Faulty fluorescent tubes

  GRTF 15:02 03 Sep 2007

Does anyone know what is wrong with fluorescent tubes these days?
I remember the days when tubes had to be changed because the ends had become so blackened through extended use that the light output had become so dim. Nowadays tubes fail after less than a year (they just won't start.)The coatings at the end of thes tube look absolutely brand new, but they are now no use. Changing the starter makes no difference.
I use a single 1500mm tube in my kitchen but I'll now have to give up on them because replacing tubes on such a high ceiling is becoming a problem.
I use a GEC Standard White T8 58W/35.Is this a widespread problem? Is there a solution?

  Arnie 16:33 03 Sep 2007

I'm surprised you have to change a fluorescent tube on such a regular basis.

Most tubes have blackened ends by the time they need to be changed.
As long as the starter and choke are starting the tube ok I can't understand why this problem occurs.

The only thing I can think of, is that the tubes you are using have short life filament heaters.

Have you tried a different make of lamp?

I generally use Thorn tubes.

  GRTF 19:16 03 Sep 2007

Thank you for your response. Next time I'll try a Thorn tube and see if that makes a difference. Maybe I'll also try anothere make of starter; the first signs of impending failure is hesitating in starting. Sometimes switching off then on again helps.

  Arnie 23:49 03 Sep 2007

Two further points.

Next time a tube appears dead check the heaters to see if they are open circuit.
Remove the tube and check for continuity across the pins with a multimeter set to the low ohms range.

Make sure the tube is a good fit in its end sockets.

This site describes the operation of a fluorescent tube circuit.

click here

  GRTF 08:22 05 Sep 2007

Thank you for your help, Arnie. I'll take note of your suggestions and thanks for the link.

  Seth Haniel 16:19 05 Sep 2007

a starter system - mostly these days the fittings have electronic/tridonic ballasts which do away with the starter and probably give the tube a better life span

  Arnie 00:10 06 Sep 2007

"probably give the tube a better life span".

From what I remember, the systems you mention work on a very high frequency compared with the 50Hz mains.
This should give an extended life to fluorescent tubes and I believe a more efficient system.

The only trouble is, are the general public willing to pay the higher cost of these units?

  Seth Haniel 08:18 06 Sep 2007

trouble is the general public will soon have no choice as the energy efficient electronic systems are replacing the outdated starter systems

and you just have to look at the price of an energy saving bulb compared to the cost of a normal filament bulb ( i can get 30 60w bc bulbs for the price of one 60w equivalent energy saver bulb)

  Arnie 09:24 06 Sep 2007

Energy saving bulbs have dropped considerably in price.
I use them in every room of the house. Two chandeliers in the front room carry six of them.

Regarding the electronic ballast systems, like all products, as more people buy them their costs will plummet.

Digital cameras and LCD screens are just two good examples of this.

  Arnie 09:35 06 Sep 2007

that the energy saving bulbs to which I have referred earlier, are the standard run-of-the-mill fluorescent bulbs.

These are certainly well worth using to replace filament bulbs.

  oresome 13:24 06 Sep 2007

I recently purchased energy saving bulbs from Morrisons for around 35p each.

A range of wattages and made by Philips.

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