Rapid Start Fluorescent Troubleshooting

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by flurolightnut, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. flurolightnut

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 24, 2011

    I don't know if this is the correct place to place this post, anyway, here goes:

    I am diagnosing some issues with the 1980's Rapid Start fixtures at our house.
    We recently replaced the hallway lights because apparently the tube holders were 'too loose' to start the light (however, usage for around 1-2 hours for one day each week solved this issue), and from what I've heard, the ballast was worn because most times you'd have to switch the light switch on and off quickly to get all lights started (they would otherwise glow the tube on its ends).

    Our bathroom (one of them) has a two tube (wired in parallel-removing one tube has no effect on the other) system. One of the tubes will stay off for the most part when the switch is set to 'on.' When it does start (sometimes I help it by touching the tube) it will come on flickering for about 10 secs, then run ok. Other-times, it will go out. This problem becomes worse in humid weather, and on rare occasions, the fixture won't start (yes, there are two lights on that bathroom, the other is a preheat). What do you guys suggest is wrong? We are using Philips Lifemax 18W Cool White/Daylight. Number on the tube is TLD 18W/840 (I think).

    The other bathroom has two of these fixtures-one uses Philips Lifemax TL-RS Daylight tubes (T12) and the other uses two different Philips Lifemax TLD-18W tubes (in daylight and cool daylight/white). I notice the T8 tubes start faster in most cases, but the T12's half start and start fulling after a loud hum! This is not an issue, but something I'd like to understand reasons for this.
    Since our house wasn't used for 7 years before we moved in a year ago, we got extra tubes for that bathroom (as it had one T8 in a light, and a T12 in the other)-we managed to get diffusers and tubes from houses similar to ours being renovated. The un-used ballast's on both lights (or side of ballast, I don't know) needed 'training' as it wouldn't start the light first shot. After around 3-4 months, everything works fine.

    My third (and final) question is basically what is right above: Why is that an un-used part of the light will refuse to work for a long time, then after frequent use, will start behaving, and working? That process occured in the hallway light, but because it's use was so infrequent, training was difficult... Replacement lights didn't work reliably, and the electrician claimed it was loose tube holders (indeed...)

    Anyway, thanks for the help-it would be much appreciated! I am a new member, so please explain things simply for me to understand
  2. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
    The ballast(s) may have been designed for the older T12 tubes.

    Ballasts don't cost much if you go to a real wholesale lighting supplier, I usually don't pay more than $14 - $16 for a 2 or 4 tube T8 ballast and they've improved drastically over the past 10 years. I'd just replace the ballasts and you'll be good for another 30 years.
  3. flurolightnut

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 24, 2011
    Thanks for the reply-I don't know if they are, it just seems that they can make light with T12 slightly faster (but only that flickery light), and the T8 tubes come on a little later, but at full brightness!
    We're probably replacing the lights soon anyway, as we're renovating the bathrooms at some stage in the future...

    I'd actually like to know why we had to 'train' the lights to start the extra tubes we installed to them-I'm assuming flat caps. though...

    Thanks again for your kind reply:D
  4. gerty

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 30, 2007
    Opening and closing the switch contacts like that to get the light on, would make me want to check the switch for burned/pitted contacts.