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Why do my fluorescent bulbs flicker?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by dale58, Apr 15, 2013.

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  1. dale58

    dale58 Well-Known Member

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    I am hoping one of our resident electricians can answer this for me. I replaced my 4 ft. bulbs in my lights and they are only a few weeks old and sometime they flicker. Is it the bulbs or the light fixture itself ? thanks, Dale
     
  2. Birddogfella

    Birddogfella Member

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    NOT to pirate this thread, but why do I experience this flickering with
    incandescent (sp?) bulbs?
    Original wiring dates back to the 1940's.
    ...............................................
    When my flourescent light does the flicker thing, my son replaces the

    ???starter ??? thingy.
     
  3. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    The device that "drives" the electric arc through the tube (lamp) and excites the phosphors, thus producing visible light, is the ballast. Ballasts have a life span too. When new lamps flicker or burn out quickly it may be the result of ballasts that are reaching the end of their useful life. Loose wiring and cold temperatures will create this condition also.

    Flickering in incandescent lights is a visible manifestation of varying voltage drop. The most likely cause of flickering lights is an electrical arc across a loose wiring connection at a screw, back-stab, wire nut or other connection point. Flickering incandescent lights is a red light warning: you have electrical arcing somewhere in your system. The next step is it either burns out or burns your house down.
     
  4. Catpower

    Catpower Molon Labe TS Supporters

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    While we are on the subject, in my woodshop I have 12 8 ft florescent fixtures, it stays totally dry in there but sometime, not all the time if it is high humidity and cool maybe 1 or maybe 10 of them will not come on for a while until it heats up inside the building

    They are pretty new bulbs and fixtures with relatively low hours on them
     
  5. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    Standard ballasts are intolerant of cold temperatures.
     
  6. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    You can always tell when one of the old magnetic type ballasts goes bad. They are insulated with tar, and when they reach the end they overheat. That causes the tar to expand and squeeze out around the seams. If you see tar ribbons on the outside the ballast is history. The newer electronics normally just quit. No warning, no nothin'.
     
  7. trim tab

    trim tab Active Member

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    wireguy is right. They make fixztures for cold temps. If they are in your garage etc and live in cold country you will get flicker if you do not have cold weather ballasts.
     
  8. Catpower

    Catpower Molon Labe TS Supporters

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    They are high output lights, I have 48 of them here all in different shops all the same make same age but it is only in the one shop that they do it, and they just started doing it a year or so ago

    When the do it it isn't that cold maybe 45-50 degrees when I turn on the furnace and it warms up the slowly all come on

    It has had me stumped
     
  9. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    I would carefully check your voltage, under load, on that circuit. If that branch circuit is loaded to the gills, (high amps per wire size and legal limit) and the voltage is on the minimum end of normal, and the temps below 70 that might do it.
     
  10. Catpower

    Catpower Molon Labe TS Supporters

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    All split with 3-4 lights max on each circuit with #12 THHN wire, no voltage fluctuation anywhere

    It has me stumped, but I am getting lazy in my old age so I will just live with them until they die or I do LOL
     
  11. dale58

    dale58 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the help guys, I really do appreciate it. Dale
     
  12. Catpower

    Catpower Molon Labe TS Supporters

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    Sorry for hijacking your thread Dale, it just reminded me of the problems I was having
     
  13. Stl Flyn

    Stl Flyn Well-Known Member

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    There are starters for the florescent bulbs also. Usually they are a little metallic disk looking thing. I have had to replace them before when the bulbs flicker like that. Temperature does make a difference also.
     
  14. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    Only the instant start system uses starters. You don't see them much because it is ancient technology. The rapid start system doesn't use an external starter and the rapid start system (at least in old technology magnetic ballast) is 99% of what you see now days.
     
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