When a Fluorescent Light Ballast Needs to be Replaced
Does My Fluorescent Light Ballast Need to be Replaced? The Most Common Problems with Fluorescent Light Ballast and How to Fix Them.
Fluorescent Light Ballast Problem
- I have a Fluorescent light fixture in our kitchen and one day we turned it on and the bulbs were dim and they would flicker and they were buzzing. It is for a 2 bulb T12 or T8 fixture. The Ballast is an electronic, Rapid Start.
- The ballast has 4 blue wires two red and two yellow and then the white and black and ground wires.
- I tried replacing the bulbs and it continued to do the same thing. I have read lots of people say you need to replace the ballast.
- So do I need to replace the Ballast, or is their something else I may not have tried? If I need to replace the ballast, which type of Ballast should I get and where should I get it from?
This electrical wiring question came from Daniel, in Red Deer, Canada.
Additional Comments: Thank you.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Daniel.
Problems with a Fluorescent Light Fixture Ballast
Application: Replace a Fluorescent Light Fixture Ballast.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Hand Tools and Safe Ladder, flash light or drop light.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal experience, the light fixture and access to the light fixture.
Precaution: Identify the light fixture circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Replacement parts for the light fixture should be compatible with the type of fluorescent lamps that have been installed.
The Most Common Problems with Fluorescent Light Ballast and How to Fix Them
Take notice of the type of lamps that are installed in the light fixture, and information on the ballast pertaining to the lamp types. The following will help you discover the problem with your light fixture ballast.
- Electrical Tip about T8 and T12 Fluorescent Lamps
- If T8 fluorescent lamps (the smaller tubes that are 1 inch diameter), or T12 fluorescent lamps (the wider tubes that are 1 1/8 inch diameter) burn out and stop working out where the ends of the lamps turn dark or black then the ballast may become faulty and need to be replaced.
- A lamp that is used daily will last about two years depending on the quality of the lamp and the lifespan in hours as stated by the lamp manufacturer.
- If you notice that a lamp begins to flicker, then it is time to replace the lamp. Where a light fixture has two lamps for each ballast it is best to replace both lamps at the same time.
- Fluorescent Light Fixture Lamps and Ballasts
- It is essential to know that the light fixture ballast and the lamps must be compatible with each other or there will be performance problems with the light fixture. The lamps will not work right, or they will burn out early.
- This may also cause the ballast to become faulty and need to be replaced as well. Therefore, the light fixture ballast must be compatible with the lamps.
- Key Point: Only install lamps that are listed on the label of the ballast.
- If the Ballast is Not Working
- If the lamps are correct as stated on the ballast label but will not turn on then then the ballast is most likely faulty and needs to be replaced. If this is the case this does present an opportunity to consider a different type of ballast and lamps for your application. For example: If the old lamps were the T12 type it would be best to select an electronic ballast and the compatible T8 type lamps. This combination will also cost less to operate than the old T12 lamp and ballast, and the electronic ballast perform much better in colder areas, which is a big factor for garages and workshops.
- Most fluorescent lamps and ballasts are available from a prominent hardware store, or a local electrical distributor or supplier.
More about Light Fixtures
How to Install Home Lighting.
More about Electrical Supply Companies
Electrical Supply Houses can be found in your area and many will allow homeowners to purchase from them. If you are planning a major remodel project you may want to consider them for your electrical materials.