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Operation of ordinary lamps at low ambient temperatures and in loca-
tions exposed to high winds results in below-optimum, bulb-wall tempera-
tures and low lumen output per watt. However, a special lamp, designed
and manufactured with a higher vapor pressure for operation at low tem-
perature, may have quite good lumen output per watt under similar con-
ditions. Starting difficulties encountered at low temperature with pre-
heat-type lamps may be minimized by the use of a thermal switch starter.
Hours in operation. Like that of other light sources, the lumen out-
put of fluorescent lamps decreases as the hours the lamps are operated
increase. Although the exact nature of the change of the phosphor
which causes the phenomenon is not understood, it is known that at least
during the first 4,000 hours of operation the reduction in lumen output
per watt is directly related to the arc-power: phosphor-area ratio.
relationship in several typical lamps is shown in Fig. 6-39a. As would be
expected, lamps with different arc power-phosphor area ratios have differ-
ent lumen maintenance curves, as shown in Fig. 6-396.
Fluorescent lamp life and lamp starting.
Hours operation per start. The oxide cathode coating must be in good
condition to ensure proper starting at rated voltage of the preheat-starting
fluorescent lamp. However, each time a preheat-type lamp is started a
small amount of the oxide coating is consumed. A sufficient quantity of
the material may be removed in about one thousand starts to cause starting
failures. For this reason, the average life of these lamps is rated on the
basis of hours operation per start. See Tables 6-9 and 6-10.
Because the proper starting of cylindrical (cold) cathode lamps depends
primarily on a high voltage rather than on the oxide coating of the cathodes,
the life of this type of lamp is not appreciably affected by starting frequency.
Effect of
voltage and humidity on starting. To start a fluorescent lamp
requires a higher voltage than is necessary to keep the lamp in operation
once it has been started. Although all aspects of starting phenomena have
not been explained, it is believed, on the basis of one theory which fits the
available experimental data reasonably well, that capacitive current in the
lamp is a necessary prerequisite to starting of the lamps now available.
The two methods used are called preheat ("hot") starting and instant
("cold") starting. The usual sequences are:
Preheat starting: (a) A heating current is passed through the electrodes
and electrons are ejected from the electrodes by thermionic emission,
(b) Upon the application of a transient (600-1,200 volts) provided by the
ballast and timed by a manual or automatic starting switch, electrons will
flow through the tube, ionize the gases, and initiate a mercury vapor dis-
Instant starting: (a) By the application of a high open circuit voltage
(400-3,000 volts depending on the type of lamp and electrode) electrons
are ejected by field emission from the electrodes, (b) Electrons will flow
through the tube, ionize the gases, and initiate a mercury vapor discharge.
The high-voltage transient induced by rapid dissipation of the ballast
magnetic field upon separation of the contacts of the starter switches