Simply put, fluorescent starters are a timed switch. When power is first applied to a fluorescent fitting, the current creates two electrodes inside the fluorescent starter to heat and glow.

This causes one of the electrodes in the fluorescent starter to bend towards and make contact with the other electrode.

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This closes the switch and the current now passes through the fluorescent starter and on to the rest of the fitting. The current that is now flowing into the fluorescent tube causes filaments at each end of the fluorescent tube to heat up and begin to emit electrons into the gas that exists inside the fluorescent tube by a process known as thermionic emission.

Inside the fluorescent starter, the touching electrodes short out the voltage sustaining them and they begin to cool down and bend away from each other. This then opens the switch within a second or two. The current through the filaments in the fluorescent tube and the ballast is then interrupted, and with the circuit no longer in series, the full voltage is applied to the fluorescent tube filaments and this generates an inductive kick which provides the high voltage required to start the fluorescent tube.

If the filaments were not hot enough during the initial cycle, then the fluorescent tube does not light, and the cycle repeats with the starter heating up and closing the circuit again. Several cycles are usually needed to ignite the fluorescent tube and this causes flickering and clicking during the starting stage.

The older the flourescent tube is and the older the fluorescent starter is, the less efficient they are at igniting. A tube that takes more than a few seconds to start-up is a clear indicator that the tube and starter may need replacing. Fluorescent starters can be identified by a designated wattage written on the side. The wattage is directly related to the length of the fluorescent tube it is designed to work with.

As a general rule, lamps with 2-pins have the starter built into the body of the lamp but 4-pin versions need an external fluorescent starter. When replacing a 2D or circular lamp make sure you replace like-for-like with the appropriate wattage.

When considering re-lamping an area with multiple tubes we suggest replacing all the old tubes for new. Older tubes lose colour and can appear dull over time. New ones alongside will look brighter and cleaner. Make sure you read our handy guide to replacing fluorescent tubes. We also advise replacing all fluorescent starters whenever you replace a tube.

This ensures a prompt and efficient start-up, promotes maximum performance from the tube and can extend tube life.

How to Replace a Fluorescent Light Ballast

Fluorescent Starters. Fluorescent starters or glow starters are used to help fluorescent tubes and lamps ignite in the initial starting stage of their operation. Read on if you would like to know more about this process… When power is first applied to a fluorescent fitting, the current creates two electrodes inside the fluorescent starter to heat and glow.A fluorescent light does not have the usual glowing filament of an incandescent bulbbut instead contains a mercury vapor that gives off ultraviolet light when ionized.

The ultraviolet light makes particles that coat the inside of the tube, and these particles glow or fluoresce see How Fluorescent Lamps Work for details. Fluorescent starters are used in several types of fluorescent lights.

The starter is there to help the lamp light. When voltage is applied to the fluorescent lamp, here's what happens:.

fluorescent starter types

When you turn on a fluorescent tube, the starter is a closed switch. The filaments at the ends of the tube are heated by electricity, and they create a cloud of electrons inside the tube.

The fluorescent starter is a time-delay switch that opens after a second or two. When it opens, the voltage across the tube allows a stream of electrons to flow across the tube and ionize the mercury vapor. Without the starter, a steady stream of electrons is never created between the two filaments, and the lamp flickers.

Without the ballast, the arc is a short circuit between the filaments, and this short circuit contains a lot of current. The current either vaporizes the filaments or causes the bulb to explode.

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The glow tube incorporates a switch which is normally open. When power is applied, a glow discharge takes place which heats a bimetal contact. A second or so later, the contacts close and provide current to the fluorescent filaments.

fluorescent starter types

Since the glow is extinguished, there is no longer any heating of the bimetal and the contacts open. The inductive kick generated at the instant of opening triggers the main discharge in the fluorescent tube.

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If the contacts open at a bad time, there isn't enough inductive kick and the process repeats. Print "How does a fluorescent starter work? How Light Works.

fluorescent starter types

The starter which is simply a timed switch allows current to flow through the filaments at the ends of the tube. The current causes the starter's contacts to heat up and open, thus interrupting the flow of current.

The tube lights. Since the lighted fluorescent tube has a low resistance, the ballast now serves as a current limiter. The most common fluorescent starter is called a "glow tube starter" or just starter and contains a small gas neon, etc. While all starters are physically interchangeable, the wattage rating of the starter should be matched to the wattage rating of the fluorescent tubes for reliable operation and long life.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.

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 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.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. 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.

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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.

Understanding Fluorescent Tube Sizes – Which Do You Need?

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.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.

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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. Log in Facebook Loading Google Loading Civic Loading No account yet? Create an account. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. By using our site, you agree to our cookie policy. As the COVID situation develops, our hearts ache as we think about all the people around the world that are affected by the pandemic Read morebut we are also encouraged by the stories of our readers finding help through our site. Article Edit. Learn why people trust wikiHow.


To create this article, 34 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. Together, they cited 5 references. This article has also been viewed 1, times. Learn more Explore this Article Steps. Tips and Warnings. Related Articles. Article Summary. Before you go to the trouble of replacing the ballast, you should determine if a bad ballast is indeed the likely cause of the problem.The fluorescent lamp is a major advancement and a commercial success in small-scale lighting since the original tungsten incandescent bulb.

These bulbs are highly efficient compared to incandescent bulbs. Fluorescence is the phenomenon in which absorption of light of a given wavelength by a fluorescent molecule is followed by the emission of light at longer wavelengths. Please watch the following presentation about fluorescent bulbs:. These fluorescent bulbs that you are seeing, the long tubes, basically have two electrodes on the sides. And you pass electric current, and that creates an arc between the two electrodes, and that tube is filled with inert gasses.

The inert gasses are argon or an argon plus krypton mixture. No air in there. Just an argon plus krypton mixture, and you spark it with a little bit of mercury in there.

When you generate that arc between two electrodes, on the two sides of that tube, that arc excites these mercury atoms to a higher state. And then when they are coming back to the ground state, they have to release that excess energy that they absorbed, and they release it as non-visible UV light. UV light is not visible. UV light is dangerous. Remember, UV light is what comes out when the mercury atoms are coming back to the ground state.

But you know this tube is coated on the inside. The inside wall is coated with a different material, a special material called phosphorous. And those particles that are coated have a unique ability to absorb this UV light that is released when the mercury atoms are coming to the ground state. So that is absorbed, and that phosphorous coating will give out visible light. It absorbs UV light and gives out visible light. So without that phosphorous coating in there, a fluorescent bulb would not work.

Fluorescence is absorbing UV light in the phosphorous and giving out visible light. So, change of frequency, or change of energy status, is called fluorescence and a bulb that uses this principle is called a fluorescent bulb. A fluorescent bulb consists of a glass tube with a phosphorus coating, a small amount of inert gas usually argon or kryptonmercury, and a set of electrodes.JavaScript 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.

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