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Thread: what causes a flourecent light ballast to go bad?

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    rattler's Avatar
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    i had one go "pop" and start smoking last night, glad i was home when it happened. ive had ballasts do that here at work but generally the bulbs start flashing and such and their is some humming before they blow. you normally have plenty of warning but this one at home was fine as near as i could tell, i was messing with the plants under it about a half hour before it popped a couple times and smoked and all looked fine up until that point.
    cervid serial killer
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    Did you get it wet, or was it in a high-humidity environment?
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    rattler's Avatar
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    nope its hanging over top of 3 10 gal tanks that have covers, relitive humidity around it is probably 20% and its hanging 5 and a half feet off the ground with nothing above it. its also one of my newer fixtures, less than 6 months old.
    cervid serial killer
    Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety
    I didn't get stimulated but he kept his promise on change, that's about all I got left!
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    SirKristoff is a poopiehead Ozzy's Avatar
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    Sounds like it was a defective ballast. One other thing, check to see if it had the correct voltage. If you don't know how send me a pm.

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    I have had the same thing happen to me. Light working great for months then a pop and the light goes dark followed by a small amount of smoke. Minimal humidity in my case also and voltage OK also. I just thought it was the cheap lights and bought a more expensive set to replace old one.

    Brian
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    Flourecent light ballasts are basically transformers. A large amount of wire wrapped around a metal core. Ballasts have a few deficiences, mainly related to the heat they give off. They can if anything is flawed in the manufacturing process melt themselves to death. Also for all the heat they give off don't do well if the heat can't escape and will end up self destruting.

    Ballasts are generally not waterproof either, they can be placed in waterproof containers but then heat becomes an issue. If water vapors get inside a ballasts it can create a steam enviroment that is also coorosive. Basically in one way or another the protection on the windings becomes ineffective and literally shorts itself out and dies. Sometimes it just stops working othertimes it will smoke and die. In rare cases they will give off a shower of sparks or explode(these are extremly rare).

    The size of the ballast (wattage rating) and the voltage input rating must be correct. Ballasts are not interchangable with just any other ballasts, they must be an exact match. Please note some ballasts have a wide range of acceptance such as working on either 120v or 277v but they are clearly marked. Now please not that does not mean it has to be made by the same manufacture. Company A making a two lamp 40 watt 120 volt ballast should work the same as Company B's two lamp 40 watt 120 volt ballast. So the labels may have some slightly different logos but the ratings will be the same or very similar. Some ballasts will last for years others will die quickly. Usually they last for several years. I would say the average length of lifespan is 3 years. Remember different types of fixtures and enviroments can dramatically affect lifespan. Showcase ballasts are much shorter than standard 2x4 ceiling fixtures.

    When dealing with aquarium lights I would say the lifespan is much shorter due to the coorosive enviroment. Always be careful of what is getting wet and building up rust spots. While your ballast may not have any rust spots if the cover does water vapor is getting through and possibly creating a risk.
    Sincerely,
    Brendhan



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    rattler's Avatar
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    Ozzy walked me through checking stuff last night and unless im getting spikes, it must have just been a bad one. its one i bought already put together at HD so i didnt wire the thing wrong.
    cervid serial killer
    Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety
    I didn't get stimulated but he kept his promise on change, that's about all I got left!
    http://www.wolfpointherald.com/--http://www.safety-brite.net/

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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Sounds like it was a defective ballast. One other thing, check to see if it had the correct voltage. If you don't know how send me a pm.
    Who do you think you are? An electrician or something??
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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