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Lights stopped working on a 48" 2-lamp fluorescent fixture in the laundry room. Figured this to be a ballast issue, but I bought new LED tubes in addition to a new T8 ballast.

I put the new bulbs in first, just in case, and one bulb would briefly flicker once - and that's it. Switched the bulbs, and the same bulb briefly flickered while on the other side.

Started to then wire up the new ballast, until I realized the coloring and wires are different from existing ballast to new. The existing ballast is IG230ELSX, and has a black and white coming from on the left of the ballast, and two reds, two blues, and two yellows from the right side of the ballast. Two reds go directly to two reds on one socket of the right side of the lamp, and two blues go directly to two blues on the other socket on the right side of the lamp. The two yellows go to a socket on the left side of the lamp, and then a black jumper wire from that socket to the other socket on that same side. Black and white go to hot and neutral from the ceiling.

Now, the new ballast from Lowes is a GE PC16112, and is indicated to be appropriate for 120V 2-lamp T8s. But, it has black and white coming from the left of the ballast, and only two blues and one red on the right side of the ballast. What am I left to do with the yellow wires that are wired to the left side of my lamp, and the lack of an additional red?

Not sure if this is coincidental or not, but I replaced the light switches for new rocker switches a few weeks prior to this happening. It's on a three-way switch, so I uninstalled and reinstalled new ones, just to eliminate that as a variable.

Thoughts???

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    Do you know the difference between plug-n-play and direct-wire? – Harper Jan 1 '18 at 21:40
  • List your LED tube model for additional help. You might have direct wire (ballast removal) tubes. – Bryce Jan 2 '18 at 8:56
  • I hope you did not blow the lamps some direct wire or ballast bypass led tubes will be ruined if installed with the ballast still connected. – Ed Beal Jan 3 '18 at 0:21
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This is what happens when you walk into Home Depot and buy a bunch of random parts. Which is why I do not like Home Depot. That, and their prices are outrageous.

Currently, you have a genuine fluorescent fixture, with a rapid-start ballast. (Or possibly the even better programmed-start type). Hence, the 2 wires to each end of each tube. The 2 wires use the little filaments in the tubes to preheat the tube, which makes it easier to start (strike the arc). A fluorescent makes a Tesla-coil style arc through a tube of argon gas. In fact Tesla invented this.

What you bought was an instant-start ballast, which only has 1 wire per end, because it ignores the filaments and strikes the arc with a violent voltage surge. This is hard on the tube, so don't use them where tubes are hard to replace. I'd call it a cheapie ballast, but in fact it is not cheaper.

You have not told us if this was originally a T8 or T12 ballast. (It is an option to stay with T12, and today's tubes are excellent due to new quality standards). I have been switching to T8 because my old T12 ballasts are failing, and I'm not buying new T12 ballasts. Nope.

You have no idea if the fluorescent tubes are bad, or if it's the ballast. OK. Are there black marks a couple inches from the ends of the tubes?

Staying real fluorescent and switching to T8 is a good plan.

For that, you need to buy actual fluorescent tubes with the argon gas. Sylvania has some 90CRI tubes that I absolutely love, and I pay about $1.60 a tube in 36 quantity.

You need to sort out whether you want to stay with rapid-start or the deluxe programmed-start ballasts; or switch to the poor instant-start type. Instant-start does have one advantage, implied in its name. It is not as likely to work well in very cold; for that go programmed-start. All will not flicker.

Your fixture's wiring can handle any type.

To switch ballasts, if the old ballast is known-bad, cut the wires flush at the ballast. Otherwise leave 6” so it could be reused. Don't tear too much wire out of your fixture, sourcing legal 18AWG 600V wire is hard, and sourcing the wrong wire is too easy.

If you replace with a rapid or programmed start ballast, it's real simple - yellow to yellow (interchangeable), blue to blue, red to red, done. Use blue sized wire nuts. Don't bother fiddling with the sockets (lampholders/tombstones).

If you replace with an instant-start, then one color (blue or red) has only one wire. Both yellows go to that color. Both blues from the fixture go to one of the remaining wires. Both reds to the other.

Don't worry about the excess wire, just fold it back and put the cover over it, there's room in there. It does no harm.

Now having ballasted it for actual fluorescent tubes, you could put LED replacement devices in there if you really want to, but ...facepalm... Why. Modern real tubes are better light. If you do this, you use LED types called Plug-n-Play, and you must make sure the subtype of plug-n-Play LED matches your ballast type - instant-start, or rapid/programmed-start. But this is stupid, because you are forcing a ballast to drive something it was not designed to drive.

Or use direct-wire LED replacement "tubes"

In these, you wire 120V straight to the LED "tube" and remove the ballast entirely. These come in two types.

  • Power on each end of the tube: in this case you wire both yellows to supply neutral, and both blues and both reds to supply hot.
  • Power on the same end of the tube: in this case you wire supply hot to one yellow, supply neutral to the other yellow, and cap off each red and blue wire separately. If you install the LEDs and they don't work, flip them around so you're plugging in the opposite end.
  • For a broader orientation to the subject matter, see my encyclopedia on the subject. – Harper Jan 2 '18 at 22:58
  • This is an exceptionally well written response, however, given the nature of the question I do not think the OP has the experience \ background to visualize the wiring diagram and re-wire: he would be better off using exact replacement parts and not attempting to rewire \ change the system (KISS principle) – gatorback Dec 28 '18 at 2:45
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My guess is that ballast is for older style T 8 that had separate starters ( the yellow wires); most fixtures are self/instant starting. I have replaced a lot T 8 bulbs and I would say less than one fixture in ten needs a ballast also.

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Given the modest price of direct wire (no ballast) LED tubes, that's the way I'd go. Return all the other parts in good condition for a full refund. You won't need a ballast at all when done.

You have "unshunted tombstone lampholders", so you can use any of available direct wire LED tubes. If you had shunted tombstones, you'd need to pick a LED tube with two side (not single end) power connection.

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