Author Topic: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe?  (Read 313 times)
Attfreakk
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Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « on: July 09, 2019, 11:08:43 PM » Author: Attfreakk
Is it safe to run an f20t12 preheat 24/7/365 as a safety light in the basement above the washer and dryer so no one trips and falls? I heard someone say that she caught wind of an old fluorescent light catching on fire. My light is an American Fluorescent, made in the late 80s to early 90s. (Just guessing). The ballast is a very simple choke, and the starter is an old Hemco. Is it safe to run 24/7 without burning the house down?
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #1 on: July 10, 2019, 12:09:13 AM » Author: fluorescent lover 40
No worries. It will be just fine. Before you let it run, make sure the ballast doesn't have any problems and you're fine.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #2 on: July 10, 2019, 01:24:07 AM » Author: Attfreakk
No worries. It will be just fine. Before you let it run, make sure the ballast doesn't have any problems and you're fine.
How do I know if it is good?
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #3 on: July 10, 2019, 03:31:43 AM » Author: fluorescent lover 40
How do I know if it is good?
Make sure it's not shorted or overheats. Try a good lamp in it. If it lights, it's good. If not,  try replacing the starter. If that still doesn't work, the ballast is bad. Also, monitor the current of the ballast to make sure it's not too high.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #4 on: July 10, 2019, 10:28:28 AM » Author: nogden
Yes, those lights are safe to run 24/7. Those small, simple choke style fixtures seem fail gracefully if they fail at all. I had one where the ballast shorted. It took out the lamp in the process, but didn't cause any other problems or catch fire. Wasn't a safety hazard. If you really want to be safe, you can install an FS-20  manual reset starter. That will open if the lamp fails and prevent damage to the ballast. That's more of a concern for 40W lamps, but doesn't hurt for 20W tubes, too.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #5 on: July 10, 2019, 11:44:46 AM » Author: Binarix128
In Metro De Santiago tunnels there are 24/7 F18T8 preheat fixtures running more than 10~40 years and no problem.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #6 on: July 10, 2019, 12:37:50 PM » Author: Roi_hartmann
I have F18T8 magnetic preheat running 24/7 as standby light in my IT room. I use electronic starter to cut off eol lamps to further protect the ballast.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #7 on: July 10, 2019, 01:13:52 PM » Author: Binarix128
I use electronic starter to cut off eol lamps to further protect the ballast.
Yes! The stuck starters can damage the ballast and the tube.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #8 on: July 10, 2019, 08:09:10 PM » Author: Medved
It is the same as running any other ballast 24/7/365. Failing lamp may cause ballast stress.
Just keep checking it regularly and replace BOTH lamp and starter whenever ANY of them starts to show signs of packing up.
The thing is, once one starts to degrade approaching EOL (mainly the failing tubes wears the starter even when it is not actually starting), it poses excessive wear on the other one, causing that to become EOL too.

Cut out devices on starters are to some extent able to reduce that wear so it survives few more lamps (the are usually rated to be replaced after 3 lamps), but it is not that reliable to keep track how long the starter was in use, so I would not recommend really relying on that and replace it with each lamp as well (so use the cut out feature as just a ballast protection). Other factor nulling the wear reduction capability of the cutout device is the habit of attempting to reset it instead of replacing the tube, in an attempt to "make the light working". The thing is, it usually keeps working for some time more, but once it tripped, the starter already got "wear dose" of one lamp, so after resetting it two times means you have "eaten" all of the rated life from the starter already on the first tube.
The electronic starter may appear to be the solution, but as you planto use the lamp 24/7, there would be very few starts with long operating hours, so the higher defect rate of the electronic alone (more complex, drying electrolytics,...) will make the thing worse than the standard glowbottle wear.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #9 on: July 11, 2019, 12:25:39 AM » Author: Attfreakk
I also noticed with the lamp I am running, that it has a slight flickering on 1 end. The lamp is a Philips F20T12/D with a date code of 3M. Made in USA. The flickering is on 1 end and occurs when I tap the lamp and when I first turned it on. It is sporadic, not 60 hz. What is the deal with that? It also has cathode guards. It does not have any end blackening, so it seems new.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #10 on: July 11, 2019, 02:48:34 AM » Author: dor123
It is safe to run a fluorescent lamp 24/7. Here in Israel, in lot of locations, fluorescent lamps working 24/7 without fire. In Carmel hospital, lot of electronic ballasted fluorescents operates 24/7 without fire or explosion.
Fire or explosion will only occur, if the ballast is of an unknown origin and don't passed any quality and safety control tests.
Also: I've the feeling that the American magnetic ballasts, have more tendency to fail violently than our series chokes, since they are way more complicated in design, or have design flaws such as completely exposed coils (Mainly in 120V series chokes, and CWA ballasts), and lot of old American ballasts are filled with PCBs.
We had very rarely, cases of fires caused as a result of fluorescent or HID ballasts.
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Re: Running a Preheat 24/7. Safe? « Reply #11 on: July 11, 2019, 08:08:42 AM » Author: Medved
I also noticed with the lamp I am running, that it has a slight flickering on 1 end. The lamp is a Philips F20T12/D with a date code of 3M. Made in USA. The flickering is on 1 end and occurs when I tap the lamp and when I first turned it on. It is sporadic, not 60 hz. What is the deal with that? It also has cathode guards. It does not have any end blackening, so it seems new.

It sounds like arc root instability (the arc cathode hot spot is "dancing" across the filament). Normally not any problem (except by itself being annoying for someone). It just means there is not just one single preffered spot for the root to sit on. Some wear and it will "solve" itself...

The cathode guards may just hide the blackening (technically they can not hide the blackening per se, but they catch the sputtered material so it does not cause the blackening, even when the cathode degrades similar way).
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