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How do you build a fluorescent light from scratch and have it plug into the classic American outlet? Answered

I am not asking how to build the bulb. Just attach the bulb+ballasts+plug it in.
I want to build several letters out of fluorescent light bulbs, for example one letter is O but it will look more like []. I want to use bulbs that are 2-4 feet long or what ever is easiest... from scratch (without buying light fixtures and taking them apart). Each letter will be constructed of 4 lights. I know that I will need to solder parts together, I will need to buy ballasts, and bulbs... But construction wise I am semi lost. Also I would like recommendations as to how many ballasts for the bulbs, I don't mind if some of the bulbs flicker. Lastly I want the bulbs to make that humming noise so if you have any idea how I can induce that other then leaving the ballasts running for a while please tell me.




8 years ago

When I've built them, I can buy suitable connectors and ballasts from the local electrical supply house, tubes are fastened down with spring clips - we call them Terry clips here

Usually UK fittings use a starter, all the american fittings I used when I worked there are a student were starter-less. Your ballasts had a wiring diagram on them.

You won't need to solder anything.

Breaking up suspended ceiling fixtures is probably THE cheapest way to do this for the parts - I think I can buy a 4 light, 2 foot unit for 50 USD equivalent.

The humming noise could be added with a very simple speaker setup.


8 years ago

I would imagine magnetic ballasts would produce a more audible humming than electronic ballasts, but if it has to hum I'd go with a speaker.

Make sure you use the right "tombstones" (the part that the pins on the bulb slide  and rotate into) for the type of tube you are using (T-8, T-12, etc.) and that the ballasts are rated for whatever current you need (120V, 277V, etc) and that the ballasts you buy are made to control the type of light you are using (especially if you are using multiple types of lights).  Usually, there will be a chart or something on the ballast as well as a wiring schematic.

Buy a ballast with the simplest wiring schematic on it and get some extra wire as well because you are not using fixtures.