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Grant Peacock

Best practices - fluorescent heads/ballasts

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I own a total of 15 Kino lighting systems (DIVA 400’s and 4ft 4Banks). I need to tap into any available expertise on the best way to look after these systems over the longer term.

Here’s a case in point - I just loaded up a ballast, got a nasty burning smell. I cut power and found that the wiring on 2 sockets was swapped over. A basic mistake that could have destroyed a ballast.
With this in mind, I would benefit from a working set of ‘rules of the road’ that can be followed to protect the gear for longevity. One thing I have always tried to do is only plug in ballasts once all other connections are in place (assuming that a ballast without a load connected may be damaged as it tries to fire up a tube that isn’t there). Added to that procedure is my new rule-to-self - check all the socket connections before putting any heads up on stands.
I also have one specific unresolved question - as tubes accumulate hours, is it okay to just wait for them to fail, or is there a better maintenance practice? I wonder out aloud if a tube at the point of failure is adding a lot of stress to the ballast’s output section? (ie : does the start-up impedance of a tube go up greatly as it gets older?)
I use my complete set of lights a few times per year (specific client & lighting plot) and hire around the mid-Atlantic locally, so I am working with grip/PA's with varying degrees of knowledge and established practices. I would like to boil everything down to a must-do sequence of assembly and checks along the way.
Cheers,
Grant.

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I also have one specific unresolved question - as tubes accumulate hours, is it okay to just wait for them to fail, or is there a better maintenance practice?

I'd say once they start getting dim at the ends it'd be safe to replace them. Can't be losing stops out there.

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Many rental houses run tubes until they fail or get broken. If you are swapping tubes between daylight and Tungsten on a shoot. are you going to slow the shoot down by making sure that matching tubes go back in a given head? No.

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"Here’s a case in point - I just loaded up a ballast, got a nasty burning smell. I cut power and found that the wiring on 2 sockets was swapped over. A basic mistake that could have destroyed a ballast."

 

 

I'm not sure I follow what happened here.

 

I rent out Kinos and you know how rental gear gets treated sometimes-- but I have never had a client cross a wire.

 

We had one board go out but it was a 12 year old unit. Other than that they handle rentals pretty good.

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