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Can anyone guide me on eliminating RFI from T8 florescent fixtures?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Michael A., Nov 20, 2020.

  1. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted

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    I recently installed a second hand stereo receiver and a pair of Polk Audio speakers in my garage/workshop. I have a single florescent 2-bulb fixture immediately above my work bench, and if that is on by itself, the receiver gets great reception and no static. The receiver is plugged into the same receptacle circuit as the florescent shop lamp. The FM antenna in use is a simple plastic strip with 2 embedded wires about a half inch apart that came with the receiver.

    If I turn on the main garage lighting, which is 8 ceiling mount fixtures with twin T8 4' bulbs, I get terrible static, which I assume is RFI. The stereo becomes so noisy, I have to turn off the lights, or the stereo if I need the lighting.

    A bit of reading tells me others have had similar results from the T8 fixtures, which are probably just contractor grade products. I don't want to install all new LED lighting or similar expensive fixes, or even to call in an electrician.

    Can anyone suggest a testing sequence to definitively determine the cause and possibly suggest measures that I could try myself to eliminate the static.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas!
     
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  2. drmmrr55

    drmmrr55 Tele-Holic

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    The only thing I can think of is trying to shield the ballasts in the light fixtures. I don't know if that would work or not though, as I've never tried it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  3. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    "the cage"
    ;)
     
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  4. KyAnne

    KyAnne Tele-Afflicted

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    You could have ONE arcing ballast transformer............or contact in one fixture....that would flat-ass do it.
    Start eliminating (among those 8). Meaning disconnect one leg of the feed to them one by one, and turning breaker off before and then back on to observe your issue. Be careful. Very. Please use gloves and turn off breaker each time. I'd leave each disconnected until I found "the one". Better yet, get a qualified electrician. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
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  5. Guitardvark

    Guitardvark Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    If you have 8 fixtures one might have created a large loop which acts as an antenna
    Ferrite cores can be placed on ballasts, power conductors, and cabling to reduce conducted EMI across the lengths of the cable

    EMI is eating your cell phone battery too searching for a signal :)
     
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  6. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    New power source. Keep separate
     
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  7. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    My 1st question is "are both items sharing an electrical circuit"?

    My main hall at work is fitted with 99 4-tube T8 ceiling fixtures, 396 tubes with dimmable ballasts (T8 requires a solid state ballast). We get zero hum through any of our installed systems.
     
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  8. Vocalion

    Vocalion TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    The problem is likely that the noise is going back through your home's wiring. Common problems are things like fluorescent lighting, dimmer switches, and refrigerators. The situation is very similar to what we experience with noise in guitar pedals and why isolated power works better than something like a daisy chain. Some audio equipment is better than others at rejecting the noise, but it's hard to figure that out without testing. At the very least, try to plug your audio into an outlet that is on a different breaker. That solution is almost free but may not be practical. Other solutions (different audio equipment that better rejects noise, power conditioners, a dedicated power line) would obviously run into some money. If you're willing to go in a completely different direction, wireless rechargeable speakers will avoid that electrical loop completely.
     
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  9. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    T8 x 4' LED replacements. Some of those state no RF interference. Downside is it sounds like you have 16 lamps to replace.
     
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  10. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Afflicted

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    I despise fluorescent bulbs and their ballasts.
    I bit the bullet and replaced all 20 bulbs in my garage with LED bulbs.
    10 4 foot double bulb fixtures.
    Got a box of 20 direct wire LED bulbs on Amazon for 163.00 cad.
    Best money I ever spent.
     
  11. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for all the great suggestions. It sounds like replacing all the bulbs with LED ones the way to go. A box of 20 bulbs is under $100, which is a modest cost and less than an electrician. I didn't realize that there are hybrid bulbs that work with the solid state ballasts in these fixtures with no wiring changes.

    Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction!
     
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  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Don't just replace old bulbs with conversion LEDs .. that will cost a fortune.

    Buy the $15 per LED shop light fixture that includes the tube lights -- the whole thing! and replace all the shop lights.

    My walk-in closet has a four florescent tube fixture that the ballast transformer went out, I had a scrapped light I pulled the ballast from that lasted as long as the original, but when the bulbs and/or ballast went out I went to price out replacements and found I could get the whole LED light fixture with bulbs cheaper than that new ballast and maybe just the florescent tubes. Because of the light fixture and not wanting to tear up and repair the ceiling, I pulled the LED system guts and put them in the old fixture. The twin tub LEDs give better light than the old four fluorescent tubes ever did.

    Got mine at Menards, I'm sure the other stores have the same thing.

    .
     
  13. Vocalion

    Vocalion TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Keep in mind that replacing the tubes does not eliminate the ballast transformers, so if the transformers are contributing to the noise, it might now go away. In that light (hehe), jvin248's suggesting to replace the fixtures might be a good one.
     
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  14. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I was told if you go to LED's you have to bypass the transformers...? I bought LED's cheap at Costco but they didnt work, so i returned them....then later was told that.
     
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  15. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted

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    I think the deal is that one has to select the "plug and play" bulbs that use the original solid state ballasts. Or you can cut the wires to the original ballasts and rewire directly, which is the bypass you suggest. But the plug-and-play will work either way.

    https://www.1000bulbs.com/category/t8-led-tube-lights/
    Scroll down for the conversion options.

    My fixtures are covered ceiling-mounted ones that are hard-wired through the drywall . I don't really want to try to install 8 replacement ballasts at the top of a ladder and figure out how to mount them into the old fixture. The conversion bulbs are only $99 for 20 at Amazon.

    This link is a correction, I posted the wrong one earlier.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BW5ADYO/?tag=tdpri-20
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2020
  16. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Afflicted

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    Quoting my own post.
    Just so there is no mistake, the bulbs I bought can be used either way.

    With the existing ballast, or wired directly to 120vac.

    I cut all the ballasts out and wired direct to the 120vac line.
    The box of bulbs came with instructions on each way to connect.
     
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  17. Michael A.

    Michael A. Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for that. I think your way is the most energy-efficient, since the ballasts themselves consume electricity. The plug-n-play bulbs allow you do to this incrementally as the ballasts fail over time.
     
  18. String Tree

    String Tree Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The newest groovy thing is to buy Ballast By-Pass T-8 LED tubes for your fixture.
    You literally wire them straight to your 120 Volt supply and take the Ballast completely out of Service.

    I have done this several times.
    It is easier than you think.
    Just remember to have the Electrcity OFF when you do it.

    -ST
     
  19. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I've got one flouro in the kitchen/lounge room... it sits right above my tube amp, I've never heard any interference from it... or the fridge/TV/PC/fans, etc....
     
  20. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Afflicted

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    .. and one more thing about my garage LED conversion...

    Night and Day difference in lighting brightness and quality!

    I got the "Daylight" color temp bulbs.

    No more noisy/buzzing ballasts that seem to fail with monotonous regularity,
    crappy floro bulbs that flicker and fail often, great light with the LED's , cheaper to run, what's not to like?

    One tiny niggle... there is about a 1 second delay from the time you flip the switch, to when the lights actually come on.
    I can live with that.
     
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