How Do You Know If Your Ballast Is Bad?

If your fluorescent lighting is displaying any of the signs below, it could be a symptom of a bad ballast:

  1. Flickering. ...
  2. Buzzing. ...
  3. Delayed start. ...
  4. Low output. ...
  5. Inconsistent lighting levels. ...
  6. Switch to an electronic ballast, keep lamp. ...
  7. Switch to an electronic ballast, switch to a T8 fluorescent.

How can you tell if the ballast is bad?

2. Look for warning signs that the ballast is failing. Buzzing. If you hear a strange sound coming from your bulbs or light fixture, like a buzzing or humming noise, that's often a sign your ballast is going. ... Dimming or flickering. ... No lights at all. ... Changing colors. ... Swollen casing. ... Burn marks. ... Water damage. ... Leaking oil. Jun 25, 2020

What happens when a ballast goes bad?

If the ballast is bad, then the needle won't move. If you're using a digital multimeter, often the digital readout will possibly list a “1” when it doesn't find a measurable resistance. Feb 6, 2017

Is it the bulb or the ballast?

Switch the bulbs with another fixture. If the other fixture starts acting funny, then it's the bulbs. If the same fixture continues to act funny it's the ballast. Jun 6, 2017

How do you test an electronic ballast?

Testing Process: Turn Off the Circuit Breaker. For any electrical works, you must ensure that the circuit breaker is in the OFF position. ... Remove the Ballast. As the ballast generally connects with a bulb or lighting devices. ... Multi-meter Ohm Setting. ... Connect the Multi-meter Probe with Wire. ... Re-installation.

Do you need an electrician to change a ballast?

Yes. As a matter of fact, you do need a lock out tag out device in place for changing a ballast. ... 'An electrician is replacing the ballast on a fluorescent light. Jan 4, 2017

How much does it cost to replace a ballast?

A replacement ballast costs about $10-25 depending on capacity and brand. The bite is that an electrician trip charge (which includes 30 or 60 minutes work) is going to be $75-150 probably - for about 5 minutes work on each light fixture. Nov 24, 2020

How do I replace a ballast?

Instructions Turn Off the Power. ... Remove the Cover. ... Remove the Fluorescent Tubes. ... Remove the Cover Plate. ... Disconnect the Ballast Wires. ... Remove the Ballast. ... Prepare the Wires. ... Mount the New Ballast. More items... • May 8, 2020

How often do ballasts need to be replaced?

When your fluorescent light flickers or makes a loud and annoying hum, a degrading ballast is the cause. The ballast takes in electricity and then regulates current to the bulbs. A typical ballast will generally last about 20 years, but cold environments and bad bulbs can decrease this lifespan significantly.

Can you fix a ballast?

While simply swapping burned out bulbs in an existing ballast is deemed “ballast repair” by many – and can offer advantages in longevity and energy savings – sometimes this simple “fix” is not enough.

What is a light ballast?

In a fluorescent lighting system, the ballast regulates the current to the lamps and provides sufficient voltage to start the lamps. Without a ballast to limit its current, a fluorescent lamp connected directly to a high voltage power source would rapidly and uncontrollably increase its current draw.

Do LED lights need a ballast?

LED technology does not require a ballast to regulate the amount of energy flowing to the lights. LED's require less energy and can be sensitive to excess energy. A ballast bypass is a common procedure to remove the ballast from the existing fixture. Feb 12, 2018

How do electronic ballasts work?

The ballast initially works as a starter for the arc, supplying a high-voltage impulse and, later, it works as a limiter/regulator of the electric flow inside the circuit. Electronic ballasts also run much cooler and are lighter than their magnetic counterparts.

How do you troubleshoot fluorescent lights?

A dead fluorescent can be caused by lack of electrical power (tripped breaker or blown fuse), a dead or dying ballast, a dead starter or a dead bulb(s). Check for power first... then the starter (if applicable) and then the bulbs. When all else fails, the ballast should be replaced.

Can a bad ballast cause a breaker to trip?

If the primary winding in the ballast goes bad they almost always trip the breaker, unless there is a fuse installed just ahead of the ballast. After checking all of the wiring, as you have been directed to do, the last chip is a bad ballast. Feb 12, 2003

Can you change a ballast with the power on?

Although changing a ballast is safer with the power off, sometimes it is impractical, such as in a crowded store or office space, and you must replace the ballast without cutting the power.

How do you test a fluorescent ballast?

If the ballast is bad, the needle on the multimeter will not move. If the ballast is still good, the needle should sweep to the right across the face of the multimeter. Install a new ballast, if necessary. Replace the ballast cover on the fluorescent light fixture.

What to do with the yellow wires on a ballast?

you would normally have the yellow connected to one end of a bulb and the other end will be connected to either a blue or a red wire . it is basically one half of the source power circuit, yellow on one end, and either blue or red to the other end . The two wires provide the source power to light a bulb.

Are all ballast the same?

Magnetic ballasts vs. And there are two types of ballasts in each family: magnetic and electronic. Magnetic ballasts are the older ballast technology. For the fluorescent family, both T12 linear fluorescents and two-pin CFLs use magnetic ballasts. ... Today, most fluorescent and HID lamps operate off an electronic ballast. Sep 12, 2019

How much does it cost to replace a light bulb?

Replacing a single bulb would cost $3 (for 15 minutes of labor). However, though it would only cost $3 to change a single LED, during that time 50 incandescent bulbs will have burned out. At $3 per bulb, the labor costs for incandescent bulbs reach $150 (50 x $3). Oct 21, 2015

How long does a fluorescent ballast last?

According to the Certified Ballast Manufacturers Association, the average magnetic ballast lasts about 75,000 hours, or 12 to 15 years with normal use. The optimum economic life of a fluorescent lighting system with magnetic ballasts is usually about 15 years.

What is inside a ballast?

A magnetic ballast (also called a choke) contains a coil of copper wire. The magnetic field produced by the wire traps most of the current so only the right amount gets through to the fluorescent light. That amount can fluctuate depending on the thickness and length of the copper wire.

How do you bypass a ballast?

How to Bypass A Ballast Step 1: Disconnect All Power So There is No Electrical Current. ... Step 2: Find the Ballast. ... Step 3: Locate and Cut Only the Hot and Neutral Wires. ... Step 4: Cut the Socket Lead Wires. ... Step 5: Remove the Ballast (if you wish) ... Step 6: Connect the Wires. ... Step 7: Reattach Any Coverings and Turn On. Jul 13, 2020

How can you tell if a fluorescent light ballast is bad?

If your fluorescent lighting is displaying any of the signs below, it could be a symptom of a bad ballast: Flickering. ... Buzzing. ... Delayed start. ... Low output. ... Inconsistent lighting levels. ... Switch to an electronic ballast, keep lamp. ... Switch to an electronic ballast, switch to a T8 fluorescent. More items... • Jul 19, 2019

How do I know if my ballast is T8 or T12?

If no markings are available, the size in diameter of the tube is the easiest way to determine the type you have installed. T8 tubes are 1-inch in diameter and T12 tubes are 1 1/2 -inch. Jun 3, 2015

Why does my fluorescent light take a long time to come on?

If the fixture still starts slowly, it could have a defective ballast or transformer. The ballast is the rectangular device inside the housing. It is connected by wires to the tube holders. The ballast can be replaced if an exact duplicate can be found at a hardware store or electrical-supply store. Jul 17, 1987

Does removing a fluorescent bulb save energy?

While energy is saved by eliminating lamps or consuming less wattage, the lighting service (light levels) is also reduced to the space.

How long does a light fixture last?

While incandescent bulbs typically last only around 1,000 hours - barely a year with several hours of use each day - LED lighting is commonly rated to last 50,000 hours or more, which can conceivably translate into decades at the same rate of use. Jun 28, 2018

How often should fluorescent bulbs be changed?

every 5-7 months fluorescent lights every 5-7 months, because the intensity of the light begins to fade and it looses its helpfulness to the plants or animals that need it. You may not see this difference until you replace the bulb, but it certainly makes a difference to the plants or animals that depend on it! Aug 26, 2015

Is ballast and choke same?

A choke is an inductor designed to have a high reactance to a particular frequency when used in a signal-carrying circuit. An electrical ballast (sometimes called control gear) is a device intended to limit the amount of current flowing in an electric circuit.

How do you bypass a ballast in a fluorescent light?

How to Bypass a Ballast Turn off the power. Flipping the light switch to the “off” position does not necessarily end the flow of electricity. ... Locate your ballast. ... Cut the hot and neutral wires. ... Cut the socket lead wires. ... Remove the ballast. ... Connect the input wires to the output wires.

How do I choose a ballast?

When purchasing a ballast, you'll need to read the type of lamps it's designed for, how many lamps it operates, and the voltage the lamps will run on. Choosing the right ballast for a lamp will optimize the light output and life of the bulb. Jul 7, 2016

Can you bypass ballast for LED lights?

Since LED lights work on low DC voltage, they need a driver. Most T8 LED tubes do not need a ballast. So, if you are going to install a T8 LED tube light, it will require a ballast bypass unless you choose a ballast compatible T8 LED tube. Sep 1, 2020

Can I put LED bulbs in my fluorescent fixtures?

Many LED tubes are "plug and play", meaning you can just install them like you would a fluorescent bulb. For this to be true, look for bulbs that are "ballast-compatible" meaning that they can use the ballast already installed in your fluorescent fixture to power the LEDs. Jan 17, 2017

Are electronic ballasts better than magnetic?

An electronic ballast uses solid state components to transform voltage. It also changes the frequency of the power from 60 HZ to 20,000 HZ or higher depending on the ballast. Because the electronic ballast doesn't use could and electromagnetic fields, it can function more efficiently and cooler than magnetic. Mar 10, 2017

What are the advantages of electronic ballast?

Electronic ballasts are more efficient and more compact in size and weight. They also provide the ability for continuous power adjustment at different settings. A disadvantage is that power fluctuations may cause a failure but this can be offset by adding a buffer capacitor. Operation of the ballasts generate heat.

Is there copper in a ballast?

The newer light weight ballasts do have copper inside, but its like 3 small copper coils and a junk brown board in there. Jun 16, 2018

What do you do if your light fixture has dead or flickering fluorescent bulbs?

at FLUORESCENT LIGHT FIXTURE BULB / BALLAST DISPOSAL. A bad starter in the fixture - try replacing the starter. A bad ballast in the fixture. Replacing a bad magnetic ballast with an electronic ballast can remove problems of flickering fluorescent light and will lower the operating cost of the fixture.

How do I know if my fluorescent tube is blown?

How to Tell If a Fluorescent Tube Is Bad? Check the ends of the tube. If they appear darkened this indicates the bulb is burned out. Rotate the tube in the fixture if the bulb is not darkened on either end. Remove the bulb from the fixture if the bulb is still not illuminating.

How do you test a fluorescent light fixture?

Check each bulb end for a dark color. A dark color indicates failure. Try the bulb out on a working flourescent fixture., If the bulb works, the problem is the other fixture. If the light stays on for several seconds, then dims, the problem is the ballast. Feb 15, 2017

Can a ballast catch fire?

The fluorescent lamp was invented in the 1930s, so the magnetic ballast has been around for quite a while now. ... However, in the meantime, ballast fires are occurring across the country daily, especially in the ceiling fixtures of older buildings.

Does a ballast need to be grounded?

Grounding a ballast is very important. Grounding is usually automatic if the light fixture is grounded properly. A ground wire from the power source should be connected to a light fixture. ... If a ballast has a ground terminal on it, a ground wire should be connected to it.

Can I replace a magnetic ballast with an electronic one?

Fortunately, compatibility isn't really an issue, as most electronic ballasts have been designed to replace existing magnetic ballasts. A preferable electronic ballast is the T8 model. This option has several advantages over the T10 and T12, including improved lighting efficiency.

How do you wire a ballast?

Connect the wires from the ballast to the wires on the light fixture in the following manner: one blue wire from the ballast to one blue wire from the light fixture; the other blue wire from the ballast to the remaining blue wire from the light fixture; black ballast wire to building's black (hot) wire; white ballast ...

How do you wire an electronic ballast?

Connect the ballast to the power from the breaker panel by wiring the black wire from the breaker panel to the black wire on the ballast, using a wire nut. Connect the white wire from the breaker to the white wire from the ballast.

What is rapid start ballast?

Rapid start ballast apply a low filament voltage to preheat the cathodes. ... The filament voltage continues to be applied throughout the operation of the lamp. Rapid start ballasts appear to have a slight turn on delay compared to instant start. They will typically not be able to start lamps reliably under 50 degrees F.

How do you check voltage on a ballast?

Start by removing the nuts from the black and white wire that come from the power feed side of the ballast. Touch the probes of your volt-ohm meter to the black and white wires. If your ballast is properly functioning, it will show a continuous circuit. If not, then you will need a replacement. Jan 27, 2010

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