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lighting problem

This is a little off topic, but I'm not certain who else
to ask. Feel free to redirect me to a better source of

At the moment, I have 10 four foot (40W) (T12) fluorescent 
light fixtures, each driving 2 fluourescent lamps.
Yesterday evening when I arrived home, I discovered that
9 of the 10 fixtures where damaged in some fashion. 2 units
appear to be completely dead. 2 units appear to only be
driving the lamps at about 25%. The remainder are in some
bizarre state in which the lamps illuminate for about half
a second and then go off. These cycle constantly on and off.
I replaced lamps with new ones, but the behavior persists.
The fixtures are on 3 different electrical circuits within
my house. The only other electrical device in my house that
is exhibiting unusual behaviour is my telephone answering
machine, which appears to be in a completely reset mode.
This should never happen, as it has a battery backup to
carry it over in case of a power outage, and I know the
battery is fresh.

This is not the result of a power outage, as I have 
numerous electronic clocks (clock radios/microwave/VCR/etc)
that reset if the power goes out, but none of them were
out. Could my house have experienced some kind of a power
surge that somehow knocked out all of these devices? Was/Is
there anything I can do to prevent this? Does anyone have
any idea what might have happened?

Additional, possibly useful information: The only 40W
fixture that didn't suffer was an older, very heavy,
tar ballast based fixture. Further, I have five small
18W "Lights of America" fixtures (el cheapo) that are
working fine. All other electrical appliances appear to
be functioning normally, including my home computer,
which is always on.

Now for the ugly part: Can anyone recommend a specific
fixture (or ballast only) as replacement part? This is
going to cost me a wee bit of money to fix. :-(
I am very biased towards 4 foot 40W (T12) fluorescent 
fixtures. However, I am willing to entertain arguments 
for the newer style electronic T8 fixtures. Specific
Grainger part numbers would also be helpful, if anyone
has that handy.

Eric Deese   Columbus, Ohio  USA

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