Fluorescent Shop Light Repair





Introduction: Fluorescent Shop Light Repair

Fluorescent lights from places like Home Depot look good and seem like a real bargain but the ballasts inside don't last. The lights come with a warranty but removing the light and returning it about once a year isn't worth the trouble.
I have several lights in my garage and basement from Home Depot that I installed about 3 years ago. Although I have never had to replace the tubes in them yet all of the ballasts have gone bad in that time.
This instructable will show you how to repair and upgrade cheap fluorescent lights so they will be better than new and will last a long time.

Step 1: Materials Needed

The materials you need are
The new ballast. I have chosen is Advance REL -2P32-SC because I found it cheap on ebay. I am using 2 32watt T8 tubes per fixture. This particular ballast is discontinued, but Advance sells newer type ballasts such as ICN-2P32-N that install the same way.
the main things to look for are voltage (probably 120 volt if this is in your home), number of tubes the ballast will light (probably 2), the type of tubes you will be using (probably T8. I prefer to use T8 because they are more efficient than T12 and T8 will start in cold weather) and the wattage of the tubes you will be using (probably 32 watt)
Small wire nuts.
a pointed sheet metal screw
1/4" Nut driver
Wire stripper

Step 2: This Is a Common Problem

These ballasts burn out all the time. I got tired of constantly replacing the fixtures, so I decided to replace the ballasts with high quality ones. I have changed more of these ballasts than I can remember, but I have not replaced any of the fluorescent bulbs since I switched to T8.
T8 tubes are more efficient and have a long life.

Step 3: Disassemble the Light Fixture

First of all unplug the light. Then remove the fluorescent tubes and the shade exposing the ballast and wires.

Step 4: Cut Out the Old Ballast

Cut all of the wires close to the ballast. The blue disk you can see in this picture is an MOV I installed to try and protect the old ballast. It didn't help, this ballast died anyway. I will remove it as I install the new ballast

Step 5: Install the New Ballast

Remove the dead ballast and install the new one. The new ballast didn't fit the original mounting hole so I used a pointed sheet metal screw. I didn't need to drill a hole, I just pushed hard as I turned the screw and it worked itself through

Step 6: Connect the Wires

One end of the light may have a wire joining the two sockets together. This wire is usually yellow. All of the wires on this end will need to be joined together. This instant start ballast doesn't need to heat the filaments in the tubes so only one ballast wire (the red one on this ballast) will need to be connected to all of these wires

Step 7: Connect the Socket Wires

On the other end of the fixture one socket is wired with blue wires and the other socket is wired with red wires. Both red socket wires need to be connected to one of the blue ballast wires, and both blue socket wires need to be connected to the remaining blue ballast wire

Step 8: Finish the Wiring

Complete the wiring by connecting the black wires together and white wires together. The replacement ballast doesn't use a ground wire, but there should already be a ground wire attached to the fixture housing from the factory. Tuck all the wires up so they are inside the fixture housing so they won't be pinched when you reinstall the shade

Step 9: Install the Shade

Reinstall the shade, plug in the light and try it out.
The result is you now have a light that is very efficient, it will work in cold weather, the tubes will last a long time and the fixture is dependable.



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    45 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Thanks for the instructable, I've been looking for a way to revive my cheap walmart fixtures, i knew it couldn't be all that hard! :D

    This was interesting, but it did not indicate how to solve my problem. I am installing one fluorescent light, out of eight in our kitchen. Everything went fine until the time came to attach the light to the A/C. None of the wires coming from the other lights matched up. The light I was installing had red, black and green attachments. The wiring tying this light into the chain had brown, blue and green wiring.

    1 reply

    I you can't figure this out, you shouldn't be messing with mains woltage in the first place.

    I can enhance my solar panels by having the arc from my 12,000-volt Jacob's Ladder float up past its face, but now I need to treat the installed panels in lying the horizontal plane. I want to try capturing the arc in a neon or florescent tube. What is likely to happen if I wire 12,000 volts to my neon or florescent tube?

    I am having a perplexing problem... I have 4 separate fluorescent light fixtures in my shop. One quit about 6-months ago and I replaced the ballast. Now...quite suddenly...the other 3 have failed. They do not fail all the time - but it appears that if they are left on for a while, they fail (always simultaneously). Do you think it is possible that they are wired in parallel instead of in series?? I've checked and in the failed mode, they do not appear to be powered.

    1 reply

    Answered my own question.... Checked the original fixture that I replaced the ballast on and found a wire nut that was JUST loose enough to permit the circuit to be broken once the wires got warm. All is normal now.

    Is there a way to take a dual bulb fixture and make it work with one bulb

    Dear technically minded specialists,
    There is a problem and I am looking for solution. Maybe You can help me. :)
    Description of situation:
    Few days ago the electronic Ballast for 15W fluorescent T8 lamp has been burned out. I checked that 2 resistors were broken. Possible reason – during assembling of the unit the solder has got inside and after years has made the short circuit. I am not very qualified electrician and therefore I am looking for help – what exact type of resistors I must get to replace. There are no marks stayed on broken ones. I have other 15W fluorescent T8 lamp with the similar working ballast, but, unfortunately, they are not identical.
    There are attached photos of broken scheme and of similar, good one, maybe it help You. My great necessity is to get know – what exact type of resistors I must take to replace.
    Being thankful, waiting for response, Very, very sincerely,

    2 replies

    You have more parts dead, the resistors burned because the npn transistors burned out to short, also the large electrolytic capacitor is bulged so it doesn't work long either. It's easier to buy new than fix this.

    The resistors burned out because the ballast failed (they act like fuses). Replacing the resistors will not fix the problem. You need a new ballast.

    You should really be carefull when you wire up the cables that go to the Tubes, they can contain up to 5000 Volts!

    9 replies

    I can't remember the voltage (not that high though) but the start voltage is current limited using a capacitor.
    Bare 220v lines on the other side of the ballast are fare more dangerous.

    lol wow no 5000V is a stretch, the only time there could be 5000V is when you switch on and off that only with a wound ballast. 5000V would not be present when using a electronic ballast. If anything for a 240 volt wire wound ballast fluorescent light fitting there would be less than 120volt across the filament of the fluorescent lamp. You would get 5000V in a neon tube display or a TV tube.

    If anything for a 240 volt wire wound ballast fluorescent light fitting there would be less than 120volt across the filament of the fluorescent lamp.

    Its a florescent tube, and it has no filament...

    well...they do nothing, all that is needed is that electricity is exposed at the two ends of the tube.

    Yeah companies just put them in there because they have nothing else better to do. Too bad they never met you huh?

    My sarcasm detector went off, Next time use sarcasm tags. Are you being sarcastic?