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Re: Shoplights; too good to be true?

>I found this post while lurking the newsgroups:
>>I have no idea what the bf of those Lights of America brand shop lights
>>are or even what they use for a ballast exactly, but I suspect they are
>>not all that high. Also the cheap ballast method those types of fixtures
>>use could indeed damage your lamps because many times they do indeed
>limit the average current to normal or below normal levels, but still
>>allow through large voltage spikes which can end up damaging the ends/
>>filaments of the lamps causing them to burn out sooner. Cheap ballasting
>>techniques could range from just a capacitor, to maybe a cap and
>>resistor, or even a cap or resistor with a (way undersized) coil of some
>>Patrick Timlin --- ptimlin at yahoo_com
>I use the Lightway Shoplights because of their hood shape, lightness atop a
>glass hood, they light-up INSTANTLY and cost just $9.99 @ Kmart.  I HATE
>those heavy ballasts; I find them undependable to use with timers and
>expensive.  Those who have spent $ on a ballast only to see their bulbs sit
>there and "simmer" know just what I'm talking about.  But is what this guy
>saying true?
>I sommon all the spirits of the "engineering inclined", to fit an answer to
>this question.  Ye wizards of technology....Ivo! Are you out there? :-)=

Yes, I think he is right. You can trust Patrick's insigth on lighting issues,
he is an expert. These low-$ shop lights use for sure cheap ballasting 
techniques that can harm the bulbs. I myself have two of these lights in the 
basement, both about 2 years old, and had to replace bulbs twice in this 
period. They burned out well before the expected life time of a regular 
fluorescent. It's not a big deal when the bulbs are $ 1.50 40 w cool whites. 
Another story would be to replace say, $ 25 apiece Tritons. 

I agree that the shape and weigth of these fixtures can be very convenient
at times. For use in an aquarium, I would just toss away the cheap circuitry
inside the fixture (or just leave it in place) and install a remote electronic
ballast to power the bulbs. IME good electronic ballasts never fail in lighting
the bulbs instantly, do not heat up and are very silent.

-Ivo Busko
 Baltimore, MD