The easy way to keep & maintain fluorescent lights

July 27, 2015

Fluorescent lights are getting more popular because they use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Here's how to switch out old tubes to keep your home properly lit.

The easy way to keep & maintain fluorescent lights

Switch to fluorescent and save

  • Compared with incandescent lights, fluorescent lights use considerably less electricity because they produce less heat, which is wasted energy.
  • Typical compact fluorescent lights use about one-quarter of the energy used by typical incandescent lights and may last 10 times longer.
  • They cost more initially, but compact fluorescent lights can be a money-saving choice in the long run.
  • Full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs produce light that more closely resembles light from the sun.

How to replace existing tubes

  • Buy a new tube with the same wattage rating as the old one.
  • Standard fluorescent bulbs are labelled "cool white." Those labelled "daylight" or "colour corrected" will cost more, but will also render colours better.
  • To replace a tube, grasp the old tube on both ends and twist to free the pins, then slide it out of the sockets. Reverse the process with the new tube, making sure that the pins are fully inserted into the sockets.
  • When disposing of a fluorescent tube, don't break it. The tubes contain mercury and will explode slightly when broken.
  • Dispose of tubes whole, or contact your garbage service or municipality for recommendations on disposal.

Make old fixtures work again

  • If a fluorescent light won't light, flickers on and off or is weak, first check the tube. Make sure it is inserted properly in its sockets.
  • If a tube discoloured change it.
  • On an older unit, the ballast may be bad. You can find the ballast by removing the cover plate behind the tubes. It looks like a black, rectangular box.
  • Before replacing a ballast, compare its cost to the cost of a new fixture. The difference is often so small that it makes more sense to buy a new fixture.
  • Newer units have electronic ballasts, which are not replaceable.
  • On an older fluorescent fixture, the starter may be the problem. The starter is a small metal cylinder located near one of the sockets. To remove the starter, push it in and then twist it counterclockwise. Then, replace with an exact match.

Fluorescent lights may cost more at the outset, but they last longer and cost less to run than traditional bulbs. But wen they do go out, you could now swap out the tube or fixture on your own, and see your home in the right light again.

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