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Interesting remotely mounted ballasts

Interesting remotely mounted ballasts


Was called to have a look at some hanging pendant spotlights in a shop that was killing the PAR38 LED lamps the shop owners installed in them. The owners told me that in the course of a month they relamped 6 times in all 3 fixtures, they thought they had received a defective case of LED lamps, but soon found out that was not the case as the last lamps they put in were of a different brand and they were also dead in 4 days. I was stumped too until I took a voltage reading of the lampholders and got 280v! Upon further inspection in the backroom I found three M57 F-cans mounted on a panel in the electrical room. Whats crazy is there is something like 40' between ballasts and fixtures. The shop owners just moved into this new location and said the three pendants didn't have any lamps in them.

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Album name:BlueHalide / New album
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Date added:Feb 10, 2016
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BlueHalide
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Feb 10, 2016 at 11:30 PM Author: BlueHalide
Whats also unusual is there was absolutely no label or any information on the pendant reflectors stating lamp type and wattage, the non-pulse E26 lampholders also are a dead giveaway that these pendants were likely non-HID to begin with. Needless to say these three pendants got their much needed 175w cram lamps and all works well. Owners think its way too bright now, so theres a good chance ill be back removing those F-cans thus making those lights regular line 120v.

Also worth mentioning this store was built in 2014, so its kind of refreshing seeing new probe start MH installations like this in the era of LED
Alights
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Feb 10, 2016 at 11:46 PM Author: Alights
Very odd setup and they should've put some kinda sticker on the sockets saying that they were 175W MH ,at least they didn't have pulse start ballasts although ignitors don't work being so far away from the lamp anyways
BlueHalide
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Feb 10, 2016 at 11:57 PM Author: BlueHalide
I want to know where they got those rails/brackets the ballasts are mounted on, looks like they're universal fit, and can be used with any wattage F-can. Never seen them before. They also thought to put heat-shrink tubing around the 4 ballast leads, and use enclosed pendants...so it was a somewhat thought-out installation. Though im not sure about that 40-50 ft. mounting distance, seems a bit excessive
sol
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Feb 11, 2016 at 04:12 AM Author: sol
Here's a table from Sola regarding remote mount ballasts. I would imagine other manufacturers would have similar requirements. Depending on the wire gauge, 50 feet is well within the requirements. At my place of work, there used to be M59 400 w MH and the remote ballasts were a good 100' away (considering the conduit bends etc). They used 12 gauge wire, if I remember correctly.
Ash
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Feb 11, 2016 at 04:41 AM Author: Ash
What limit the cable length for Pulse Start lamps is the wire capacitance, that damps down the ignition voltage pulse to the lamp - leading to unreliable ignitions. None of that is applicable for Probe Start. The cable length for Probe Start is not limited, not any more than the 120V cable before the ballast is

Besides, Pulse Start installations can and do exist where the ballast is remote and the ignitor is at the lamp, so a remote ballast doees not rule out Pulse Start either
BlueHalide
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Feb 11, 2016 at 12:28 PM Author: BlueHalide
wow, didn't know the distances for probe start could be that long, but makes sense. GE's probe start F-cans state a maximum mounting distance of 10', so obviously a mistake.
Ash
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Feb 11, 2016 at 01:10 PM Author: Ash
This might be something related to electrical codes

The cable between ballast and lamp carries higher voltage than 120V. What i guess happened is, somebody in NEC or such thought that it is unsafe that a cable with 240V is present in an area that is only getting 120V : A bright spark that "is experienced with testing 120V by touching the wires" might get a surprise.. So they might limited the allowed length for such cables

If we take the "code says" possibility out of the question, the physical limits are :

- Wire resistance becomes significant at some point. But that is no worse than with the 120V cable going into the ballast. If you want to use really long cable, use a thicker gauge thats all

- Wire capacitance and inductance become significant, and the cable effectively becomes a transmission line. For 60 Hz, we are talking about several 100's miles here. And it still does not really prevent it from working, just more tricky to set up right



That is, as long as the lamp is true Probe Start such as a Mercury lamp. There are lamps for Probe Start gear which are not really Probe Start lamps, like the Iwasaki ferrocapacitor ignition lamps. Those will have problems
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Feb 11, 2016 at 01:24 PM Author: dor123
The Iwasaki MH lamp with the FEC ignitor (Multi Hi-Ace and Multi Super Ace), isn't a probe-start at all. It is an internal ignitor MH lamp. According to James Hooker's website , there is no restriction on distance between lamp and gear with internal ignitor lamps as well.

I"m don't speak English well, and rely on online translating to write in this site.
Please forgive me if my choice of my words looks like offensive, while that isn't my intention.

I only working with the European date format (dd.mm.yyyy).

I lives in Israel, which is a 230-240V, 50hz country.

Ash
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Feb 11, 2016 at 01:35 PM Author: Ash
This lamp works on Probe Start gear. So if you place the gear very remotely, you will be able to use normal Mercury lamp but not the Iwasaki lamp



The ferrocapacitor in the Iwasaki lamps is a capacitor, changing between 2 modes : low voltage/high capacitance, and high voltage/low capacitance. The pulse is made by the capacitor abruptly switching from the high capacity to the low capacity mode, which makes an abrupt cease in current through the ballast, and from here on the story is not different from starting with a glow starter

When the lamp is connected in the circuit, the cable capacitance (between the conductors and between the Phase conductor to Earth) is in parallel with the capacitor inside the lamp. But the cable capacitance is fairly constant. So, the more cable capacitance there is, the less significant becomes the change in capacitance (in the lamp) compared to the total capacitance in the circuit (lamp + cable). At some point, the capacitance change is too small to have effect - The ferrocapacitor is trying its best, but the pulse from the ballast is not coming
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Feb 12, 2016 at 11:52 PM Author: arcblue
Interesting that a store went to the trouble to rig up a system like this. Seems more DIY/hobbyist than something an electrician would install. I have that same Square D breaker box shown here except I used it for a ballast box - it has an H38 100w merc ballast in it. Those F-can ballasts are expensive and it's odd to see them installed like this.

I'm lampin...

BlueHalide
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Feb 16, 2016 at 07:55 PM Author: BlueHalide
Yes, I haven't seen any installation like it, these ballasts could have easily been just mounted on the beam directly above the pendants. The store was designed with a very "industrial" feel with exposed ductwork, EMT conduit, and truss ceiling sprayed black. So why they felt the need to hide these ballasts in the backroom is beyond me. The only benefit I can think of would be easy accessibility as the ceilings are 30'
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Feb 16, 2016 at 08:12 PM Author: sol
One possible scenario would be that this store originally had incandescents in the pendants. Someone decided to convert them to MH, so installing remote ballasts was easier than climbing 30 feet to do so above. I'm guessing these pendants have relatively long down rods so climbing to the fixture is easier than climbing to the ceiling. Just need remote ballasts in the electrical room and new lamps in the fixtures and there you go.
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Feb 16, 2016 at 10:05 PM Author: BlueHalide
Yeah, the fixtures are low enough that I could replace lamps without having to get on a ladder. The MH conversion could've been an afterthought like you said, these pendants illuminate a large display area in the storefront window.
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Apr 01, 2016 at 08:51 PM Author: BlueHalide
Update on this installation, next week I am called out to remove all three of these M57 F-cans and make the pendants in the shop regular line voltage as they want to use LED PAR38's instead. So I will have three of the Advance 72C5581-NP up for grabs for anybody on here looking to trade and wants a probe start 175w MH ballast. These are very lightly used and less than 2 years old.
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Apr 01, 2016 at 09:13 PM Author: ace100w120v
What would you want for one?
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Apr 01, 2016 at 09:32 PM Author: Solanaceae
Ooh gimme. I ended up finding the other 150w HPS ballast Kyle if you're interested.

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Apr 01, 2016 at 09:37 PM Author: icefoglights
I never got to see it, but my brother-in-law used to do maintenance for a school, and once or twice told me about the ballast room for the gym lights. The gym had a suspended ceiling with recessed HID lights (either MV or MH) with all the ballasts mounted in a separate on the 2nd floor adjacent to the gym.

I have an Advance HPS F-can ballast and according to the label, it's maximum lamp-to-ballast distance is 15 feet.

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Apr 02, 2016 at 04:47 AM Author: sol
Wow, a dedicated ballast room !
BlueHalide
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Apr 08, 2016 at 07:57 PM Author: BlueHalide
Ok, ive got the ballasts, one is already spoken for by a member, please PM me if you're interested in one of the other two, or both, and what you want/have to trade. Both are exactly the same, in fact the same date of manufacture (07/15/2013). Both work flawlessly and are dead silent
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Jun 02, 2016 at 10:18 AM Author: Lumex120
Are any more available? I need to retrofit a 250w merc fixture in my chicken coop and one of these would be perfect (I want to bypass the internal gear and have an external ballast instead).

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