Fluorescent starter types

Though the technology is still emerging, LED lights have several advantages over traditional fluorescent lights. Like Velcro, cordless tools and wireless technology, innovations as a result of research by the National Aeronautics and Space Agency have unquestionably changed the habits of daily life.

These technological advances extend even to gardening, and investigations into plant growth under light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, may permanently change the way plants are started and grown indoors. Though fluorescents have long been the standard light source for starting seeds indoors, LEDs have a number of advantages that may eventually make the use of fluorescents for plant growing as obsolete as the telegraph.

Take a look at almost any electronic device -- it probably has an LED somewhere on it, usually to indicate that the device has power. Though these indicator lights are intentionally dim, recent strides in LED technology have resulted in more powerful lights that are gaining traction for use in general lighting as well as for specific uses like plant growing. Unlike fluorescents, which emit light in a broad spectrum, LEDs are designed to emit light in narrow bands, which can be combined to achieve particular effects.

Long-lived, extremely efficient and producing little to no heat, LEDs reduce the power bill, rarely need replacing, do not break easily and virtually eliminate the need to provide extra ventilation or airflow above plants to cool them. Although still more expensive than fluorescents, new LED products developed specifically for plant growing can be plugged right into the wall and linked as needed to form a chain or series of lights.

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One disadvantage to LED grow lights is their psychedelic appearance. Since plants use only blue and red wavelengths of light for photosynthesis and growth, LED grow lights use combinations of blue and red bulbs that result in an intense purplish glow.

Much of the research to date indicates that these blue and red LEDs result in stronger, more vigorous plant growth compared to fluorescent bulbs over the same time. However, because LEDs are designed to emit light in a very specific wavelength, and not all blue-red LEDs produce an equal amount and quality of light, research continues on how different species of plants germinate and perform under different types of LEDs. Early adopters of the technology will probably find that better products will become available as research progresses.

Affordable, practical and widely available for most home growers is the traditional fluorescent tube. For years, the standard advice to indoor growers and seed-starters has been to use a fluorescent fixture with one cool-light and one warm-light tube, suspended several inches above the tops of plants. Full-sunlight spectrum bulbs produce the proper range of light wavelengths, but are less energy efficient and produce heat that can cause young plants to grow too rapidly and become spindly and weak.

Bulbs need replacing every year or two, as older bulbs produce a degraded quality of light. Although a fluorescent light apparatus can look clunky and unattractive, the human eye perceives the emitted light as white, making it easier to live with in the home. Not all seeds require light as a condition for germination.

Some species need dark for proper germination, such as annuals like larkspur Consolida species. Research is still mixed as to whether LEDs or fluorescents are better for seed germination; some research at Michigan State University suggests that seed germination rates are better under LEDs, while other studies done at Wofford College in South Carolina indicate that no difference exists in germination rates between plants started under LEDs and fluorescents, and that fluorescents may actually spur better early root development than LEDs.

Michelle Z. Donahue has worked as a journalist in the Washington, D. After several years as a government and economic reporter, she now specializes in gardening and science topics. Donahue holds a bachelor's degree in English from Vanderbilt University. Skip to main content. LED Qualities Take a look at almost any electronic device -- it probably has an LED somewhere on it, usually to indicate that the device has power. Fluorescent Lighting Affordable, practical and widely available for most home growers is the traditional fluorescent tube.

Seed-Starting Conditions Not all seeds require light as a condition for germination. About the Author Michelle Z. Customer Service Newsroom Contacts.Last Updated on April 13, Fluorescent tube lighting comes in a range of sizes.

When you are trying to replace fluorescent lighting, whether, with LEDs or another tube, you will need to understand the difference between tube light sizes. Determining the tube size of the fluorescent light will help you decide which tube lighting is a suitable replacement.

Fluorescent Tube Starter Comparison-Typical starter vs Electronic starter

The tube size will also be a clue on the best method for converting fluorescent tubes to LED. Even if you are not planning on converting fluorescent lights into LED tube lights, knowing about the differences between the sizes is still imperative. Each fluorescent lamp has its own advantages and disadvantages not only because of size but the lumen output brightness.

fluorescent starter types

The T stands for tubular and the numbers are an index for the diameter in inches of the tube. Most tube lighting will have its size mentioned on an end of the tube. Aside from the size, you need to check the lighting fixture requirements for being compatible with the bi-pin base type and the milliamps. But first, you must know whether you are looking for office lighting with a lot of lumens or something with a softer light as this will make a difference to the option you require.

T4 tubes are the smallest of the fluorescent bulb sizes, at only 4 eighths of an inch 0. Their size is what makes T4 lights popular for under cabinet lighting purposes and accent lighting for displays or a staircase. There is no industry standard for the length or wattage of T4 tube lights.

They can range anywhere from 6 watts to 30 watts, the lower the number the lower the energy consumptionand many lengths. If you are replacing a T4, you may struggle with finding the same fluorescent light bulbs sizes. Be sure to measure the length of the tube and check the wattage before heading for the shops or placing an online order. There is not much difference in size between T5s and T4 lights. This is why the T5 is used in many of the same applications.

On the other hand, T5 tube lights are little powerhouses when comparing T5 vs T8 tube sizes. Compared to a T8, T5 tube can achieve higher luminous flux using less power. The energy efficiency of the T5 tubes means they also last the longest, around 20, hours. However, this is still less than half of the expected lifespan of a T5 LED tube light which lasts an average of 50, hours. If you are using T5 lights for garage lighting or an art display, then make sure that you choose a model with a higher Color Rendering Index, CRi.

The CRi of T5 fluorescent bulbs generally range in the lower end of 70 but there are options with more accurate color rendering up to Basically that means the light color can go from daylight white to extra warm white. Another aspect to remember about T5 fluorescent lighting is the different output possibilities. The watts needed for T5 lighting will increase with the type of output.

For example, a NO-T5 tube light can range between 14 watts to 35 watts while an HO-T5 fluorescent tube light will usually range between 24 watts and 80 watts. The most commonly available is the T8 bulbs. This type of fluorescent tube lighting is the most popular because of its high CRi and many color temperature options. T8 lights are a good choice for an adjustable lighting system because of their color temperature range from a soft yellow-white to bright daylight.

You will also have several options that you can connect to a dimmer. T8 lights are commonly used in larger spaces as overhead lighting for example in office spaces with troffer lights, garages or classrooms.A condenser is an old term for a capacitor, a device that functions as a very small battery inside a circuit.

At it's most basic, a capacitor consists of two sheets of metal separated by a thin insulating sheet called the dielectric.

A small bit of electricity is stored in the metal sheets when a voltage is applied across the capacitor. When the voltage is lowered, the capacitor discharges its stored electricity. Capacitors are some of the most useful electronic components and are used in everything from computer memory to automotive ignition. Before you can understand how condensers work in fluorescent lamps, you need to know a few things about the lamps themselves.

The complete guide to ballasts for fluorescent lights

A fluorescent lamp is a tricky thing to control. It has electrodes at either end and works by sending current through a gas between those electrodes. When the lamp first turns on, the gas is resistant to electricity. Once the electricity starts to flow, however, the resistance rapidly drops, making the current flow quicker and quicker. If nothing were done to control the speed of the current, so much electricity would flow through that it would heat up the gas too much and cause the bulb to explode.

The ballast controls the current flowing through the valve, and the condenser makes the ballast more efficient.

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The simplest ballast is a coil of wire. When electricity flows into the coil, it creates a magnetic field. That field resists the flow of electricity, stopping it from building. The electricity that powers a fluorescent lamp is AC or alternating current. That means that it switches directions many times a second. When the electricity is changing direction, the moving magnetic field in the coil slows it down.

When the electricity starts to build, it is already changing directions again. The coil always stays one step ahead, keeping the electric current from building too much.During these challenging times, we guarantee we will work tirelessly to support you.

We will continue to give you accurate and timely information throughout the crisis, and we will deliver on our mission — to help everyone in the world learn how to do anything — no matter what. Thank you to our community and to all of our readers who are working to aid others in this time of crisis, and to all of those who are making personal sacrifices for the good of their communities. We will get through this together. Updated: January 2, References.

All fluorescent light fixtures consist of at least lamp slamp holders, ballast and internal wiring. Some older types have "starters", too. The ballast is used to create the voltage and current necessary to start and illuminate the fluorescent lamp.

In time, the ballast may need to be replaced. Read on to learn how to swap out the old with an approved replacement ballast of the same technology. Please read the entire article and warnings before attempting.

To safely replace the ballast in your fluorescent light, turn off the lamp, remove it, and check the voltage of the feed wires with a voltmeter. Then, use a nut driver to unscrew the nut holding the ballast in place and install the replacement ballast. Insert the red, blue, black and white wires in their corresponding holes, screw the nut back in place and replace the lamp. For advice on additional safety tips, as well as a method using wire cutting, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No.

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Learn moreJavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. Regardless of whether you're looking to use retrofit or ballast compatible LED tubes in your existing fluorescent fixtures, you'll need to know what kind of ballast your fixture has.

For retrofit LED tubes, you'll be re-wiring your fixture to bypass the existing ballast, and just how that re-wiring is to be done depends on the type of ballast you have. On the other hand, if you're using ballast compatible or "plug and play" LED tubes, you have ensure that the tubes you're buying are compatible with the type of ballast your fixtures have.

For those of you using retrofit LED tubes, you'll want to note that, with fixtures that have instant-start ballasts, you'll need to replace the G13 socket also known as "tombstone" or "lampholder" nearest where the power comes into the fixture to a non-shunted G13 socket.


Don't worry: the tombstone replacements, like the ballast rewiring in the first place, is a quick, simple task. Toggle Nav. Tube Lights. High Bay. LED Strips. Panel Lights. LED Troffers. Corn Lights. Ceiling Lights. Parking Garages. Pole Lights. Wall Packs. LED Retrofits. Bollard Lights. Canopy Lights. Parking Lots.JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser.

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You can return items to us within 30 days of receiving your order providing the goods are unused. A fluorescent tube uses electricity to make mercury gas emit ultraviolet UV light. When that UV light which is invisible to the naked eye interacts with the coating of phosphor powder inside the tube, it glows and produces the light we see and use in our homes.

But whenever we use electricity we must control it, otherwise we risk destroying the device and even putting ourselves in danger. The process that occurs inside a fluorescent light involves molecules of mercury gas being heated by electricity and made more conductive.

Without a ballast to control this, there would be too much current for the light to take, and it would burn out and possibly even catch fire. Fluorescent lights use either an electronic or a magnetic ballast. These rely on the principles of electromagnetism, in that when an electrical current travels through a wire, it naturally generates a magnetic force around itself.

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. This small cylinder-shaped component sits behind the light fixture and is filled with gas which, when heated, enables the light to start. This is called the pre-heat method.

As it can take several seconds for this process to complete, you may see a delay between the moment you flick the switch and when the fluorescent light begins to glow. Used in older T12 and some T8 tubes, this method functions without a starter. One advantage of the rapid-start method is that by providing a low, continuous current rather than a strong surge, it prolongs the life of the fluorescent light.

However, it does use more energy. Using more sophisticated circuitry and components, ballasts can control the current running through fluorescent lights with greater precision. Some older electronic ballasts employ the rapid-start method described above, while newer and more advanced models use what are known as instant-start and programmed-start.

These ballasts were developed so lights could be turned on and operated at their brightest at the first flick of the switch.

Rather than pre-heat the electrodes, the ballast uses a high-voltage boost around volts to heat and light the filaments and then the mercury gas. Designed for areas in which the lights are constantly switched on and off, these ballasts pre-heat the electrodes with controlled amounts of current before applying a higher voltage to start the light.

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When magnetic ballasts break, it is often blamed on the bulb. You can find out whether the issue is with the ballast, starter or the lamp with our guide - Easy Fixes for Slow to Start, Flickering or Faulty Fluorescent Tubes.

In order to ensure that the issue is with the ballast, you will want to test it with a multimeter.

How does a fluorescent starter work?

A multimeter is designed to measure electric current, voltage and resistance. They are inexpensive and can be found at most electronics shop. These instructions are for guidance purposes only — ensure you reference the manufacturers wiring diagrams.

If you are missing the instruction manual, most major manufacturers will have opies on their website. If the ballast is not the problem, you may need to replace your fluorescent tube. You can find out how to do this safely with the guide Replacing and Recycling Fluorescent Tubes Safely.

fluorescent starter types

Cheaper ballasts are likely to need more rewiring than a fitting that has a branded ballast in it. The process for swapping out magnetic ballasts for electronic ballasts is pretty simple and straightforward. This is the direction the lighting industry is headed in, so why not swap them sooner rather than later to optimise your space with better, quieter lighting? In newer lamps the process provided by a starter is built in, making the function of a separate starter redundant.

If the lamp fixture does have a starter, it will be obvious.Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in travel, style, and food. Hope you have a nice stay! Ballasts supply the proper voltage to start and run the majority of fluorescent lights.

Although typically connected by wires in-between the power source and the bulb, ballasts are sometimes included within the bulbs. This is often the case with compact fluorescentsbut this rarely happens with fluorescent tubes.

fluorescent starter types

But with the wide array of options on the market, we understand how finding the right ballast can be a little confusing. The comprehensive information below will help you select the fluorescent ballast you need. Knowing the type of fluorescent light you will use with your ballast is a good start to your search.

They can be generally divided as compact fluorescents or fluorescent tubes. When researching your fluorescent bulbs, pay attention to attributes that will help you narrow your options down. Bulb name such as 2-pin, 4-pin, T8, T12, etc. Matching ANSI codes guarantees that the ballast you chose can be used with your lamp.

However, ballasts are often compatible with more than one lamp, and vice versa. Based on design and start method, certain ballast options may be preferable to others because they can help your lights operate more efficiently, have longer life spans, or use less energy.

fluorescent starter types

Fluorescent ballasts can be either magnetic or electronic in design. Unless you are simply wanting to replace an older magnetic ballast, try to purchase lights that use a newer electronic ballast instead. Although simpler and cheaper, magnetic ballasts tend to flicker and hum, and they consume excessive amounts of energy to operate.

Because an initial current can be quite high, fluorescent ballasts are needed to safely start fluorescent tubes. The latter two with the most current technology are the most popular. Each start method has its advantages and drawbacks, as detailed in the following chart. Preheat Start ballasts require a starter usually built-in to establish the circuit through the ballast and pre-heat the lamp filaments.

When the filaments have heated up, the ballast then provides a suitable voltage to the lamp. Several seconds may be required to complete the starting operation. Rapid Start ballasts preheat filaments to the proper temperature before fully turning on the lamp. Usually, this is only a brief delay.

This method diminishes the stress on the filaments from a strong, initial power surge, thereby extending lamp life. Instant Start ballasts turn lights on the moment you flip the switch. These ballasts are ideal for offices, warehouses, and retail spaces. Programmed Start ballasts are the newest ballasts on the market, designed to reduce the energy used by rapid start ballasts as well as the damaging effects of instant start ballasts. These ballasts provide slower-starting, energy-efficient lighting that prolongs lamp life and performs well in frequently switched applications.

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