What do I do with old flourescent ballasts?

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6,573
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
That's what I do along with the bulbs.


I have never heard of that. If they are not leaking then properly disposing in your trash is no issue.

As per epa.gov:

PCB-containing ballasts become a concern if they are leaking or they will be removed and disposed of as hazardous waste. According to EPA Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regulations, the material must be incinerated. The entire lighting fixture does not need special handling and disposal as long as the ballast (electrical box) is not leaking. The non-leaking ballasts can be removed and recycled or disposed of properly.
Depends on what "disposed of properly" means. As far as I understand it, if it's not leaking, then it doesn't require any special handling like asbestos. But I found the page you got that quote from, and their links have various standards for how to dispose of them.


ballastchart.pdf


I saw Maryland in one poster's info, and apparently the state says that ballasts with PCBs should be properly recycled. This is pretty nasty stuff so I'm not sure if tossing it in the trash is a good idea. But I have a place that will take them.
 
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416
Location
CA
Disposed of properly means inside my can marked for trash. We have 3 different cans that go out every week, one is for everyday trash and solid waste that goes directly in the land fill. Our next can is for green waste. The last one for recyclables.
 

JTK

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13,525
Location
Buffalo, NY
When the garbage truck comes, the guys just fling fluorescent tubes like spears into the business end of the truck.

Or if I don't want them sitting around, I'll place fluorescent tubes in a garbage bag and smash them.

In terms of ballasts. Take them to any electronics recycling center or toss them in the trash. I've converted a dozen or so different 48" T12 fixtures to ballast bypass LED at this point. Most of the magnetic and electronic ballasts went into the electronic recycle container at work.

Ballast bypass LED tubes are getting harder to find at stores. Guess they want you to kick the can down the road and keep the old ballast in place. I've been mail-ordering ballast bypass tubes.
 

D60

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103
Location
Colo
My local scrapyard pays a bit for the ballasts provided they say "No PCB's", so they just get set aside for the next scrap run. I've never personally encountered one with PCBs, fortunately

My local (city) recycling center charges $1 per 4' and $2 per 8' bulb for disposal. (Side rant: they only accept "electronics" on Saturdays so I can only drop them one day per week. I swear such policies are solely to discourage recycling because if you can accept a flo bulb or a TV on a Saturday there's absolutely no reason you can't accept that same item on a Monday or Tuesday. RANT OFF)
 
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6,573
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Ballast bypass LED tubes are getting harder to find at stores. Guess they want you to kick the can down the road and keep the old ballast in place. I've been mail-ordering ballast bypass tubes.
I think it's a few things. LEDs really only need a fairly low voltage and it's far more efficient to create a switched-mode DC power supply operating off of AC. I do have two different types of ballast bypass tubes. One is a dimmable version that operates off of 120V AC nominal. The other type is not dimmable but rated for 100-270V AC. But either is pretty effiicient - especially without a ballast sucking up a few watts. Ballasts can be somewhat noisy too.

The other is that these direct fit tubes have to be matched with specific ballast types. They're not as flexible as regular fluorescent tubes. I think there have been a lot of problems with matching. There are supposedly some "universal" ones that are claimed to work with any ballast, but who knows how well they work in the long term? We already know of the reliability of switched-model power supplies and LEDs operating off of DC power.
 
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17,926
Location
Silicon Valley
Magnetic ballast? They're obsoleted and wasteful (you spend more money using them till they die than just throwing it out). They might be usable if you just leave them alone and then put in the "direct fit" LED to save labor on replacing all wire with the "direct wire" LED tube. Since you already cut them out nobody is going to put it back in, they are just trash now. People who had a bad magnetic ballast won't put a used magnetic ballast back, they either go with a switching ballast and stay with flourescent tube or they will just wire up direct wire LED like you did.
 
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I gave mine to a local electrician. Around here people still use them, not sure why.
Magnetic voltage converters can handle more abuse so they last longer. Switching power supply die more often due to voltage spike and back voltage, capacitor issues, etc. So maybe they keep them around to avoid come back / rework or when the customers don't want to pay for a new one.
 
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6,573
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Magnetic voltage converters can handle more abuse so they last longer. Switching power supply die more often due to voltage spike and back voltage, capacitor issues, etc. So maybe they keep them around to avoid come back / rework or when the customers don't want to pay for a new one.
I've dealt with a few in my day. It's pretty hard to find one. I know they're still being made without PCBs, but I don't think I can walk into Home Depot and get one off the shelf.

When I was dealing with a 12V power supply for a battery charger, my original one was 110-120V only and felt like a brick in my hand. I bought another kit which came with a 100-250V switching supply that was much smaller and maybe a sixth the weight. And ballasts are similar.

But these days the setups are being converted to LEDs. My ballast bypass tubes all claim about a nominal 50,000 hour service life, which is longer than I've ever gotten out of a ballast. In a property I owned I had a ballast problem with the original 27 year old magnetic ballast. After over 20 years the replacement electronic ballasts are still working. But I'd prefer to go to direct LED. Even if they do fail, it's cheaper than replacing the ballast and the tubes in the long run. They also use less electricity and provide a lot less flicker.
 
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I convert my magnetic ballast 4ft T12 in the kitchen to direct wire T12 LED, and throw away the old ballast (gave away the tubes). It used to hum and heat up the floor above (bedroom), my wife would complain if I stay up down stair with the light on (it is loud). Now with LED the wattage is half and the brightness is double, it is a no brainer of an upgrade.

The only regret is I was an early adopter, the manufacturer and reseller went out of business, and one of the 4 tubes will now flicker once in a while. It is a quality issue rather than a physics or design issue. Had I stay with a major brand and buy them now instead of 5 years ago, it would likely work a lot better and last a lot longer.
 
Messages
6,573
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
I convert my magnetic ballast 4ft T12 in the kitchen to direct wire T12 LED, and throw away the old ballast (gave away the tubes). It used to hum and heat up the floor above (bedroom), my wife would complain if I stay up down stair with the light on (it is loud). Now with LED the wattage is half and the brightness is double, it is a no brainer of an upgrade.

The only regret is I was an early adopter, the manufacturer and reseller went out of business, and one of the 4 tubes will now flicker once in a while. It is a quality issue rather than a physics or design issue. Had I stay with a major brand and buy them now instead of 5 years ago, it would likely work a lot better and last a lot longer.

I started thinking about it last year. Everything I could find was T8 sized, but of course those fit just fine in the same sockets. I put up with tubes that were obviously failing but worked reasonably well again until this year. Instead of buying new tubes, I ended up waiting for the ballast bypass tubes to arrive. That took a few days and my wife wasn't too happy about waiting. She also wasn't too happy that I pulled out all the fuses (we have an old house) just in case something bad happened like my turns on the switch. I'm just paranoid about electrocution.

I really wanted Philips Mains-Fit, which are double-ended ballast bypass, but they only come in 4 packs. I settled for Toggled since they sold as singles and pairs. They only have single-ended tubes. They're certainly not GE or Phillips, but I figure if one fails it's easy enough to replace since I've already rewired it for direct single-ended AC. And if one tube fails, they operate independently and it won't cause the other one problems like in a fluorescent pair connected to a ballast. And replacements are pretty cheap even if they don't last their claimed 25ish years.

When I fixed up a similar double pair, I took advantage of that and installed only one tube in each fixture (meant for pairs) since there was adequate light.
 
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