Author Topic: Controlling a florescent tube light  (Read 239 times)

Offline mullermn

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Controlling a florescent tube light
« on: July 28, 2017, 07:01:40 am »
Hi,

I have searched for info on this but turned up a surprising lack of results, so possibly I'm searching for the wrong things.

I would like to integrate my garage light, which is a commercial style florescent tube strip light, to my Z-Wave / Vera Lite home automation. I haven't taken anything apart to check, but this will presumably be wired in standard UK 2 wire fashion.

Can anyone tell me which type of controller would be able to operate this, please? In other places in the house I have used fibaro dimmers (dimmers because of the 2 wire configuration), but I believe I've read that a dimmer won't work with a florescent tube light.

One option I have thought of is replacing the florescent tube with an LED based replacement - happy to do that if it's part of solving the problem.

Any help/advice gratefully received!

Thanks,
Andy

Offline mullermn

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Re: Controlling a florescent tube light
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2017, 07:05:54 am »
Off topic, but having just wasted 10 minutes of my live trying to get past this  >:(:
What the heck is up with the 'What did Newton use to prove his law of gravity?' question for posting? It barely makes sense (theories are proven, not laws) and it's also completely wrong - Newton was inspired to invent his theory of gravitation by an apple, he didn't use one to prove it. And even that is believed to be a heavily embellished story.

Happy to be corrected if anyone has any sources ;)

Offline shallowearth

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Re: Controlling a florescent tube light
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2017, 03:46:17 am »
Weird questions go away after you have posted a few time.

Use a Fibaro Relay instead of a Dimmer, which is just an on/off switch and you will be fine (you can also configure the Dimmer to have a zero ramp rate so that it will instantly go from 0 to 100% if you prefers to stick with the dimmers.  You just want to make sure you don't dim it in the UI)

Offline Alex Waverley

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Re: Controlling a florescent tube light
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2017, 02:28:04 pm »
Your fluorescent fixture will have a ballast inside that lights the tubes. Unless it is an old fixture the ballast will be a high-frequency electronic type. You can switch power to the primary side of the ballast using any relay (on-off) switch that physically disconnects line voltage. If there is an existing wall switch with neutral that controls the light you can replace it with an on-off switch (never a standard dimmer, even if you don't plan to dim). If there is simply a pull chain you can use a Aeotec Micro Switch to break the line voltage inside the fixture and connect the pull switch to the dry-contact inputs on the Micro Switch. Set the Micro Switch to operate in toggle mode. This way you can automate the fixture while retaining local control and communicating the state back to the controller when toggling manually.

Some fluorescent ballasts can be dimmed using the correct dimmer and wiring system, but you should never connect any ballast to a standard dimmer or an LED/CFL dimmer.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2017, 06:34:07 pm by Alex Waverley »
Please hold your applause until I have concluded my remarks.

Offline mullermn

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Re: Controlling a florescent tube light
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 03:03:38 pm »
Thankyou for the responses.

Sadly it's 2 wire, so I don't believe a relay is an option - I've got other switches where I am using dimmers in binary 'on/off' mode for the same reason. If dimmers aren't acceptable here (which I have read in other places online too) then this particular project is possibly a non starter. Thanks for the help!

Offline integlikewhoa

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Re: Controlling a florescent tube light
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2017, 06:00:27 pm »
Thankyou for the responses.

Sadly it's 2 wire, so I don't believe a relay is an option - I've got other switches where I am using dimmers in binary 'on/off' mode for the same reason. If dimmers aren't acceptable here (which I have read in other places online too) then this particular project is possibly a non starter. Thanks for the help!

The lights must have neutral and hot. So a relay up in the light is always an option like what was stated here.

2 wire Z-wave devices are not ideal in alot of cases. Most of the big brands here all stopped making them (no z-wave plus or new versions) due to how picky they are with led or amount of lights. I get they make it easy to install for some but they way they use back feed voltage to try and power up the z-wave model was never ideal. 

Offline Alex Waverley

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Re: Controlling a florescent tube light
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2017, 12:48:16 pm »
First things first:

Always turn off power at the breaker before starting any electrical work. Turning off the switch won't do it. You can still have line voltage at the fixture (as in your case).

Always adhere to local codes.

If you are in any way unsure of what you are doing, hire an electrician.


Thankyou for the responses.

Sadly it's 2 wire, so I don't believe a relay is an option - I've got other switches where I am using dimmers in binary 'on/off' mode for the same reason. If dimmers aren't acceptable here (which I have read in other places online too) then this particular project is possibly a non starter. Thanks for the help!

The lights must have neutral and hot. So a relay up in the light is always an option like what was stated here.

2 wire Z-wave devices are not ideal in alot of cases. Most of the big brands here all stopped making them (no z-wave plus or new versions) due to how picky they are with led or amount of lights. I get they make it easy to install for some but they way they use back feed voltage to try and power up the z-wave model was never ideal.



Agreed. You will need a Zwave relay with dry-contact control input like the Aeotec Micro Switch. Put the relay in the fixture near the ballast and connect the switch to the local inputs. The switch becomes a low-voltage dry-contact control with no line voltage or neutral needed. The wall switch will toggle the light with each position change. In other words, any change of state at the switch will cause the light to change state, so the "up" position will not always mean "on" and "down" will not always mean "off".

This will only work with a simple "line/load" drops to the switch(es) where the wires can be reassigned as low-voltage inputs without disrupting the operation of other loads. This technique can be used in 3-way and 4-way circuits as well but you need to be sure you know what you are doing as there a five ways a 3-way circuit might be wired and eight ways a 4-way circuit might be wired.

An alternative is to connect the relay in the fixture but reconnect the wires to the switch to be hot and neutral. Then install a controller in the wall box and bind it to the relay (binding is better than creating a scene in this case). This way the load is automated and the "switch" appears to work as normal even though it is not directly controlling the load. I do this with pull chain ceiling lights so they can be automated, operated by a wall switch with normal "up=on/down=off" operation, and still toggled on and off by the pull chain attached to the relay input.
The advantage of this method is that the controller does not need to be on the same circuit as the load.

One last thing:

Always turn off power at the breaker before starting any electrical work. Turning off the switch won't do it. You can still have line voltage at the fixture (as in your case).

Always adhere to local codes.

If you are in any way unsure of what you are doing, hire an electrician.


(OK, three last things.)
Please hold your applause until I have concluded my remarks.