First of all, I am not a native English speaker, please forgive me.

I recently rented the room I am currently living in. On the ceiling there are fluorescent fixtures like the picture below (I found this image on the Internet, but looks very similar to mine).

When I first came, two lamps would light up when I turned the light switch on. (I just found that it had 3 lamps moments ago. So, there had been one lamp that did not light up all along.) But, two were too bright for me. I had been thinking about opening the cover and taking one out (leaving only one) but I was just too lazy.

Yesterday, suddenly one of them would no longer light. So currently only one lamp (out of three) is on. The brightness of one lamp is fine for me, but I wonder if the two non-functioning lamps are still drawing power? Is it OK to leave the non-functioning lamps there?

As I said earlier, I rented this room and I will leave here in 9 months. So if there are no downsides other than they do not light up, I do not want to take the hard work of removing/attaching the cover and taking them off.

enter image description here

  • I thought of 'light' but I was not sure. As far as I know "lit" is the past particle of "light". So I should say "Does a ... that does not light..."? Or "that does not lit"? – Damn Vegetables Feb 5 '15 at 0:20
  • You are correct, but the sentence would needed to be structured slightly different to use the word "light". To elaborate much more on this will take it out of context of the forum, if not already. – Jack Feb 5 '15 at 0:44
up vote 0 down vote accepted

You can remove the lamps that are not working. This will only let the one good light to work. Perhaps one light was faulty already before you moved in and the other was ready to go bad. It will use less power and will be of no concern, I believe you operate it with only one lamp.

So you will have an idea what the condition of the lamps are, and using the picture you offered, these type of lamps when they are going bad or have gone bad, get dark spots on the ends close to where they connect to the fixture. The darkening occurs in the glass, not the porcelain. Take for example the last lamp on the right, where it connects has some darkening at the base, where the other 2 lamps do not. The lamp on the right will not work anymore in time, or perhaps is already not lighting up (glowing). These words are interchangeable here. If your lamps in the fixture of your room have dark spots at the base, close to the end or ends that plug into the fixture, then it is most likely that the lamps are bad. It does not hurt to leave them in that I know of, they may still draw some power. If you prefer not to have the room heavily lit, you will do fine by removing them temporarily and replace them in 9 months before you leave the rental, or replace them with new lamps if you wish, as a good gesture towards your landlord.

No, unlike LEDs, the fluorescent bulb itself (or rather the tube) can not use power when it burns out, however, the ballasts may use a trace of energy whether or not there is a bulb installed. Simply removing the bulbs should have no effect so there really are no downsides or problems with just leaving your bulbs the way it is unless you end up needing more light or as Jack said, if you would like to do your landlord a favor.

I hope this helps!

The ballasts ARE taking a small amount of power, to try to ignite the bulbs, which isn't working because (I guess) the bulbs are at end-of-life. Keep this in mind: good chance all 3 bulbs were replaced at the same time, meaning the third is also near its end-of-life and could blow at any time. Most likely it will fail to start when you turn it on. Plan accordingly.

I have a rule: if you have a problem, then most likely, the guy ahead of you also had that problem, and tried to fix it.

You say you have way too much light in the room. What I see is 2 ballasts. One drives one lamp. The other drives 2 lamps. My guess is they are (or were intended to be) on 2 separate switches, so a person could select either 1 or 3 bulbs on. Look carefully at the layout of the fixture to see what I mean. I wonder where such a switch might be?

  • Newer electronic ballasts don't draw energy unless a load is present. Just in case you didn't know ;-) – Kris Jun 4 '16 at 14:07

From the looks of your fixture, I am almost 100% certain the ballasts are electronic. These newer types of ballasts can detect bad fluorescent bulbs, and will automatically stop trying to ignite the bulb, thus, not wasting energy. Older ballasts would continue to try to ignite the bulb. There is no harm in leaving the bad bulbs in place.

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