Barn LIghting Question

exmarApril 29, 2011

When I built my barn about 9 years ago, I ran one 20 Amp circuit for the outlets, and one 15 amp circuit for lighting. I hadn't thought much about it, just assumed I'd pick up some 4 foot fluorscent fixtures and space equidistant around the inside. When I went to buy them, discovered the fixtures were $20 each, not including tubes. I happened to remember seeing "garage lights" on sale at a local hardware which were a 2 tube, 4 foot fluorscent with mounting hardware and a 6 foot cord and plug for $8.99 on sale AND they included tubes. Checking further, the $20 fixture and the cheap one both used the same tubes. Sooo, I bought the cheapies (6) and put in outlets so as to be able to plug them in. Worked well. Photo of fixture and outlets.

Now, it's nine years later and of the 6 installed fixtures (12 tubes) 3-4 tubes don't light up. swapping a non working tube in place of one that works, it suddenly works. Looking further into it, the contacts for the non working tubes have a little rust on them. I suppose I could take them down and burnish them or something, but repairing a $8.99 item seems counter productive. There may also be a ballast or something in the fixture which require some talking to, again, any parts would cost more than the fixture.

What I'm thinking about doing is replacing them with a simple white "screw in" bulb holder for an incandescent bulb, only using the new fluorscent replacement bulbs. I think you can get a 40 watt bulb which provides the light of a 150 watt incandescent. May also put those cheap wire cages around for protection. I've attched a photo of a lamp I use in the barn with a smaller bulb as an example.

BTW, this lamp is one my wife was throwing out and I decided it would be useful as a trouble light. Best trouble light I have, heavy base so it's stable and the flexible neck allows it to be positioned wherever needed.

My question is, has anyone else done this, or is there another alternative I should look at? I know that fluorscents don't like cold weather and I do go into the barn in winter. However, the 4 footunits seemed to work OK in cold weather other than the issue previously explained.

I know I can fix what I have, but looking for something that will be reliable, the little fluorscents seem to last forever-getting a little old to be climbing around the overhead fixing junk....:-)

Thoughts or opinions?

Thanks for your time,


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I would clean the contacts on the existing fixtures, then install the tubes with a good coating of dielectric grease on the pins. This should help with the rust problem. If you convert to screw-in fixtures, use dielectric grease on the base of the bulbs you insert; this not only helps prevent corrosion, but eases removal of the bulbs.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 7:00PM
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Ev: That is exactly what I did within my (24'x26') Barn Style Garage . One the main floor I removed six 48" Flourecent Tube Units and replaced with eight Spiral Flourescent Bulbs. On the second floor Meat Cutting and Smoker area I replaced four Tube units with the Spiral Bulbs and the overall lighting is even better thn previous tube units . The only downside is that the spiral bulbs do take a little longer warming up during winter mths . The tube units had cold weather ballasts and tubes , but overall I satified with the changeover to spiral bulbs , especially when bulb replacement time comes around . It's been 3 yrs and have not had one bulb burn out yet lol .

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 8:59AM
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Hey ewalk, great minds do think alike!!!

Good point javert, I've been meaning to get some dielectric grease, now I've got a reason. I'm still thinking of just replacing as in addition to the observed discoloration on the contacts, they're paper thin (what do I expect on a $8.99 unit?) and last time I fiddled with them, didn't have enough "memory" to rub against the lamp contact with any degree of pressure or firmness.



    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 4:09PM
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