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Old 06-16-2009, 10:54 AM   #1
 
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Default flourescent lighting question

Hi all,

Sorry for busting in on your forum, but I am at my wit's end and am hoping someone out there will be kind enough to help me. I am on the Board of Directors at a small, non-profit daycare centre and we have experienced long-term issues with our flourescent lighting. We have staff who suffer migraines and are susceptible to bright lighting, and a number of children who are over-sensitive to bright lights as well. After a long search we were finally able to find some magnetic shade covers for the light fixutures, but the fire marshall has since made us remove them.

Is it possible to get linear flourescent tubes with a lower intensity? Is it the lumens rating that would tell me this? Can anyone recommend where the best place would be to find such bulbs (we are in Ontario) or do they have to be ordered special? We rent space from the school board so we have to go through them and so far they haven't been much help - they have their standard bulbs that they provide and that's it.

I do apologize for posting here as I realize this forum is intended for professional electricians only, but I really am desperate. If there is somewhere else that I can go for advice, I would appreciate being directed there!

Thanks in advance,
Sarah
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:00 AM   #2
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Typically, normal run-of-the-mill fluorescent fixtures can only utilize one wattage of lamp.

There are dimmable ballasts available, but they can get pricey and require more than just the existing wiring. So installation is not as simple as swapping them out.

If you have 'troffer' style lights (set in 'drop' or 'suspended' ceiling grid), you may try Stratus Designs.

Curious as to why the FD doesn't like your shades.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:11 AM   #3
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I agree with 480s thoughts. You could go with dimmers but that will be expensive, as he indicated it is not as simple as just replacing the switches with dimmers.

Other options would be simply removing lamps if you have modern electronic ballasts this works fine, if you have old ballasts removing one lamp may put out other lamps.

Also if the fixtures have two ballasts each they may be able to be rewired to a second switch so you can turn on half the fixture. But again this requires an electrician and material.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:16 AM   #4
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Also assuming those troffer type are being used (the most common)...

A space designed to be a daycare center from the outset will have a slew of switches that allow the teachers to adjust which lights are on so that only those really needed at a given time get used then. Throughout the day the "pattern" of which fixtures are on will change based on the activity going on.

If this doesn't describe your center then getting aggressive with how the switches control which lights... is likely to be the best use of your resources to remedy... even if you also change out fixtures or ballasts or tubes.

The light level can be measured with a simple light meter. Get one and do some documentation.
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:24 AM   #5
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Fluorescent lamps are available in different colors. Actually different shades of white. While the brightness is essentially the same, a "warmer" color may be perceived to be less bothersome.
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:19 PM   #6
 
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This is very helpful, thanks. Unfortunately, it is rented space and the school board is very particular (and cheap) about what changes are made, so replacing with dimmers or any kind of rewiring is probably out of the question. They also won't let us remove any of the bulbs for safety reasons (welcome to my crazy, frustrating world.) They did come in with a light meter at one point and take some measurements, but nothing was ever followed up on.

There is only one light switch per room, and it turns all the lights on or off.

The fire dept did not like our shades because they were not CSA certified (despite being flame ******ant and designed for use in schools).

I will explore the Status Designs option as well as some different types of bulbs. The school board is supposed to supply the bulbs and I am not yet sure who they order through or what different bulbs might be available, I just wasn't sure what options there are out there so I know what to ask for.

Thanks very much!!! I really appreciate all your help.

Cheers,
Sarah
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JES2727 View Post
Fluorescent lamps are available in different colors. Actually different shades of white. While the brightness is essentially the same, a "warmer" color may be perceived to be less bothersome.
This is true. There are several varieties of fluorescent bulbs. "cool white" "warm white" "daylight" ect...Search the web for the different types. The wattage will remain the same, but there is a remarkable difference in the light.
I have had several situations like yours where changing bulbs did the trick. If your people have work stations, you can tailor the bulb to the persons preferences. You can remove bulbs too. Try a few different bulbs first and see how they react. You may be surprised.

I had a lady in an office building one time that complained about her work space lighting. "To bright" she said. "Not bright enough" another time. I told her I had a special bulb that she would love. I installed 4 new bulbs "warm white" and she was so happy. What she did not know was that the bulbs were identical to the ones I replaced. "warm white".
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:28 PM   #8
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An outfit called Rosco makes theatrical gels. They're sheets of high-temp plastic used in theater lighting to provide a specific color. They are designed to withstand the high extreme of theatrical lighting, so that would be a plus. Available in 48" x 25' rolls and there's an entire rainbow of colors (including grays) available. Easily cut with standard scissors, so just cut to size and place on top of the fixture's diffuser.



Check with a theatrical supply house.
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Old 06-16-2009, 01:29 PM   #9
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I've seen tinten tube covers.
Can't remember who makes them. Sorry
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Old 06-16-2009, 01:36 PM   #10
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Interesting 480. Never went that route. What kind of price you looking at with those? Have you used this before? We used colored diffusers from factory on a job and the cost jumped quite a bit for the special order.
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Old 06-16-2009, 04:01 PM   #11
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My dentist was complaining his florescent lights were irritating, (actually the office ladies were irritating him about it). I suggested Sylvania daylight deluxe. He bought them and was very happy (the staff stopped complaining). The disadvantage they cost twice as much, building management normally buy the cheapest shop light quality they can find. There is a study that productivity improved with daylight tubes verses general purpose tubes. I use the daylight incandescent bulbs at home and the seem to help in the long dark winters.
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Old 06-16-2009, 04:22 PM   #12
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Old 06-16-2009, 04:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noe View Post
Interesting 480. Never went that route. What kind of price you looking at with those? Have you used this before? We used colored diffusers from factory on a job and the cost jumped quite a bit for the special order.

I used to get 24x36" gels for a couple bucks each. Not wure what the price is these days, or how much a roll is.
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Old 06-16-2009, 06:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noe View Post
Interesting 480. Never went that route. What kind of price you looking at with those? Have you used this before? We used colored diffusers from factory on a job and the cost jumped quite a bit for the special order.

Noe,
Red Point here in Mcallen may have them. They carry all our hard to find lamps and we already have an account
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Old 06-16-2009, 07:40 PM   #15
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i have used the naturalux filters in the past for a specific project

the ones i got were a tube guard with a black matrix dot pattern inside
twisting it around the tube dimmed the light output

they were from a Co. called inspired sales in Ca. but i cant find the website

search Naturalux filters
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:08 AM   #16
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Sara,

Flourescent light blinks on/off 120 times a second, your eye trys to adjust

to this, people with 'sensetive eyes ' have complaned about getting

headaches and even dizzy due to this. IMO, there is not much you can do.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:27 AM   #17
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Electronic ballasts run at high freq.
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