I want to achive a very simple look with fluorescent lights. I want to hang a fluorescent tube from the ceiling with as little as possible. Was thinking maybe hanging them just in the cord to each end and put the ballast up in the ceiling.

Is this possible? I guess it could be quite dangerous but can it be done, and how could I do it?

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because belongs on DIY.SE – cde Nov 15 '15 at 20:32
  • Yeah, not really EE, but yes it can be done, and no, it isn't particularly dangerous. This is done for "industrial" looks all the time. – jdv Nov 15 '15 at 20:40
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    One issue is that many tubes won't start reliably without a closely placed ground. That's why some traditional fixtures don't work well if the ground isn't connected. I believe the "industrial" look fixtures put the fl. tube inside a clear plastic tube and run a wire inside the tube which is grounded (the plastic tube also protects the florescent tube glass. – DoxyLover Nov 15 '15 at 21:16

Q: Is this possible? How could I do it?

A: Certainly possible, but there are some obvious issues:

  1. The open circuit voltage for T8 instant start ballasts is up to 600v.
  2. Most ballasts require installation on a metal enclosure for heat dissipation and RF shielding.
  3. Most ballasts require fairly short wire separation distances between the ballast and the lamp (perhaps 6'-- some specialty sign ballasts will go longer distances).
  4. Most T8 fluorescent lamps supplied by an electronic ballast are electrically very noisy. Moving the lamp away from a grounded metal enclosure makes noise containment worse. In a residential environment, one might be very unhappy with the RF interference.

Have you considered an LED lookalike for the T8 fluorescent? There are units available that run directly on 120v line voltage. The initial lamp cost on these is high, but if you are building a custom piece of light fixture art, that may not be an issue. One example is model 1920WH-L (I am not endorsing this particular unit):

enter image description here

  • on a entirely different topic, could you explain or provide me with a link to why the open circuit voltage is 600V. – Kris Nov 15 '15 at 22:19
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    Wikipedia on fluorescent lamps: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_lamp Regarding high open circuit voltage, read the section halfway down titled "Electronic ballasts" (where they state the OCV may be as high as 1KV !). My brief explanation is that fluorescent tubes glow due to a controlled arc that conducts down the length of the tube. To get the arc started the tube must either be flooded with conductive ions, or very high voltage, or some combination of both are required. – user39367 Nov 15 '15 at 22:51
  • Ah ha, I was unaware the electronic ballast step up the load side frequency to 20kH as well as the higher voltages. Fascinating. – Kris Nov 15 '15 at 23:23
  • Also, most (all?) LEDs don't require a ballast. Some are even setup so that only the 2 pins on one side need to be wired which may give you more flexibility. Anyway... having a hot, glass tube with mercury in it without a housing may be possible but not really recommended and you'd have to hide the ballast somewhere. – OrganicLawnDIY Nov 15 '15 at 23:51
  • Thanks for the answer. Is there Fluorescent light without ballast? It doesn't have to be T8. – Alfred Larsson Nov 17 '15 at 16:14

The code allows you to separate fixtures from their ballasts but it usually only done with metal halides or high pressure sodium mounted in hot locations to keep the ballasts cool.

I have never seen anyone separate a fluorescent fixture.

Take a look at plain strip lights with bare bulbs and possibly paint the fixtures to match the ceiling.

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