is T-12 (2 tubes) and the box says commercial/ electronic
$35. No mention of cold weather application. I think this is what I
want until I see the next choice.
The next is T-12 (2 tubes) and the box says commercial/ High Output/
magnetic $55. The bulbs in this display read H/O cold weather.
Near the display there is a little sticker claiming that if the box
has this emblem they are good to 0 degrees. None of the fixtures
listed above, or any of the smaller ones at the store, had that
None of the fixture boxes say anything about cold weather. Only the
BULBS in the H/O fixture say cold weather and that unit seems to also
have magnetic ballast.
Knowing that no one in the store would be able to answer my questions,
I just left empty handed.
Any guesses as to whether any of the fixtures listed above will work?
Or, should I keep looking?
Pretty much any electronic ballast should be good in cold weather, some
are better than others.
Any particular reason you don't want electronic T8? Around here in
Canada the 2-tube 4-foot ones are $20 and they claim to be good in cold
On Mon, 10 Mar 2008 17:21:15 -0600, Chris Friesen wrote:
I recently bought some 4' shop lights with electronic ballast, only to
find that they didn't work on a GFCI protected circuit, but a different
I asked an electrician and he said it was a known "feature" of some
electronic ballasts. Depended on the chip used.
Most folks won't have their shop lights on GFCI, but just in case I
thought I'd mention it.
Why dont you try going to the electrical supply house and see if you
may be able to support a company with people who "do" know what they
are talking about, and likely may be locally owned to boot. Perhaps
they will quote you a price similar to what you will get at the borg
which gives no service, no knowledge, no support, and no local $$. At
the vey least you will likely leave the counter well informed and
having learned something. They may even tell you which is the better
chioce at the borg if they dont have something in your pricerange
Hogwash, if you went to a contractor only supplyhouse I "may" be able
to see it however those are extremely rare anymore. If infact it was a
trade-only supplyhouse I am sure there are others in the area. If you
want to put your money where you mouth is post the name and ph. # of
the supply house and I will give them a call and ask what their policy
is for non-trade sales and post their response.
The days of "trade only" supply houses is coming to an end. While
there are still some out there, in most every market there are several
supply houses that sell to "retail" customers at discounted prices.
Though the discount may be 10-20 percent shy of thier contractor
sales, they may well be competetive, only slightly higher, and in
cases of quality goods, even more competetive than big box stores.
You really need to reassess the weight you are putting on the
knowledge, service, and support, of your supplier. You yourself stated
that HD has no knowledge, which is why you are asking the question
here. You wasted your time, fuel, and so on going to HD (even if it is
on your way) to get no answers, no product, and no information. Those
three things have a value that is quantifiable in a direct dollar
The conundrum progresses even further when you outsource the knowledge
and service (score 1 for HD) combined with your time (score 2 for HD),
and then go back and buy a substandard product (score 3 for HD).
On Tue, 11 Mar 2008 15:59:12 -0700 (PDT), BDBConstruction
Well I'm not used to being called a liar and I'm not used to
explaining myself to those who might call me a liar. The last time I
tried to buy some special electrical stuff I went to the local Locke
Wholesale Electrical Supply building and was told I needed a company
check. Unlike you, I believed the guy.
Have a nice day!
Plonk away. Simple fact is local sources abound for quality goods,
supplied by knowledgable staff, who offer copious quantities of
service, support, and information, at a reasonable price for all of
the above. They may meet or beat the borg, they may be a bit more, but
service and knowledge have direct value. And as I said, they will
likely tell you "hey, we have this fixture but Lowes is selling the
same one for 10.00 less". They may even go on to say, "but, that model
has a china ballust which has a 1 year life span and when that ballust
goes it will cost more than the total fixture cost to replace it".
Whats that worth?
While your location may be the one with a single supply house and it
is trade-only I will gladly eat my words. If there is enough trade to
support a trade-only house there is usually several others in the
area. It may take a little legwork to find the one for you but the
profits abound when you find it. The legwork will be far less than you
are doing to line the borgs pockets.
Today's consumer, with obscene amounts of bias, is willing to do the
work of their supplier, substitute personal research for all the
knowledge of their supplier, worry about the warranty of their
supplier, AND on top of it all, settle for low quality, substandard
goods. This while trying to do hours of research regarding quality,
long life, and performance with regard purchase. After all that, they
want to feel ripped off when what they got didnt work, didnt last, or
god forbid negatively affected the US economy, and they want to return
These sources (borg) do not aim to offer any one of us any of those
features and benefits unless they are abitrarily inherant in the end
product (perhaps a brick, a bag of concrete mix though it could have
less portland in it, a stick of rebar). If it can be dumbed down it
will be. They are not remotely interested in providing you with a
quality light fixture. Customer satisfaction is not thier ultimate
goal. They are merely interested in getting you to a point where its
easier for you to keep it rather than return it. They are interested
in making you think you are getting a good fixture but it will have
low quality ballust which will last until the return period is over.
It will have the least possible amount of paint, thinnest sheet metal
possible, on and on. They dont even care if the low quality impacts
returns because they force vendors to accept any and all returns as a
condition of doing business with them.
I had T12 old style ballast and they hummed and flickered. In my shed
they would not actually light up until around 10 AM. I found T8
electronic ballasts at Lowes and just replaced the ballasts and
replaced the bulbs with T8's. The ballast will have it's minimum
starting temperature on it. I believe theirs was 30 degrees F.
Since then I have found the ballasts much cheaper online.
The T8 ballast is wired differently in the fixture but has a diagram
on the label and is very simple to do. Now my shop (and shed) lights
just pop on when the switch is clicked, no hum or flicker. There is a
"burn-in" period when first installed of a few hours when the light is
not full power.
On Mon, 10 Mar 2008 22:11:09 -0700 (PDT), " firstname.lastname@example.org"
T8 electronic ballasts come in different configurations. The starting
temperature will be on it. T8 fluorescent output is based on bulb
wall temperature. In cold operating conditions consider an enclosed
fixture. Pay attention to the BF or ballast factor. There are 3
basic settings. Low Out put which is about .75 to .79 of reference
output. Normal output would be about .85-.88. there is also a 1.18
output but that is probably only practical for commercial as high
efficiency luminaires are necessary to essentially replace a 4 lamp
fixture with 2 lamps. Oh they also make a long life high lumen T8
lamp. Finally consider Higher degree Kelvin temp lamps as they will
appear whiter and cause a perceived brighter environment.
It depends on the brand. Some lights will be sold with the bulbs, but I
believe most will be sold without.
Also, the ballast is part of the fixture, not attached to the bulbs. You
may be thinking of the compact fluorescent bulbs which have a built in
ballast and are used in the screw type incandescent sockets.
I'll tell you my recent lighting story and you may be able to glean
some information from it, or not. At Menards I bought their 2 bulb 4
foot T-12 fluorescent light fixture. $16.88 each. Bought 37 in all
for the 1200 square foot basement. 36 of them had two brands of
electronic ballast. As someone else said, they state right on the
ballast what their operating temperature is and its near freezing if I
recall correctly. More than adequate for basement or even garage
lights. 1 of the fixtures had a magnetic ballast. I exchanged that
one so all my T-12 fixtures are electronic ballasts. No humming at
all and they come on immediately.
Due to cost reasons, and a nice sale price at Menards, I went with
cheap Sylvania fluorescent bulbs. $1.35 per bulb including tax. 70
CRI, 3000 lumens, 4200 K. Before buying the bulbs I had five
different sets of bulbs in the basement, comparing them to see which I
liked best. 6500K, 2200 lumen, 90CRI; 5000K, 2400 lumen, 90CRI;
3000K, 3300 lumen, 80CRI; 3500K, 3600 lumen, 85CRI; 5100K, 3500 lumen,
85CRI. The 6500K were very blue, bad. The 5000K were sort of OK but
not bright enough when compared to superior bulbs. The 3000K was too
yellow, incandescent reproduction, and not bright enough. The 3500K
was slightly yellow but very bright, high quality bulb. The 5100K was
very bright and white, high quality bulb. I liked the 5100K best with
the 3500K a close second. But each was about $5 a bulb from the local
electrical supplier company. $370 for high quality light bulbs
compared to the $95 for the 4200K, 3000 lumen, 70CRI bulbs I ended up
with. Cost difference was too much at this time. And the cheap bulbs
I bought are OK enough, especially supplemented with the 150-200 watt
incandescent lights in the basement. If I spent hours in the basement
shop, then nicer bulbs and the extra $275 cost would be justified.
I recommend gathering up a variety of bulbs and comparing them when
choosing bulbs. You will see a wide range of light quality. The big
and small hardware stores only have poor light quality bulbs. But may
be able to sell them cheaply. For high quality light bulbs you have
to get them from a store specializing in lighting. And you will have
to pay dearly for them. But it may be worth it.
On Mar 11, 7:24 am, " email@example.com"
Good information, Russell. I personally like anything that is
qualitative but with numbers I can point to.
You bring up a great point, too. When I was doing a lot of commercial
finish out, I did minor maintenance as a favor to the building owners
on a few different developments. We changed out a lot of flourescent
bulbs, and they gave me $5 a bulb to change them out. They did not
care what I put in the fixtures as long as they actually lit up. I
paid .88 a bulb in 12 bulb per case packages. I have no idea what
they were, but they were cheap, and that is all my instruction from
the building owner I got.
At the time none of us knew much about flicker (we thought they only
flickered when the ballast was going out), and how that affected what
the people saw that worked under those bulbs. We didn't know that the
bulbs flickered constantly, and that they flickered at a different
rate on each bulb, and especially that they flickered at a harmonic
rate much different than the old CRT monitors.
I can't imagine how many people's headaches were actually from the
flourescent bulbs we used to put in.
Hey Mike - ask the Associate in electrical to open up one of the fixtures
you're interested in and read the ballast. You cannot go by the markings on
the box. HD sells lights that are not rated for cold start, but if you look
at the ballast, you'll find they are rated for -10C. That's cold enough for
most applications. They sell for far less than the rated versions. Any HD
electrical department Associate will open up a fixture (remove the shield)
so that you can examine the ballast.
If you can determine the SKU for a particular fixture, but can't get by the
store to look at the product in person, email me with the SKU and I will
open one up for you. HD SKU's are XXX-XXX numbers.
Just an observation:
FYI, I purchased some Home Depot shop lights with 2-4' T-8 lamps and
electronic ballasts. I have 10 of these; the ballasts in 2 of the 10
have failed. I did some googling of that issue and read opinions that
the ballasts are very low end in these type lights.
Since I cut the supplied cords off and wired them directly from the
junction box, I guess I am not going to return them. But I am not
going to purchase these again; I will just replace the ballasts.
Other than that the lights were not rated for "cold" but they have
always come on immediately when I flipped the switch.
And FYI different electronic ballasts do have different ratings for
power efficiency and such. It appears you can opt for more lumens
(light output) or less power use with different ballasts. And that is
aside from the difference you might see with different tubes.
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