I have a set of fluorescent tubes (2) in my kitchen and they both do not work (noticed while I came home).

Normally one of the starters is broken and I replace it but this time both lights to not work. Changing starts neither.

What can I best do component inside but I don't know if I can buy it separately and I wonder if buying new tubes will help if maybe there might be some other problem.

3 Answers 3


Flouresent lamps do go bad over time, If you have replaced several starters the next step would be new lamps especially if the ends are dark or black. On older fixtures with mag ballast (requiring starters) the ballast do go bad but I have seen them last over 50 years. If the fixture will not light with new lamps the next item would be the ballast (most of the time it is cheaper to purchase a cheap fixture with a ballast and use the ballast in the old fixture. It amazes me that you can find entire fixtures for 1/2 the cost of a ballast. You may notice quite a bit more light with new lamps I recommend going for 5k or higher color for a true light color where 3k looks a bit orange/yellow in comparison. When purchasing a new ballast make sure to get one rated for the size and length lamps your fixture uses if saving a high quality fixture. Just thought I should add this if a t8 or t12 4' lamp is in the fixture I have started going with 22 watt led replacements easier than replacing a ballast and more light from what I see. Most of the UL approved. LED retrofits have the neutral on 1 side of the tombstone and the hot on the other side (I get the ones that do not need the ballast) I have completely relamped 2 workshops and 1/2 of my shop at work with these for just a couple $ more than quality lamps cost with no ballast to fail. Less power used instant on to full power and longer life. There 18 watt that is supposed to be the same light output as a 4' t8 lamp but the price difference was less than 1 dollar per unit, I have requests to do 6 more areas every one loves them and they don't flicker when it is cold.

  • 3
    I wouldn't buy a cheap fixture for the ballast unless I wanted a very, very cheap ballast. I would suggest getting better at buying ballasts. I get top makes at sane prices on bulb and ballast websites, and ebay. Sep 14, 2017 at 0:37
  • 2
    Honestly I don't see any real difference in the top of the line brands I use at work and the less expensive ones I use at home, unless you add the fact that commercial ballast emits more electrical noise than home rated ballast.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 14, 2017 at 1:40
  • weren't you just saying electronic ballasts have short lives? Sep 14, 2017 at 4:11
  • Thanks for the detailed answer and tips ... I will go for a new fixture. Sep 14, 2017 at 8:55

If you don't feel like replacing the fixture and know the lamp is good then I would suggest that you replace the ballast.

The newer generation of electronic ballasts are smaller and inexpensive, they do away with the starter cap. Go to either an electrical supply store or order online. Online is the best option IMO. Match input voltage and match the ballasts output to the lamps specs.

Turn the power off and remove the old ballast. After power is confirmed off, clip all wires close to the ballast, this will ensure you have enough wire to splice in a new ballast. You will need to follow a relatively easy diagram to rewire which is usually printed on the ballast. Make sure to have some strippers and small blue wire nuts or the proper size push in pressure type connectors on hand to make splices.

Of course, this depends on skill, determination, etc. If you don't feel comfortable with electricity then hire an electrician. It's an easy job time wise. If you supply the parts the cost won't be that bad.

  • Electronic ballast have a much shorter life span than electronic ballast.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 14, 2017 at 1:41
  • 1
    @EdBeal, I think you want to revise your comment (and delete mine in the process) Your choice is fish.
    – noybman
    Sep 14, 2017 at 3:13
  • Thanks for the answer, probably I will go for a new one. Sep 14, 2017 at 8:55
  • Wow thanks noybman, mag ballast last longer than electronic in my experience.
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 14, 2017 at 13:41

If your fixture still uses starters, I would modernize it.

I'd start by figuring out which tube it takes.

Then I'd try to find for a T8 type tube that physically fits the same: if that can be found, it is preferable. You can also get them as high as 90 CRI which makes for really excellent light, better than even available LEDs.

Once I have settled on the tubes to be used, I would then look for an electronic ballast that is compatible with the tubes. All of them will start reliably, not hum, and not flicker.

Look at your fixture and see whether there is one wire going to each end of each tube, or two. If it has starters, it is most likely two. If only one, you need an instant start ballast. Otherwise any will do.

The difference is that a rapid-start ballast pauses for an instant before starting, but the tubes will last 2-3 times as long; and a programmed-start ballast will take potentially longer still to start, depending on conditions, but will be much easier still on the tubes. Programmed-start is desirable when the bulb is rather hard to get to, or turns on/off a lot.

If you prefer, you can find LED replacement "tubes" that direct-wire, and bypass the ballast completely.

  • Thanks for the answer, probably I will go for a new one. Sep 14, 2017 at 8:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.