I have a Wave Twin Fluorescent Ceiling Light that doesn't light up in general.
If I switch it on, it only lights up a very small part at one end.
I need to shake it or give it a hit a couple of times to light up, but it only keeps up until I switch it off again, then I need to hit it once more a couple of times for it to work for the next switch on.

Anybody knows what to do, what to change for it to work?
Before some time it worked well enough.


I noted yesterday that it functions with an electronic ballast, so it doesn't have any starters

They look exactly like this:

enter image description here

  • The technical term for this is called percussive maintenance. – Jason Hutchinson Feb 3 '16 at 16:04
  • @JasonHutchinson You helped a lot with that bro, thanks a lot! – GingerHead Feb 4 '16 at 15:06

I gather this is an expensive, quality fixture that uses dual T5 bulbs, and it has an electronic rapid start or progammed start ballast (that is to say, there's a small time delay before it comes on).

All fluorescents are discharge lights (like neon, mercury vapor, sodium and metal halide). They all work by putting high voltage between the ends of the tube, which "strikes an arc" down the length of the tube, and the arc makes the light.

These rapid or programmed start ballasts have a second trick, they also put a low voltage between the two pins on each end of the tube, which preheats filaments in the ends of the tube. That is the orange glow you see. Not every ballast does that, but these do, and those warm filaments mean the arc can strike at a lower voltage and with less wear-and-tear on the bulb.

As a bulb ages, it takes higher and higher voltage to strike the arc initially. (Also, you're getting less light out of it.) When the voltage goes so high that the ballast can't start the bulb anymore, we call the bulb "dead".

So if you look closely during the first second of startup, you should see that orange glow on BOTH ends of the bulb. If you don't, the bulb is not seated properly in its socket, or the filament is burned out. If you do, the bulb has probably reached the end of its life. The new electronic ballasts turn off the filaments once the arc has struck.

Another possibility is the ballast has burned out. That is the problem with these electronic ballasts, often made in China with RoHS lead-free solder in which the zinc crystallizes out, and capacitors which eventually fail (especially if they were made during the 2005 capacitor plague, google it).

It doesn't have starters - those are a throwback to the 1950s.

I would start by removing the bulb(s) and putting them back in. Just to see if a plug is not fully seated. Look for damaged lamp sockets while you're at it.

Most likely, it's the bulb.

If that's not it, it must be the ballast. A fixture of this quality is designed to be serviceable and replace sockets and ballasts. While you're in there, look for loose wires before ordering another ballast.

Before buying a ballast, also price LED "fluorescent tubes" which require no ballast, or replacing the whole fixture with an LED.

  • "It doesn't have starters - those are a throwback to the 1950s." How do you know this? AFAIK, if a tube glows at the end(s), it might still be OK, but the starter failed. – Jasper Feb 2 '16 at 21:00
  • @Jasper: Certainly, fittings with starters were being installed in the 2000s but I imagine they'd be hard to obtain now. I suspect Wolf is referring to the decade when these fittings started to be used, just as Wolf might say the engine in Wolf's car "is a throwback to the 1860s" ;-). – RedGrittyBrick Feb 3 '16 at 9:46
  • OK it doesn't have starters, it has an electronic ballast. You hit/shake it a couple of times the lights illuminate perfectly! when you switch it off, it will stop working, what's the cause? – GingerHead Feb 3 '16 at 11:10
  • The bulbs are 36W, do anybody know how to remove the mounted plastics on the edges, so that the bulbs would come off easily? – GingerHead Feb 3 '16 at 11:20
  • You can get starters today, but fixtures with starters are dead because magnetic ballasts are dead. As soon as they were available, anyone who maintained enough fixtures to care about TCO, spent the extra $1 on non-starter ballasts. At that point they only sold to "price motivated" shoppers and a few niches where doing it without starters would be hard. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 4 '16 at 1:08

Difficulty starting is a symptom of worn-out fluorescent tubes. They have a finite lifetime. Some might die after a couple of years regular use, some from the same batch might last ten or more years. See if the tube is slightly darker near one end.


  • Change the starter (only on older fittings), or
  • Change the tube


Replace the fitting with a LED strip.

  • Please look at my update, the lights seem all white and healthy, they light up pretty good after giving it some hits, could it be from the starters? – GingerHead Feb 2 '16 at 12:06
  • 1
    Replace the bulb. That's the easiest thing to do and if it is not the problem you will have a spare bulb for future use. – Yehuda_NYC Feb 2 '16 at 13:43
  • I have a 4 light setup and when one works, they all work (well 3 of them do, the fourth I think is genuinely dead), but when they don't, then none do. What would this indicate? There are two bulbs that glow when it doesn't work on each end. Does the startup of one bulb somehow trigger the other bulbs to light? It seems like this glowing mechanism is only on two of the lights, but I could be wrong. Thanks – Adam Plocher May 17 '18 at 7:23
  • @Adam: Some fluorescent fittings have two or four tubes share a set of control gear. If you remove one tube, the others on the same control gear will not light. If you have questions please use the "Ask Question" button. Comments are intended for suggesting improvements to an answer. – RedGrittyBrick May 17 '18 at 9:25

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