How to Troubleshoot Fluorescent Lights

3 Sep 2020 Licensed Electrician

Fluorescent lights are a great way to get a lot of long-lasting light into a space, but they can also be a major hassle. Fixing them requires extra steps, they are harder to install than regular fixtures, there are often multiple explanations for problems, and even disposing of burnt out light tubes requires extra care. At Expert Electric, we know how to troubleshoot fluorescent lights in order to ensure that our clients’ light fixtures perform as well as possible.

Troubleshooting Flickering or Dead Fluorescent Light Fixtures

Knowing how to troubleshoot fluorescent light fixtures can be incredibly useful. Although most of the problems are reasonably easy to fix, discerning the cause of an issue can be troublesome. The most common problem with fluorescent lights is flickering tubes. In most cases, flickering fluorescents are caused by a problem with one of three things: the starter, the tubes, or the ballast.

Problems with Fluorescent Light Tubes

Sometimes, fixing a fluorescent light tube is as simple as jiggling or twisting the faulty tube, as the problem might be caused by a loose connection. If any of the tubes are dark near the ends, it is likely that they are reaching the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced. The best way to test a tube to see if it is the culprit is to remove it and plug it into a different fixture that you know works. In fixtures with multiple tubes, one faulty tube could cause flickering in the other tubes, so make sure that you test them before buying all new fluorescent tubes.

Fluorescent Light Starter Issues

Many modern fluorescent light fixtures do not include starters, but most models older than fifteen years do. Check behind the bulbs for the starter, which looks like a grey metal cylinder attached to the frame of the light fixture. If you do not have a starter on your fixture, you can move on. A defective one can cause flickering or complete darkness.

Fluorescent Light Ballast Problems

One of the most common (and most expensive) causes of problems with fluorescent lights is the ballast. Sometimes, it can be cheaper to replace the entire light fixture than it is to replace a ballast, so talk to an electrician about the best solution for your needs. The ballast is what regulates the current running through the tubes in order to ensure that they produce a balanced amount of light. When it malfunctions or wears out, the lights can begin to darken or flicker. If you have exhausted all other possibilities as to what the problem is with your fluorescent light, then the issue is likely stemming from the ballast.

If you would like to learn more information about how to troubleshoot fluorescent lights, or to find out more about the residential and commercial electrical services we offer, please contact Expert Electric at 604-681-8338.