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Cooked the tar out of it!

Cooked the tar out of it!

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This is what I don't like about magnetic ballasts. I installed this ballast new in 2003, and I just had to replace it again this morning. It wouldn't light, so I open up the fixture to find this! There is also a nice puddle of tar in the ballast cover. Every Universal brand ballast I've bought in the last ten years has failed like this. Needless to say, I quit buying Universal brand ballasts! Some even failed shortly after I installed them so I replaced them under warranty.

I will admit this is a bad environment for a ballast. These fixtures are tandem 4' four-lamp fixtures, secured tight to the ceiling. To make matters worse, I've been using 34-watt tubes since the 40 watt tubes were banned in 1995. So they run very hot! I don't know if using 40-watt tubes would make enough of a difference to save these ballasts or not. Still, now that I've found a good source for 40-watt tubes, that's all I'm buying now.

Oh, the Advance brand ballast right next to this one has been running fine since it was installed in 1984! A few original Advance ballasts have failed, but most are still working. None of them have lost their tar.

Desk_Light.JPG Watt_Reducers.JPG Tar.JPG youtube_xr54o0O_FUM.jpg

Light Information

Light Information

Manufacturer:Universal
Model Reference:446-L-SLH-TCP
Fixture
Ballast Type:Magnetic Rapid-Start
Electrical
Current:0.75 Amps (with full-power tubes)
Physical/Production
Factory Location:Mexico
Fabrication Date:February 2002

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Filename:Tar.JPG
Album name:nogden / Fluorescent
Keywords:Gear
File Size:223 KB
Date added:Sep 24, 2011
Dimensions:2048 x 1365 pixels
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Ash
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Sep 24, 2011 at 02:56 PM Author: Ash
I wonder why are the ballasts potted in tar. Here dry vacuum impregnated magnetic ballasts are the norm and they are silent and everything

And, why are the ballasts made incapable to withsand 34W's even after the 34W's became the norm ? (the 2003 ballast)
nogden
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Sep 24, 2011 at 03:38 PM Author: nogden
Don't know and don't know!

Nearly all of our ballasts are tar potted. I always thought it was necessary for noise reduction and heat dissipation, but like you said, other ballasts seem to work fine without the tar.

I also don't know for sure why modern ballasts can't handle energy savers. They are rated for energy-saving lamps, but energy-saving lamps still seem to kill magnetic ballasts.
Powell
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Sep 24, 2011 at 06:23 PM Author: Powell
HMMMMM ??? I still see new 40 watt bulbs out there !

Powell

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nogden
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Sep 24, 2011 at 07:02 PM Author: nogden
Yeah, but I thought for a long time that 34 watt was all that was available! Until I found Sylvania F40/CWP at a store more than an hour away, all I could find were triphosphor lamps at high prices. These lights are in an office building I maintain, so lamps that cost more than $1.20 or so per tube are out of the question. Thankfully the F40/CWP meet that requirement, but I just found them last year, so everything I bought prior to that are 34 watt.
Powell
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Sep 24, 2011 at 09:52 PM Author: Powell
A good lighting WHOLESALER can get you what you want and cheaper than regular stores.

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SOX55W
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Sep 24, 2011 at 11:10 PM Author: SOX55W
Fortunately I can still find F40T12's in virtually every hardware/big box store in existence around here. I don't know when the US is going to ban T12s, but I heard something about being exempt if the CRI is above 90.

Bring SOX lamps back!!!

FYI, LED's are NOT the most efficient lighting technology available! Don't know how people keep coming to that conclusion!

My other interests: sports cars, refrigeration, microcontroller projects, computer hardware, and any sort of custom fabrication.

icefoglights
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Sep 24, 2011 at 11:24 PM Author: icefoglights
A wholesaler can get bulk lamps cheaper than a retail store, but a case of F40SP35s will still cost more than a case of F40CW/RS/EWs, if they even have them in stock at the time. Of course they can always be ordered, but if you need them now, that doesn't help much. A local wholesaler can order them on a stock order at no additional cost, but the lead time can be as much as a month or more. They could be special ordered and shipped quicker, but than there's also the shipping charge, which would make already more expensive lamps even more so.

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nogden
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Sep 25, 2011 at 06:46 AM Author: nogden
My wholesaler can't get anything for around $1 per lamp except for 34 watt energy savers. Sure, I can order full-power 40 watt triphosphor lamps from them, but they are prohibitively expensive (cheapest are $3 per tube) for mass install in an office building. I buy them for my own lights where I only need to buy a pair now and then, but its not practical for a commercial install.

Powell, have you bought 40-watt tubes wholesale? I'm just curious if there is something available that I'm not aware of. I tried ordering Sylvania F40/CWP from my wholesaler but they were not able to order them (not available wholesale).
Powell
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Sep 25, 2011 at 09:06 AM Author: Powell
Yes I can. I haven't gone to the Sylvania dealer but the local wholesaler it is no problem. I am testing some ( shudder !! ) Chinese made Topaz 40 watt DX tubes that were $2.00 individually.

Isn't the Sylvania Cool White Plus a discontinued lamp?

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xmaslightguy
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zzz


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Sep 25, 2011 at 09:17 AM Author: xmaslightguy
Yuck! always nasty when you come across a ballast which has leaked tar like that! Did it just quit working or did it go up in smoke as well?
Why don't you leave some airspace above the fixture? On anything of mine I now stick at minimum a piece of 1x2 board between fixture & ceiling just because of heat.

Edit:
I went back and re-read things...I see that these are at a office/not yours LOL obviously you can't modify/leave airspace above them...

Its All For The Christmas Lights...
And A Good Summer Thunderstorm!

nogden
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Sep 25, 2011 at 10:01 AM Author: nogden
@Powell, my supplier does say that the Cool White Plus is discontinued, but Menards still sells them by the case. I bought ten cases (ten ten-packs) last time I was down there. My supplier sells both /CWX Cool White Deluxe and /D41 Designer (triphosphor blend) lamps at about $3 each, but that's still too much for a mass install. Energy savers are about $1.20.

@xmaslightsguy, your idea is spot on! I have actually done something similar. Last year the building had some tenants leave and new tenants move in. In the interim, I dropped all the fixtures in those rooms and added about 1/4" of fender washers as spacers over the mounting screws between the fixture and ceiling. The 1/4" space is not noticeable from below yet should help with air flow and cooling. I haven't yet done that to this office, however, as I haven't had time and don't want to work around the people and furnishings to do so.

This ballast just went out peacefully. I noticed the pair of tubes was out, replaced the tubes with no luck, so I opened up the fixture to find the puddle of tar!
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Sep 25, 2011 at 10:46 AM Author: Medved
What is the electricity cost to run these lamps? And what is your wage cost to maintain them? Aren't the "more expensive" tri-phosphors F40T12 really so expensive to afford problems with overheating ballasts?

No more selfballasted c***

nogden
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Sep 25, 2011 at 10:56 AM Author: nogden
If they indeed are overheating ballasts, triphosphors are more cost-effective in the long run, even if they are more costly up front. I didn't realize that 34 watt tubes would be a problem when I first started using them! Only now am I realizing that they might be causing problems. At the time I installed these, I thought they would be fine, since the ballasts are rated for 34-watt tubes.

It doesn't matter now anyway. I have found affordable 40-watt USA-made Sylvania tubes at Menards, a home center nearby. Menards is about a 70 minute drive, but if I buy enough when I go, it is more affordable than paying $3 per tube at the wholesaler 30 minutes away. Even the local hardware store now sells 40 watt tubes for $3.29 each. Up until recently, they only sold 34-watt tubes after the 1995 ban on low-CRI 40 watt tubes.
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Sep 25, 2011 at 05:38 PM Author: Powell
I never heard of such a ban. I was always able to get warm white and Cool White up until fairly recently.

Powell

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icefoglights
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Sep 25, 2011 at 05:47 PM Author: icefoglights
It only effects 4 foot 40 watt, 40 watt U-bent and 8 foot 75 watt lamps. Other sizes, as well as "watt-miser" versions of those lamps are exempt.

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Powell
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Sep 25, 2011 at 06:14 PM Author: Powell
Are you talking about the new ban to take effect soon? I am talking about what Nelson said was a ban in 1995. The current upcoming ban kills a lot of lamps. The 60 watt 96 inch lamps are POS lamps anyway and are way less bright than the 75 watt versions.

Let us not forget that the magnetic ballasts for these lamps are ALREADY banned !!!

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Sep 25, 2011 at 06:20 PM Author: icefoglights
I'm talking about EPACT92, the one that made F40/CW, W, WW and F96T12/CW, W, WW lamps go away. It took effect in 1995.

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Sep 25, 2011 at 06:30 PM Author: Powell
Really! There must have been quite a bit in the backlog. Of course CW is my most HATED color. Warm White was only around 52%. White was just not there, as I had not seen any in decades. I think another reason was to raise prices on lamps.....

I have always used high color corrected lamps and full spectrum when I could. The local Walmart was recently relamped with SPX-50 lamps and I don't know who has any.

But Nelson does have a supply of ballasts.... 100 if he needs them all! So it's gonna be the higher CRI ones once the CWP lamps are exhausted.

September 27 .....

Nelson, I can get the CXL ( TOPAZ) F40DX for around $1.60 something and another wholesale catalog had Phillips CWX on sale for about $1.37 each case wise. Email me and I will send you the info on getting this wholesale catalog.

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Sep 28, 2011 at 09:53 AM Author: DieselNut
I never have had a problem getting F40 lamps either. I NEVER install 34 watt tubes in ANYTHING. Even when I have done jobs where they were being used, they get replaced with the same color temperature full power tube. The 60 watt slimlines are definitely the crappiest of all "energy saver" tubes. I have never used those either. I buy from a local wholesaler and can get DX F40s for around $1.25 each, in cases of 30. I have plenty of spare ballasts saved up, as well as a huge stockpile of starters and I have a few extra tubes too.

Preheat Fluorescents forever!
I love diesel engines, rural/farm life and vintage lighting!

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Sep 28, 2011 at 10:27 AM Author: don93s
F40 HPF rapid start are some of the most inconsistent ballasts I've ever seen. Whether they say .73a or .80 a, they sometimes run 40 watt at full power (up to 430ma or more)and sometimes not. Even though they may say rated for 34w, they might already run 40w full power and therefore, the 34w will make them run much hotter. Of course, the biggest killer is heat build-up and those ceiling mounted fixtures are the worse. If heat was dissipated better, most RS HPF ballasts would handle 34w just fine.
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Sep 28, 2011 at 11:39 AM Author: DieselNut
I took down a light at a customer's place where this had happened. Both of its ballasts (actually I think they were Universal, although older than yours) had LOTS of tar cooked out of them. They had 34 watt craptastic tubes installed and were EOL. I put in two pairs of F40s to test the fixture after I got it home. Amazingly, it worked well and did not get hot. Does EOL make some HPF RS ballasts overheat, like it often does on HO RS?

Preheat Fluorescents forever!
I love diesel engines, rural/farm life and vintage lighting!

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Sep 28, 2011 at 12:07 PM Author: Medved
@don93s: High input current does not say, on what power the ballast run the lamp and low current does not mean low ballast losses...
To run two F40T12 on the full power with no ballast losses and uity power factor you need 0.67A from the mains (it is a hypothetical number, loss less ballast does not exist).
So the 0.73A ballast may still power the lamps at full 2x40W (2x0.43A), while having nearly unity power factor and 8W losses. But I guess it would be big and heavy...
And then the 0.85 may still underpower the lamp, having 20W losses and power factor only 0.8...

No more selfballasted c***

don93s
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Sep 28, 2011 at 03:13 PM Author: don93s
@Medved, What I meant was that these ballasts vary in manufacture. For example, I had a batch of Advance ballasts from the same age that were all labeled .73a line current (energy saver version) and some ran lamps at 300ma, some were 350ma, and some were over 400ma. Generally the .73a ballasts supposedly have ballast factor of around ~90...I forget exactly. As for the "full power" .80a line current...I have seen similar variations in lamp current. That also seems to somewhat correspond with ballast temperature. Perhaps the capacitors have varying ufd values.
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Sep 28, 2011 at 11:52 PM Author: Medved
@don93: I see what you mean... Capacitors are usually +/-5%, but I would rather blame the "leakage" inductance: It does require a shunt with quite small gaps on each side, whle this gap is what steer the inductance. And it is this gap, what suffer most from manufacturing inaccuracies, as with the 1mm gap the 100um error create 10% shift in the inductance, while on fluorescents the gap is usually smaller.
Cutting the material is not as big problem, it could be done in a cheap way in 10um accuracy, what are percents in the inductance.
As the core is not solid piece of iron, but stack of rather tin foils, the accuracy of their assembly into the stack is, what finally matter (if the plates are shifted compare to others, the gap is reduced and the shifted edges saturate earlier and overheat).
And in the typical US ballast design the magnetic shunt is placed between the center and the side legs, what is very difficult to align.
To maintain the gap, paper spacers are used, but these are not able to even out the stack, it rather tear itself...

No more selfballasted c***

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Sep 29, 2011 at 02:35 PM Author: jason_m
I never really liked the "wraparound" fixtures, they run hot. Not only can they kill ballasts, but the lamps will depreciate faster. The only thing I can suggest is running 4 lamp fixtures with one ballast/two lamps.

I used to get full power lamps from GE Supply from $2 to $2.50, I think they're staying in the low $2 now that they're a bit more common though.

For people doing maintenance for buildings, you shouldn't be buying supplies from retail stores. That tells me you're inexperienced. If you were experienced, you would know where to buy.
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Sep 29, 2011 at 02:54 PM Author: Ash
There are wraparounds that are made like a normal batten with wrap around the lamp, so that the ballast is not in the same hot space

Though i'd prefer louvers they allow cool air in and reduce glare
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Sep 29, 2011 at 04:21 PM Author: nogden
@jason_m, I would buy the lamps wholesale, but when I can get them cheaper at retail, why would I spend more to buy them wholesale? I've been working with an electrical supplier for years, but if I can buy it cheaper somewhere else, I will. The best deal my supplier can give me is $3.07 per tube (I just checked again). Menards charges $12.99 per ten pack. Sometimes they are on sale for $9.99. So, that's where I buy them!
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Sep 29, 2011 at 04:28 PM Author: Powell
If your wholesaler is charging that .... he should hear 2 words from you : YOU'RE FIRED !!

Find another wholesaler !

NNNN!

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Sep 29, 2011 at 04:38 PM Author: nogden
They all charge about the same in the area. There are three suppliers within an hour's drive, and they are all about the same. Sometimes they are ridiculously cheap, other times not. I think they are all trying to push T8 as much as possible.
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Sep 29, 2011 at 04:52 PM Author: jason_m
You're right, the local supply houses are a bit overpriced around here as well. I mentioned GE Supply. There are a bunch more with websites if you use a search engine. I liked GE Supply b/c they had their own truck fleet so there weren't any issues with UPS busting up the lamps.
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Sep 29, 2011 at 05:20 PM Author: Powell
Nelson,

Then they are ALL overcharging !!


Powell

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nogden
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Sep 29, 2011 at 05:51 PM Author: nogden
I'll have to look at GE Supply again. I've never used them. A few years ago, I priced out some lamps, but wasn't impressed. I'll check them out again!
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Dec 21, 2011 at 08:10 AM Author: Alights
@Don: seems that the old full power ballasts are consistent and long lasting compared to the newer watt reducer ballasts , that is if they're used with F40 lamps
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