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RE: T5 florescents and Ultralux Ballasts -- or - Of course it certainly might work

Diana Berberich said:

> I've been looking for good lighting and it appears the
> T5 may be it for me.  I have an Ultralux ballast which
> is able to use T5 as well as T8, T10, and T12 tubes. 
> So check out the ballast at:


>Is there anything else I need to check on before I go
> for this type of tube?  I'm currently using 4 of the
> T8's in my 36" hood.

Well, it looks remarkably like the IceCap series of
electronic ballasts, but I'm sure that's purely
coincidental ;-)

A lot of the flexibility in matching fluorescent lamps to
ballasts is due to the wide tolerance in operating
parameters of the bulbs.  They're made that way on purpose
because of the wide variety of ballasts.  You can over or
underdrive, run them in a reasonably wide range of
voltages, and still get accceptable performance for light
output, efficiency, and longevity.  Acceptable is not the
same as optimum but you usually can't get all three factors
optimized at the same time anyway :-\  .

Fluorescent lamps lose resistance as they light and warm
up.  In fact, without some limiting condition, they'l
keeping getting hotter andlosing resistance until you have
what's known in the biz as an *active failure*, which means
a burnt and burtst bulb.  If you put different tubes or
numbers of tubes or lengths of tubes on any particular
ballast, you'll change the current theorugh the bulbs
andthe voltage across each bulb. Some electronic ballasts
adapt a bit better than others to the different loads
placed on them.  But many of the claims are so extravagant
or so misleading, and number of combinations so many,
that's it hard to tell what works very well with what.

Some manufacturers, like Fulham, don't specify a
ballast-bulb-type match until they've done enough testing
with the specific ballast and bulb type match to be sure of
the performance.

Others, and I do *not* know this about Ultralux, make
claims that reach well beyond any testing or actual
results.  I've had a "chilling" experience, if you get my
drift, burning out bulbs that way.

Sometimes when one ballast is said to run 2 or 4 bulbs,
what happens is the 2 bulbs are a bit overdriven and the 4
bulbs are underdriven.  The same sort of thing goes for
different bulb types.

Your best bet is to try a match and see how it goes -- if
it dosn't work well enough, you're out some bucks.  Next
best is to get the manufacturers info on the behavior of
the ballast and bulb type, but that's usually hard if not
impossible to get.  In fact, few manufacturers that promote
"light everything" ballasts will tell you what the energy
use is with the various combinations, much less the other
performace characteristics.

A T5 is not quite the same as a T8 as a PC (some of which
are T5 in diameter but not the same performance as HO T5s)
as a T12 as a rapid start as an instant start, etc.  In
fact Osram 55 watts PCs (inline pins) do not behave the
same way as Panasonic 55 watt PCs (rectangularly arrange
pins).  They really want slightly different ballasts ( or
ballastage ;-) )

Unless a specific match is specified officially as "Okie
Dokie," then, at a minimum, contact the vendor or maker to
get their assurance that the ballast bulb type is a good
match.  Then if you get dim output or rapidly burnt bulbs,
you might get them to buy you a new set of bulbs, or at
least an apology.

Having said all that, lots of things you try will work well
enough to make you happy.

All this reminds us once again that the greatest thing
about incandescent bulbs is the incredible simplicty of
those detestably inefficient things. 

Scott H.

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