Re: Fluorescent lights

Date: Thu Sep 09 1999 - 20:56:05 PDT

Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1999 05:56:05 +0200 (MEST)
Message-Id: <aabcdefg3198$foo@default>
Subject: Re: Fluorescent lights

chris wrote
> From: "chris" <drosera@CAM.ORG>
> Following the directions of the person who told me I would have to
> change my ballast (sorry, I don't remember your name, and I deleted
> my last CP Digest, Ooops!) I did so yesterday. The only
> disagreement with your advice that I have is that in fact, I think
> it may have been a potentially dangerous thing that was happening

It is quite rare that something goes wrong with simple ballasts.
And I consider it safe to assume that you were capable to mount the
correct ballasts for the lamps you used. Also, I assume that you knew the
risks of using electrical stuff in high-humidity environments like in
terraria and aquaria. There aren't many extra risks to foresee, normally.

> with my fluorescent light. I say this because when I opened my
> fixture, I was greeted by a quite large puddle of somekind of black
> tar that had leaked(?) from the ballast all over the inside of the
> fixture.

In the old days it has been a custom to drawn transformers and the like
in a lot of tar. It isn't supposed to melt and leak out. You didn't mention
it getting extremely hot and smelling bad, nor did you mention a drastical
change in light levels.

> I have no clue whatsoever as to the internal workings of a
> ballast, so maybe it's not as bad as I think, but being an
> electrical device, I'll just assume it was a dangerous happening.

Basically this 'ballast' is a coil of copper wire around an iron core.
It serves to delimit the current flow through the light tubes.
(An ignited gas discharge lamp must be considered a shortcut. The current
 that then will flow would quickly rise to almost infinite levels. You then
 need a current limiter of some sort, to keep it safe.)

> I also write this let others on the list know that it is at least a
> possibility that something may be seriously wrong with your lights
> if the noise they produce is too great.

The noise isn't a problem; you may have built a construction that is just
resonating at 50 or 60 Hz. When you encounter excessive heat production
somewhere, that's a better reason to get worried.

Regards, Wim.

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