Author Topic: Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice?  (Read 794 times)
Serah
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Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice? « on: January 10, 2017, 08:32:24 PM » Author: Serah
 Hi everyone!  I've always been a fan of mercury vapor lights in particular,  but as they continue to dwindle out, I've decided that I want to buy one or two and possibly restore them. The only problem is that they don't make ballasts for mercury vapor lamps anymore,  and I know little to nothing about working with electricity.

 So I guess I have a few questions;

 First, I've heard that probe start metal halide ballasts will work as a replacement in older fixtures that need a ballast replaced. Is this true?

 Second, I am a fan of the Westinghouse OV-25's and the early model GE M-400s, but I also found some clamshell fixtures that don't appear to have any room for a ballast inside. I'm guessing you had to have the ballast outside the fixture somewhere?

Third, I've been looking on eBay and the prices tend to range around $200 including shipping, which is really quite high.  Are there any better sources online (or perhaps brick and mortar) for finding these fixtures? I live in Georgia, and all the electrical companies switched to HPS a long time ago, and are now transitioning to LED, so I'm not sure if they would have any fixtures this old laying around.

 I guess my last question would be, do you have any advice for converting the leads so that they can be plugged into a standard indoor outlet,  and also, if there's anything I haven't thought of, please feel free to tell me.

Thanks!!
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Re: Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice? « Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 08:43:37 PM » Author: wattMaster
Some answers:

Yes! You just need to make the ballast wattage a little lower.

In that case, you would have a remote ballast. There would be a seperate enclosure.

One good place to find old MV fixtures is probably from places converting to LED.

You can buy plugs that connect to the wires, or connect a power cord with wire nuts. I would probably use the plug method.
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Re: Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice? « Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 08:59:15 PM » Author: funkybulb
First it would be best find a book on basic understanding
Of electricity. It will take time and get basic understanding .

2 yes u can wire up a street light with a line cord
 

3 best to find street lights off the utilty company
Or when the converting the parking lots
Also u can try the scrap metal yards to buy your
Lights from.

4 it depends. On what mercury lamp u are powering up
And what is line voltsge is, some street lights are 480 v
Then 277 volt these u will need step up transformer to raise line voltage for them to work correctly
120 and 240 volts are easly come from
Home wiring.


5 there are ways getting around ballast bans for MV
    just ask any of lighting member here about whaf u are
Trying to achive with your lighting.
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Re: Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice? « Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 09:50:22 PM » Author: Solanaceae
Welcome to the club bulb buddy!

Yeah like Jeremy said, do some research on electricity and how to do basic wiring. Ballasts, unless they're old and worn (sometimes labels peel off of ballasts from heat of operation), will have a circuit diagram showing which wires go where, and how everything goes together.

If you find a merc ballast and it has two coils with two power in wires (line and neutral), then they're generally 120v, special instances but less common for 208, 240, 277, and 480v ballasts. And if you come across a merc ballast which requires a cap in series with the lamp, it's imperative you use the cap, and be sure that it's the proper rating in respect to what the ballast says.

I've had hit and miss experiences on finding street lighting, habitat for humanity restore is great with old lighting, and I've gotten at least one street light there and countless lamps. The utility company here in central Illinois is a bit of a stickler about liability, so there're some possibilities that you won't get a light out of them, unless you convince linemen who are working on a light as they're doing it. I've gotten most of my street lights from eBay, and have lucked out on shipping costs. Some peeps get better deals with companies they work for, or you could ask if there're cheaper options which won't put your product in danger of destruction.

You can use metal halide ballasts for mercury vapor lamps, the corresponding wattages are as follows. And be sure to disconnect ignitors if applicable.
35/39w MH: 50w merc
50w MH: 75w merc
70w MH: 100w merc
100w MH: 125w merc
125-175w MH: 175w merc
250w MH: 250w merc
Etc.
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Re: Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice? « Reply #4 on: January 10, 2017, 11:49:11 PM » Author: nicksfans
1) Yes, you can use metal halide ballasts. For 50, 75, and 100w MV lamps, use pulse start MH ballasts with the ignitors disconnected like Solanaceae said. Note that the wattages don't match up exactly. For 175w and higher MV lamps, just use probe start MH ballasts of the same wattage.

2) Clamshells were designed to have remote (external) ballasts.

3) Parking lots, scrap yards, Craigslist, maybe Habitat ReStores.

4) I normally use cords cut off of faulty appliances and just strip the wires and wire-nut them to the fixture leads. I highly recommend using grounded (three-prong) cords for added safety. You can also cut the ends off of extension cords or computer power cords.

Another tip...it's not a bad idea to replace the capacitors in streetlights if they are older than about 1980. The ones from before then typically contained PCBs, which can leak out in the event of a violent cap failure (not common but it happens).
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Re: Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice? « Reply #5 on: January 11, 2017, 08:13:14 AM » Author: Lumex120
Hi everyone!  I've always been a fan of mercury vapor lights in particular,  but as they continue to dwindle out, I've decided that I want to buy one or two and possibly restore them. The only problem is that they don't make ballasts for mercury vapor lamps anymore,  and I know little to nothing about working with electricity.

 So I guess I have a few questions;

 First, I've heard that probe start metal halide ballasts will work as a replacement in older fixtures that need a ballast replaced. Is this true?

 Second, I am a fan of the Westinghouse OV-25's and the early model GE M-400s, but I also found some clamshell fixtures that don't appear to have any room for a ballast inside. I'm guessing you had to have the ballast outside the fixture somewhere?

Third, I've been looking on eBay and the prices tend to range around $200 including shipping, which is really quite high.  Are there any better sources online (or perhaps brick and mortar) for finding these fixtures? I live in Georgia, and all the electrical companies switched to HPS a long time ago, and are now transitioning to LED, so I'm not sure if they would have any fixtures this old laying around.

 I guess my last question would be, do you have any advice for converting the leads so that they can be plugged into a standard indoor outlet,  and also, if there's anything I haven't thought of, please feel free to tell me.

Thanks!!
First, check your local recycling yards for old lanterns. If they have what you want and it is in good condition, you can maybe try and offer some money for a few (like $60 for 3 or something). If they are HPS or MV and the ballasts are fried or gone, you can use a equal wattage probe start metal halide ballast for mercs 175w and up

As for plugging a light into an outlet, you can just attach a standard everyday power cord to the terminal block in the lantern (make sure it is grounded) and it will work to plug it in this way. If you can't find a good cord, you can use an old computer power cord with the end cut and stripped off.


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Re: Getting started with buying and restoring old luminaires. Advice? « Reply #6 on: February 07, 2017, 01:39:12 PM » Author: DieselNut
What part of Georgia are you in?  I am just northeast of Athens and have a pretty massive collection of lights, mostly older fluorescent. I do have a few MV and several MH also.
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