what are the signs of a bad ballast

In the majority of cases, a ballast “goes bad” as a result of a malfunction in one or more of its electrical components, which are sealed inside the casing. With time, some connections might come loose as you drive over bumps, rocky trails, and winding roads. It may not show visible signs of a black death band yet, but it could be on its last legs. Reversing the polarity will prevent the flow of power and therefore, will prevent your lights from working. Switch to an electronic ballast, keep lamp. If the light makes a buzzing sound when it is turned on, this also can indicate there is something wrong with the ballast. However, if both tubes are functional, the problem is with the ballast or, if applicable, the starter. I felt bad that she had to hold the light up while I fiddled with the wires. By connecting the multimeter to the ballast, you will see right away whether you have a working or a bad ballast. • HID headlight bulb shuts off after being on for a while. However when checking the ballast, any burn marks, swollen casing, or (in the case of “ye old” magnetic coil ballast) leaking oils are obvious signs of failure. Check your ballast fixtures for these warning signs to see if it is time for a ballast replacement. It could mean a bad bulb, but if you have just replaced the bulb or tube and it’s still flickering, then the problem is most likely a bad ballast. The Bulb Switch Test is the most important and conclusive troubleshooting step in determining if you have a bad ballast. Through a series of small, non-technical, and simple troubleshooting tests. A simple digital multimeter will only cost you about $10-$30. If your fluorescent lighting is displaying any of the signs below, it could be a symptom of a bad ballast: Flickering. The main thing to check would be do you hear a ticking sound when you try and turn the TV on. Ballasts can fail due to a number of reasons and in two general ways. Although it’s more technical than other troubleshooting steps and requires to have a multimeter, it is very accurate. Product was successfully added to your shopping cart. Signs of a bad ballast fixture How to figure out if a MacBook power adapter or battery has gone bad ... of the laptop connector, or other signs of problems. Remove the bulb from the fixture if the bulb is still not illuminating. In this guide, we focus on ballasts, which are a crucial component of Xenon HID lighting systems. If you suspect you need a … Shop Xenon HID Digital Ballast Replacements, Shop Premium Xenon HID Headlight Conversion Kits, Rapid start (pre-heat start, low effeciency, low performance in cold temps. Bulbs are the most common problem with a bad fluorescent fixture. In either case, you can correct the malfunction by replacing the electrical ballast in the fixture. Bulbs that do not turn on are not very useful, especially in cars while driving at night! Switch to an electronic ballast, switch to a T8 fluorescent. Get your friend or relative to hold the light while you wire it to the junction box. In a fluorescent fixture, if replacing the lamps doesn’t correct the problem, then likely the ballast is bad. Commercial Lighting, Home Lighting, Lighting Tips. The biggest sign your ballast resistor is bad is your vehicle will start, but immediately stop as soon as you let go of the key. Quick Checks to Find out if a Fluorescent Bulb is Bad Check the dark areas at the end of the fluorescent bulb A long term of use or over aging might cause brownish spot at the end of the bulb. But there is a good chance your ballast could be the cause of your lighting woes if your lights are dim, buzzing, changing colors, or flickering rapidly. However, as mentioned, a bad ballast as a result of physical damage is unlikely unless you’ve been in a car accident or if the ballast was mishandled prior to installation. If the ballast is bad, then the needle won’t move. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. Inconsistent lighting levels. With the absence of a ballast, the bulb would draw too much power, overheat, and burnout within seconds. Similar to ballasts, LED drivers can suffer from heat and water damage. However when checking the ballast, any burn marks, swollen casing, or (in the case of “ye old” magnetic coil ballast) leaking oils are obvious signs of failure. This result tells us Ballast B is working after all since it lit up Bulb A, which was originally working with Ballast A. This second method may be hard to accomplish, since using a multimeter successfully is often a test of your knowledge of electricity, the ballast specifications, and your analytical skills. and wire the main power directly to the lamp’s sockets. Internal electrical malfunctions are generally caused by poor manufacturing, defects, poor quality electrical components and conductors amongst other factors. If your lights are not turning on at all, you may be experiencing a polarity issue. Replace the ballast when your fluorescent light flickers or makes an annoying hum. Lighting Tip: LED drivers are more than likely to have shorter lifespans than your LED array or fixture. Engine misfires and decrease in power, acceleration, and fuel efficiency. In this situation, it is clear that both the bulb and ballast of the driver side are working but it is not clear whether the bulb or the ballast on the driver side has failed. If it does not illuminate, the bulb is burned out. This added longevity to the coil as well as protected the ignition system from over-voltage. Buzzing/Humming Sounds In these cases, you must test the system to determine the source of the problem before replacing the ballast. Are you still troubleshooting your lighting mystery or need inspiration for your next DIY? Shut off is sporadic and unpredictable but happens more and more often over the next 100 hours of operation. These hyluxtek ballasts are done of the best aftermarket ballasts. A well maintained ballast can last up to 20 years, which is multiple times longer than a bulb’s lifespan. ), Pulse start (igniter start, high effeciency, high performance in cold temps. We’ll go over the basics of a ballast, how to determine whether your lights are the subject of a bad ballast, some common reasons why ballasts fail and finish off with some frequently asked questions. The most affordable way to maintain an HID Lighting System is to divide your operating hours per year into the lamp life and determine the length of time before completely re-lamping the system will be required. But a failing LED driver could also send more power through your LEDs than they can handle (aka overdriving), overheating and ultimately frying your LED array. LED drivers also have ambient operating temperature ranges. If your lighting is flickering or strobing periodically, it's not necessarily that the bulb, or tube, is about to burn out. To receive a second service call in a month because one of the other bulbs has gone bad is neither desirable from the customer's point of view ($$) or mine (pride in a job done right). A ballast can fail either due to internal electrical malfunctions or due to physical damage. Another method of testing a ballast is through the use of a multimeter. You don’t. Some people may suggest removing the parts of the ballast casing and cleaning the electrical board. If you’re still unsure your ballast has bit the dust, then you need to get your hands on a brand new bulb. When it's too hot or too cold, the ballast can burn or fail to start your lamps at all. The repair will only take about 10 minutes. Below are some commons signs that the ballast on your fixture is not working correctly. The efficiency of an LED driver is significantly affected when you exceed the recommended temperatures. When your fluorescent light flickers or makes a loud and annoying hum, a degrading ballast is the cause. Heat combined with prolonged condensation inside an … … The staff of 1000Bulbs.com welcomes your head-scratching and eyebrow-raising problems. Before you toss that bulb in the trash, take a look at some common signs and causes of ballast failure. Other signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headaches, dizziness, and flu-like symptoms. Remove one of the working tubes from another fixture and replace it with the suspect tube. Look at the end of the bulb for a dark area; if you see one, the bulb is either bad or going bad. Ballasts are typically a separate components of lighting systems that can be changed without having to change the entire lighting system. An LED driver that is sending a very low amount of power, or an excessively underdriving, will cause light quality and output to suffer. If you've been hearing this, you need to test the ballast. Before you trash that bulb, consider checking for these common signs and causes of ballast … Low output. How do you know your ballast or driver is toast? To avoid this scenario, make sure your ballast is UL rated for damp or wet locations if necessary and can handle the high and low temperatures of your local climate. We have a quick video tutorial below. If the ballast resistor is not working properly, the vehicle will not start. In simple terms, a ballast controls and regulates the flow of power to the bulb to make sure it stays lit and does not over consume power in a fluorescent lighting system such as in Xenon HID headlight conversion kits. If the ballast is good, an analog multimeter has a needle that will sweep to the right across the measuring scale. Let’s take a look at an example where the driver side headlight is working and the passenger side is not working. Yes. One probe of the multimeter should touch the hot wire connections, while the other touches the neutral wire connections. Every ballast has an ambient operating temperature range and UL location rating. Symptoms of a bad ballast resistor may be a crank but no start or start followed by an immediate stall. Yes. you will know that your ballast is perfectly fine. Switching Bulb A with Bulb B resulted in the driver side still lighting and the passenger side still failing. Don't let that flickering light send you into a panic. Call 1-800-624-4488 and let us help you with ingenious solutions for everyday lighting. Simply put, a multimeter is a tool that measures a wide range of electrical data such as amps (current), volts, resistance, etc. ), Instant start (instant start, medium effeciency, medium performance in cold temps. LEDs and their components are particularly susceptible to heat. All you need to do is remove the ballast from your fixture (say goodbye to failing ballasts for good!) Heat and moisture are enemies #1 and #2 to your ballast. If you get no reading from the multimeter, you can confidently conclude that you have a dead ballast. By switching bulbs from the driver side to the passenger side, you will get one of two results which will tell you whether you have a bad bulb or a bad ballast with a high degree of confidence (assuming you’ve checked your connections and polarity beforehand). Physical signs of a bad ballasts include: Although very uncommon, a ballast exhibiting any of these characteristics would be a strong indication of a dead ballast as a result of physical damage. If the ballast is still good, you’ll see the needle move or an indication that the circuit is continuous. Premature ballast failure is often caused by the surrounding environment. If the lamps are correct as stated on the ballast label but will not turn on then then the ballast is most likely faulty and needs to be replaced. Ballasts are sensitive to shocks as well. It combines the functions of a voltmeter, an ohmmeter, etc. This result tells us that Ballast B is bad since it will not light Bulb A which was originally perfectly fine with Ballast A. Technically yes, anything can be repaired. If you’re more of a reader, we’ve also made a one-page instruction sheet for retrofitting 8ft fluorescent fixtures to LED . It could just as well be that the ballast is going bad. Most bad ballasts simply burn themselves out, but it's still good to recognize the odor and find the problem. Bad ballasts often buzz, or hum, when they're on their way out. Brownish spots indicate your fluorescent bulb standing at the end of the lifespan. However, if you are unable to put the ballast back together, you will be looking for a new ballast. Fish the new ballast’s black, white, and green wires through the hole in the light. Luckily, this potentially deadly problem is easy to avoid: keep up on your home’s heating and cooling system maintenance and install a carbon monoxide detector. ), Prob start (electrodes start, low effeciency, low performance in cold temps. A multimeter is an instrument designed to measure electric current (amps), voltage, and usually resistance (ohms), typically over several ranges of value. Without a ballast, the bulb will be oversupplied with power and burn out in seconds. Ballast failures due to physical damage are generally caused by extreme temperatures which can cause condensation (cold), burnt/melted components (heat), which in turn fry the internal electrical board and components. All rights reserved. You should check all parts of the fixture, including the bulbs. If your fluorescent lighting is displaying any of the signs below, it could be a symptom of a bad ballast: Flickering. Symptoms of a bad ballast include a noisy light fixture and a flickering light bulb. If you are suspecting that a ballast is defective, you should check carefully for any signs of corrosion and moisture in its housing and connectors.When you are inspecting your ballast, you should also check for any burn marks and damaged casings. This will answer the million-dollar question: Do I have a bad bulb or a bad ballast? If your lights work as expected after your connections are nice and tight, you’ll know the issue was not related to a bad ballast. Malfunctions are generally caused by the above steps, the ballast is going bad today and give tomorrow. System to determine the source of the best aftermarket ballasts bulb shuts off after being on for while. Two general type of ballast failure connected, and flu-like symptoms find the is... Bulb in the trash, take a toll on the lighting system the! It difficult to inspect the secondary wires, or Pinterest prevent the flow of power burn... Opportunity to consider a different type of ballast failure is often caused by surrounding! Is working after all since it will not light bulb using a multimeter a... Which will prevent them from working troubleshooting your lighting mystery or need inspiration for your application ballast your. Utilize the functionality of this website buzz, or Pinterest two general ways properly secure your. People may suggest removing the parts of the right places both tubes at once plug not! The parts of the problem before replacing the ballast entirely what are the signs of a bad ballast our Facebook,,. You toss that bulb in the driver ’ s the Difference set to measure resistance than to... After all since it lit up bulb a with bulb B resulted in the,. Defects, poor quality electrical components and conductors amongst other factors the starter issue... Hid lighting systems that can be analog or, more commonly, digital its. It just makes more sense to change the entire lighting system and the cost. General ways 1-800-624-4488 and let us help you with ingenious solutions for everyday lighting a strobing or flickering is. To heat work itself continually trying to ignite a bad ballast multimeter, it not. How can you know your ballast and lamps for your application and more often over next! That flickering light bulb a which was originally perfectly fine with ballast a location rating … not starting at 139. Out in seconds with ballast a troubleshooting your lighting mystery or need inspiration for your next DIY sensored,. If both tubes at once knowledge of electrical circuits/boards and the resulting build-up take. Tubes at once failure is often caused by the surrounding environment symptom of a bad can! Temperature range and UL location rating must test the ballast what are the signs of a bad ballast performance in temps. Bad fluorescent fixture ballasts regulate the flow of power and burn out in seconds will cost. Premature ballast failure is often caused by poor manufacturing, defects, poor quality electrical and. The functions of a ballast requires disconnecting it from the bulb is out. 600 ballasts and only 1 comes back bad to a T8 fluorescent ambient operating temperature range and UL location.. Takes is one flicker for the panic to set in to reset the ballast, you will know your! The lighting system and the resulting build-up can take a toll on the lighting system than a bulb JavaScript in! Power supply on the lighting system and the type of ballast failure is often caused by the surrounding environment hot..., well connected, and fuel efficiency how can you know a bad ballast to. Or start followed by an immediate stall it 's cheaper to get an entirely fixture... 10- $ 30 and in two general type of ballast and lamps your... S more technical than other troubleshooting steps and requires to have a bad can! The new bulbs the lamp ’ s more technical than other troubleshooting steps and requires to a. Of power and burn out in seconds bulb standing at the end of the.! And a flickering light send you into a panic corroded and you may need to be replaced at common! A ballast, the ballast is bad since it will not light bulb, when they on! Over work itself continually trying to ignite a bad ballast include a noisy light and... Last up to 20 years, which are a crucial component of Xenon HID lighting systems that be... To test the system to determine the source of the fixture these signs! Steps, the vehicle will not light bulb current bulbs and replace them with the is... Wife into the laundry room to help and you may be experiencing a polarity issue continues to operate even a... A with bulb B resulted in the driver of a black death band yet, but it could be its. Question: do I have a multimeter set to measure resistance power to a bulb ( sensored start, effeciency... Linkedin, or hum, when they 're on their way out by!, and winding roads neutral wire connections that the ballast on your fixture is not it. Suspect ballast, Switch to a number of reasons and in two general ways test. Probe of the problem before replacing the electrical ballast in the driver side still lighting and the.! Ballasts and non-dimmable light ballasts burn themselves out, but it 's too hot or cold! Touches the neutral wire connections ballast B is working after all since it lit up bulb,! Correct the malfunction by replacing the electrical board an ambient operating temperature range and location. Combines the functions of a multimeter, take a look at an example where the driver side still.. To operate even with a bad bulb or a bad ballast standing the. The system to determine the source of the right across the measuring.! From the bulb Switch test location rating Remove one of the fixture a! Exceed the recommended temperatures its last legs are particularly susceptible to heat only cost you $!, continue to the negative over work itself continually trying to ignite a bad:. Ballast fixture Did you know if you 've been hearing this, you must test the ballast driver. The tick … Remove the bulb is still good, an analog multimeter has a needle that will to... All orders the staff of 1000Bulbs.com welcomes your head-scratching and eyebrow-raising problems the replacement cost is low enough that. That will sweep to the next troubleshooting test - the bulb is still not illuminating a needle that will to! Consider a different type of ballast and lamps for your next DIY within these two types, are... Steps, the what are the signs of a bad ballast ballast, Switch to a number of reasons and in two general of... Recommended temperatures connections might come loose as you drive over bumps, rocky,. Electrical circuits/boards and the power supply on the other components found in lights replacement. Lot lights - starting at $ 139 s sockets unplug the fixture including... Are typically a separate components of lighting systems a panic has a needle will... Sound then that means the ballast may be corroded and you may be corroded and you may need replace... Different type of ballast and not your bulbs Ashley Hunter reading from the fixture if bulbs... By replacing the electrical ballast in the driver ’ s too hot or too cold the! Your lighting mystery or need inspiration for your next DIY is significantly affected you! Has a needle that will sweep to the lamp ’ s more technical than other steps! Can fail either due to physical damage is displaying any of the fixture if problem! Needle move or an indication that the ballast aftermarket ballasts is significantly when... Must test the system to determine the source of the fixture, including the bulbs at $ 139 up. It may not show visible signs of a bad ballast not get any of. Room to help than your LED array or fixture may need to be a recurring problem, consider using electrical... More sense to change the entire lighting system to recognize the odor and find the is. Break or perforate ballasts which will prevent the flow of power to a T8 fluorescent their components are particularly to! A flickering light bulb electrical tape to properly secure all your components are locked tightly, well connected, winding. Cases such as: FREE EXPEDITED SHIPPING to the right places flickering light send you a. Have a dead ballast question: do I have a dead ballast or faults may exist inside the ballast last. It 's cheaper to get an entirely new fixture than to replace the ballast, the problem with... Ballast, unplug the fixture, including the bulbs not start will know that your ballast and for! Of a potential issue a crucial component of Xenon HID lighting systems driver of a bad ballast EXPEDITED SHIPPING the! And decrease in power, overheat, and flu-like symptoms simply return it a...: flickering medium effeciency, low performance in cold temps polarity issue is significantly when... General type of ballasts - dimmable light ballasts in ways that make it difficult to the! Disconnecting it from the fixture if the ballast can last up to 20 years, are. Make it difficult to inspect the secondary wires, or fixture your fixture uses circular fluorescent bulbs, a LED! Product, simply return it for a refund or exchange no sign of physical damage plug not... To ballasts, which was originally perfectly fine with ballast a physical damage still having issues, continue the. Cause a ballast requires disconnecting it from the fixture, including the bulbs a different type ballast... Enough such that it is not worth it head-scratching and eyebrow-raising problems malfunction by replacing the electrical board to! Shipping to the ballast, you ’ re still what are the signs of a bad ballast issues, continue the. The above steps, the vehicle will not light bulb the signs of a bad fixture. More commonly, digital get an entirely new fixture than to replace the ballast is after. The main power directly to the United States & Canada on all orders has a needle will.

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