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Every guide to changing a flourescent tube light I can find has the same basic two steps: twist, usually 90 degrees, then slip the two pins out through the slot.

With this fitting,I have a fairly major problem with each step here:

  • My light fitting has no such slot
  • The bulb doesn't twist.

I've confirmed that the bulb isn't stuck (I read somewhere, possibly here though I can't find it again now, that sometimes pins get almost welded to the fitting - but at both ends it's possible to wiggle the bulb about 1mm from the fitting. It's not stuck, there appears to be simply no space for it to twist to.

Here's a couple of pictures of the fitting in question. I can't find any information about this type of fitting.

In this one, I've tried pushing the small rectangular shaped thing at the bottom where the slot would normally be, but it seems to be fixed in place, and even if it was removable, there would be no gap for the pins to fit through in the rim below it:

enter image description here

Here's the other side. Note that the circle that looks like a button in this picture is completely fixed in place, I think it's a vent:

enter image description here

These pictures aren't great (dark for obvious reasons!) - the upside-down-U shaped outer dim to the holder protrudes about 1cm along the length of the bulb, and the gap in the U is flush with the end of the bulb before the pins (so therefore doesn't provide a gap the pins could slip out). The dark line separating the holder from the main fitting in the second photo appears to be a small crack, there's nothing like a hinge or detachment here.

Both ends appear to be identical (though the other end is over a fixed fitted cabinet so is hard to see closely or photograph).


To provide a little context, I've quite recently moved into this rented appartment, which is in West Africa and has a few electrical idiosyncrasies including about half the outlets being grounded and half ungrounded, and some sockets being the wrong type of plug for this country (e.g. South African "type M"). This particular fitting looks very old, based on the lack of information I can find online I imagine it's some old fashioned standard which has long been obsolete. No clues as to manufacturer etc that I can see.

All I can think to do is completely disassemble or replace the entire fitting, which I'd rather not do.

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    Possibly spring loaded? What happens if you gently push the bulb towards either end? – Tester101 Apr 14 '16 at 13:29
  • The fixture looks unusual to me have you tried pushing the bulb towards the ends? some old single pin lamps were held in this way where 1 end was spring loaded, this may be a version of that with 2 pins on each end. the round "button" at the top of the fixture is a knock out for wiring. Let us know if you do get it out so we will be aware of this type of fixture to help others in the future. – Ed Beal Apr 14 '16 at 13:32
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    I wish all questions here were as thoroughly described. – Aloysius Defenestrate Apr 14 '16 at 14:03
  • @EdBeal I tried something like that and it worked, just posted an answer with details – user568458 Apr 14 '16 at 14:11
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Disclaimer: while this did work, and the insides look as if they're designed for something like this, I'm not sure if it was the exact correct intended approach. Follow these steps at own risk!


Based on Tester101 and Ed Beal's suggestions I tried pushing the ends. I think it was spring-loaded at both ends - by firmly but gently pushing the holder on one side, and firmly but gently holding and pushing the tube itself close to the opposite end in the other hand, I was able to get it loose.

The gap in the upside-down-U shaped rim was then just the right size to allow the (untwisted) pins to come through, which makes me think this was probably (but not definitely) the intended way. There are also what appear to be grooves for the pins.

Both sides were capable of bending backwards about 3mm-4mm with some force carefully applied (it felt like any more than this either side would crack something). This wasn't enough to free the pins on either side, but when the same force was applied to both sides at once, they could come loose on one side. This would be a much easier job with a second person - you could pull both holders apart while the second person holds and manoeuvres the bulb.

Getting the bulb in was slightly trickier, and with hindsight I'd definitely recommend having a second person help. If you do attempt it on your own, set your stool up next to the side where you're pulling the holder, then extend your arm as far as possible down the tube to push the pins in on the far side first, pushing that far side out out using the tube, so you're up close for the tricky task of getting the second pair of pins in the hole without them getting caught on the casing.


Here's what the inside of the fitting looks like with no bulb. It looks a little like a tragic weeping ghost from a Studio Ghibli film. Sad light fitting is sad:

enter image description here enter image description here


Update: due to national power shortages I couldn't test the new bulb until much later, when I did, the bulb instantly blew. Bright light at each end, then nothing. Don't yet know the cause of the problem, and it's likely it's the same as what blew the old bulb, but I thought it best to mention just in case it's something I did.

  • Glad you figured it out, and thanks for writing up such a great answer. – Tester101 Apr 14 '16 at 15:00
  • I've seen these a few times in the UK. I don't think they're made any more though. – Chris H Apr 14 '16 at 16:48
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    Bright lights at either end are the filaments lighting. Is there a small aluminum can on this fixture, usually slightly protruding from a hole in the sheet metal? If it has one, this is a starter and the contacts in the starter have fused together. The filaments are only supposed to run a short period of time to ionize gas and allow the tube to ignite, at which point the contacts open and the filaments go out leaving the lamp glowing for normal operation. The starter should be replaced every time the tubes are. – Fiasco Labs Apr 15 '16 at 4:29
  • I'm in the UK and have an almost identical light in the kitchen that has stopped lighting. Thanks for your write-up on removal. – Craig Sep 17 '18 at 19:47
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Sounds like a single-pin tube, which are spring-loaded in one direction or the other, not twist-lock like the bi-pin tubes.

Single-pin bulb end

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