How expensive is ballast for a flourescent light?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jay H, Sep 13, 2006.

  1. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    ...and is it worth it to replace it.

    I have a 4' two-light flourescent tube fixture in my kitchen that is on the fritz, the ballast (and fixture) is pretty old and it doesn't start reliably anymore. Found the old ballast inside and it is rated for 2 F40T12s. Now looking at HD/Lowes, I can buy a completely new 4' 2-buld 20W (good enough) fixture for $18!!! Doesn't seem worth it to try to buy the ballast when I can replace the whole thing for $20

    How much would a new ballast be and any recommendations on where to find one? Would have to be rated for 2 F40T12 tubes cause I have about 5 of them that was left to me by the seller. I can splice them to the house power and then splice the tube end caps to the ballast myself.

    Jay
     
  2. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    The ballasts are pretty cheap and are probably at the hardware store on a shelf somewhere. You might need to ask. The reason to change the ballast only would be due to physical mounting (built-in?) or quality or special considerations (outdoor, low temperature, etc).

    In some cases it's easiest (and cheapest) to buy a new fixture and pull the ballast out. I fix my bathroom ceiling fans this way. I have seen ballasts as low as $5. A new fixture might even require some assembly antway (like installing the ballast and end caps).
     
  3. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    A flourscent fixture is essentially the ballast and the lights (the rest is bent sheet metal and some connectors). Ballasts will vary in cost based on their starting temperature and whether or not they are electronic ballasts. Cheap ballasts and fixtures are (IMO) garbage and should be avoided. Get an electronic ballast (appropriate for the number and size of your tubes) that can start in cool conditions. Plan on spending $10-$20 for a decent ballast. Be sure to get the correct phase / voltage as well (best option is to bring in the old ballast).

    I just bought eight 8' 4 tube T8 fixtures that I installed in my garage (where it gets below freezing). The good ballasts start the lights up immediately where the cheap ballast just flickers _forever_.
     
  4. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Done!

    I found a $18 electronic 120v ballast at Lowes, it's rated for 50degs but since this is my kitchen, it should be OK.. It's rated for 2 40w tubes which is perfect cause I already have some F40T12s that the seller left and the wiring matched the wiring exactly so I replaced the ballast which also fortunately was the same size so it mounted in the old ballast position perfectly.

    I looked at the $19 2 strip light and it looked cheesy, I didn't like it. The light fixture I have now, although it is a little old, it's in good shape and a comparable quality one that I found at Lowes was about $63 so I think I can justify the $18 ballast to fix it rather than replace it. Plus, the $63 light used 4 tubes, not 2 and I find 2 more than enough for my small galley kitchen. So I bought the ballast, some wire caps and replaced it lickety split. Very easy and now it works great. One flick and the light is on.

    Jay
     
  5. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Ack... New ballast is installed.. recently I noticed that the 2 40w lights now don't completely turn on. They kind of have to get a kick in the pants... When I turn on the switch, the lights light reliably but you can see a wavy pattern in the lights instead of a constant steady light and it's definitely not at it's peak output. I have to take a spatula and kind of hit it and then it comes fully on. And now when it's on, the thing buzzes like a ground loop hum... I don't remember it buzzing before when I installed it? Do you think it is a bad florescent tube or the ballast again or perhaps an end cap???

    Jay
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Probably because of the weather, your kitchen is colder than when it was during the summer.
     
  7. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Could be.. but it's moot now as I just bought a flush mounted ceiling light that is incandescent. No more annoying buzz and no more dying ballasts I have to worry about...

    Jay
     

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