Re:Electronic ballast problem

Daniel wrote Wed, Mar. 13 (Digest #329)
>        I'm just setting up a 30g tank, and I foolishly bought two 20w
>(24") tubes and an electronic ballast to power them, even though I don't
>know much about fluorescent lighting.  I hooked up the ballast
>(Coralife/Energy Savers Double Wizard T-12 kit) and lights (one 20w Triton
>and one 20w Beauty Light) according to the box instructions, but the lights
>won't light up reliably. Sometimes I can get both lights to come on if I
>rub just one of the bulbs with my finger-- as if the electric field in the
>bulbs is almost, but not quite, strong enough to get things going. What's
>going on? What might I be doing wrong?

Paul K. responded (Digest #333) with some good points on making sure
that there is a  grounded metal surface parallel and near to the bulbs.  
In addition to  this I have also experienced a similar problem with my
fluorescent shop light fixtures.  Every morning I would have to touch
the bulbs to get  them to start. I tried adding strips of copper tape to
beef up the grounding of the metal fixture, soldering all connections and
even adding a piece of copper tape that went from the fixture to the bulb 
surface.  None of these attempts worked.

My wife and I left this half functioning setup over Christmas and had a near
disasster when the ground fault breaker tripped and killed all the power 
to the tank.  We came home to a bunch of limp plants and shivering fish. 
With a little  investigation I determined that it was the lights that
were causing the  GFI to trip.  I guess that the lights didn't like
having water dripping  from all of their surfaces  (just a small
humidity problem).  I now have a fan in my hood that comes on about 1/2 
hour before the lights do to dry things out.  I haven't had a problem with 
getting the lights to start by themselves since.

I hope this helps!

Ian McPherson					Belleville, Ontario, Canada
ian.mcpherson at nt_com