I'm having all manner of trouble figureing out what's wrong with my terrarium lights. I just built the hood and installed two fluorescent light fixtures that both hold 2 24" tubes for a total of four. They are wired correctly to my power cord. I bought some cord about 12 feet in length. I don't remember the guage, but it wasn't the lightest they had at the Ace Hardware. I also bought a plug (more on that in a bit), and on/off switch which I carefully installed on the cord. They are both rated at 15 amps. Oddly, the plug is not polarized.
The problem is that the lights are very difficult starters. Once they're on, they seem fine. But starting them is very hard. They seem to start to glow orange on the ends as soon as you turn them on. Sometimes they'll pop on after a couple of seconds. Sometimes just two of them do (and which two is random). More often, none of them start. Sometimes if I touch one of them, they'll all come on or two will. Usually they don't. If I just let them sit there, it doesn't seem to go anywhere, and the orange glow even starts to fade a bit. I've waited as long as a minute, and they never go on. If they don't go on right away, they won't until I touch them or fiddle a bit (maybe.)
These symptoms have persisted at home and at work where the terrarium is. Although I can get the lights on, it pretty much precludes using a timer, which is necessary to get the plants enough light. I just left them on tonight since they didn't get much light today with all the experimenting.
The odd thing is that all four lights are acting identically, so it isn't a bulb, a starter, or a ballast, at least in all likelihood. And it's the same whether warm or cold. I'm pretty much open to suggestions at this point.