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I have a set of recessed CFL (4-pin) lights and a few of the ballasts are failing (CFLs fail to start randomly, even after replacing them with new sets).

They are NHPSIC-626ELAT, CFL (4-pin) fixtures.

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Is there a way to get to the ballast without going through the attic (there is no access in my house)? I am thinking about replacing the CFLs with LED retrofits, but either way I have to either replace the ballast or bypass it.

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Now I'm curious. How does your house have no attic access? A side note - if you're using CFLs then they have their own ballasts. You seem to be using fluorescent bulbs in a ballasted fixture. You may wish to update your question to reflect this. –  Paul Dec 21 '12 at 2:30
    
I have access to my attic underneath my main roof. However these lights are located in the kitchen, which is not underneath the main roof, but rather an extension of the house. It has it's own roof, but I don't see a way to get in there. (hope this makes any sense) –  Curious George Dec 21 '12 at 15:03
    
I agree with @Paul, I would just call this a regular fluorescent fixture not a CFL since the ballast is not built into the bulb, but the manufacturer is clearly using the term CFL. Weird. –  Henry Jackson Dec 21 '12 at 19:10
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Compact Fluorescent is a definition of the tube form factor, not whether it has an integrated ballast for use in E26/E27 sockets. CFL was around long before it was decided to replace incandescent Edison socketed bulbs with them –  Fiasco Labs Jun 1 at 21:04

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It appears that you have a "new construction" fixture. These are designed to be installed and accessed when the drywall is down. So to work on this fixture from below, you'll have to cut an opening in the drywall. I would suggest making the opening smaller than 2'x2' so you can use the drywall patches sold by most home improvement stores. Make sure two sides of your cut are in the middle of the joist so you have something to reattach the drywall to when you're finished. And be careful not to cut too deep when opening the drywall, since there could be electric and other utility lines very close to the back side of the drywall.

new work fixture photo

Rather than just replacing the ballast, you might want to consider replacing the entire fixture with a retrofit or "old work" fixture that's designed to be installed and accessed after the drywall has been put up. The fixture is attached to the drywall directly, instead of to the joists. And the electrical is designed to be pulled through the opening when the fixture is dropped from the ceiling.

retrofit fixture photo

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Thanks Mitch, is there a way to replace the housing without cutting into the drywall? I have 6 of these in my kitchen, so i'll end up having patched holes everywhere if I cut one per can. –  Curious George Dec 21 '12 at 15:07
    
Maybe by just pushing the housing backwards into the hole, disconnecting the electrical, then installing the new cans (I don't mind the old cans sitting in the attic somehow) –  Curious George Dec 21 '12 at 15:08
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@CuriousGeorge, they will be nailed or screwed into the joist, and I'm not sure there's any other part of it that will easily give way to push it into the ceiling. If you have a lot of them, then dropping an entire section of the ceiling will probably be easier and faster. Find the existing joints in the drywall and stop the demo on those joints if possible. –  BMitch Dec 21 '12 at 18:34
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This is COMPLETELY incorrect. You DO NOT have to remove any sheetrock or ceiling material to access the ballasts or junction boxes. If that were the case then every one of these type of lights would be illegal since junction boxes and things like ballasts MUST remain accessible without removing building structure or finish material. –  Speedy Petey Nov 22 at 16:50
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SP is talking about how to "access the ballasts or junction boxes", not replacing the entire fixture. OP was talking about how to replace or bypass the ballast so SP's advice is applicable. Not really sure about what kind of LED retrofit the OP was thinking of. –  Philip Ngai Nov 23 at 8:13

new-work Halo cans are adjustable to accommodate different ceiling height. Remove the reflector trim and the lamp. Then remove the three sheet metal screws from near the bottom of the can. Slowly work the can down and out. There is enough slack in the jacketed cable to let the can hang about six inches below the ceiling. Reach through the hole and unclip the face of the junction box to expose the wiring. With power off you should be able to disconnect the 120VAC. If you want to see how these are wired before you pull the can, go to Home Depot and look at a bare new-work fluorescent can. Anyway, look at the armored wires going from the can to the junction box and make sure the ends inside the box are detached, whether you have to cut them or just remove wire nuts. Then take slip joint pliers and squeeze the end of the cable lock to free the armored section from the junction box and remove and discard the can. Buy a new Edison base Halo H-7ICAT assembly and remove the can portion from the frame as described above. You'll have to cut the push connectors off the end of the wires. Strip 5/8" of insulation off the ends of the wires and reinsert throught the hole in the side of the old junction box until the anchor locks. Attach the can wires to 120VAC, bypassing the ballast, which should be completely disconnected. Replace the metal cover on junction box, reinsert can through the ceiling hole, align screw holes, adjust can height to ceiling thickness, and insert screws. If you want, you can push new insulation through the ceiling hole before reinserting the can. You can also caulk the cracks between the ceiling surface and the edge of the can to make it airtight. Once that's done, remove the socket holder and shield inside the can, attach the Edison base LED pigtail that comes in the LED retrofit kits, install the LED kit and you're done.

I've had to install a bunch of these where I had no attic access. Works great and you don't have to cut the ceiling.

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There are 3 or 4 screws accessible from inside the can. Remove these screws and then push the can up and through the housing. Then you have access to the built in j-box where you can unclip and remove the inside cover to get to the interior ballast wiring.

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