I have found the BEST cheap flourescent ballast/fixture - cont'd.

plant_guyFebruary 22, 2004

Just thought I'd help the thread along and continue it here. I know Zink was breathing a sigh of relief before he saw this continuation thread.

TomG. - aka Plant_Guy

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trant(z6 NY)

Overdrove m first bulb today- looks great! So much brighter than normal, as I placed a non-overdriven on side by side with ovedriven one. One question though- Do I need both power cords now that I put 2 ballasts in one housing? Can't I take apart the connection between the ballast and the power cable, and connect the second ballast on the same ower cord?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 3:33PM
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"Can't I take apart the connection between the ballast and the power cable, and connect the second ballast on the same ower cord?

By "ower cord", do you mean the rope the bank has around your neck?

Just kidding! Sure, wire the power leads together and use only one cord.

By the way, I had seen that this forum thread had maxed out at 100 posts late last night. I had told my wife that this means I can take it easy now. Then this new "cont'd" thing showed up. Thanks, Tom G.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 3:48PM
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trant(z6 NY)

Yeah my dad dropped by so I asked him about it he said there's no harm doing that so I did... the lights are so damn bright I can't look at them! It's blinding!

One thing though I dunno if I should be concerned with: the warm light- which had a distinctive red glow before, is now much more 'white'. It could perhaps be because it was right next to the other blinding 'daylight' cool white bulb though.

Thanks again for this tip- I think my plants are gonna grow quite happily- provided they wear sunglasses! :D

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 5:14PM
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sunflower71(z7 NC)

Thanks for the info, Zink! I ordered on-line from Home Depot since they didn't carry any 4 ft. electronic ballast T8 fixtures in my local store for less than 25 bucks. This is my first foray into growing under lights (and growing from seed) and your helpful and specific knowledge is really appreciated. Maybe my first foray into electronics will be next year (though I set a halogen lamp on fire once, so my husband might not agree...)

Happy and bright gardening!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 8:53PM
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tripod(z9 League City, TX)

I think we need to ask the forum's moderator to put Zink's original overdriving thread up permanently so we can refer to it as needed. Other forums sites call it a "sticky" (as in sticky note). What do the rest of you think?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 12:13AM
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gbrendemuehl(Z4 WI)

Web pages come and go. Anything that I find usefull I download ( Save as from the file menu item on the browser) and save on the harddrive.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 8:17AM
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CarlBaz(z5 MA)

Zink, Great thread! Many thanks for the info. One question tho; Would it be possible to use the Home Depot fixture with 24 inch 20Watt tubes? The fixture is 48 inches long and uses 40Watt tubes. I was thinking of cutting it to accomodate 24 inch tubes in essence overdriving the 20W tubes. Do you think this will work?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 9:09AM
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The ORIGINAL THREAD "I have found the BEST cheap
flourescent ballast/fixture" can still be found by doing a search on GOOGLE. I have copied the thread for future use....great info!
Many thanks to Zink and all that contributed.

The link below may(?)work. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Retro....Original Thread

    Bookmark   February 23, 2004 at 10:05AM
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Bonsaika(z8 CA)

Zink (et al),

Finally got the fixtures and successfully have "overdriven" them. A couple of questions though; first, I finally managed to accomplish the level of Zen wire wiggler-freer, however in the process I broke off many wires. I was disheartened at first, thinking that I had wasted a whole $7.25 on these fixtures, but then after careful examination I realized that the connector that I had broken off the wire in, was about to become obsolete anyway. The connector with the two red wires, (one red came out nicely, the other broken off about 2/8") I tossed. I simply trimmed up the red wires to equal length, plugged them into the Blue connector (the 2 "inside" plug-n-stay holes) and that was that. Then to the other end, I got the blue wire out fine, but broke off the yellow jumper, however since the Yellow main wire (plugged into the red wire side connector) was not harmed I pushed the blue wire next to the red and voila - the other end connector had the necessary blue, red, and yellow leading to the ballast. Again, I tossed the other connector. I am almost to my question, bear with me. Then I disconnected the Power (Black, White, & Green) leaving the power cord IN THE FIXTURE, (since I was simply going to wire the new "overdriven" ballast to the other fixtures (the one which would end-up with the two ballasts) power cord.) My question is this... Did I do it wrong? because, I see no need for ever learning how to wiggle wires free, or squeezing/prying the power cords out of the fixtures. I truth, I saved my fingers the pain of the twist/wiggle/pull method and on one end of the ballast, simply cut and trimmed the red wires then poked the little devils into the blue connector, then I did a similar thing on the other end; clipping the wire that had the recieving end of the yellow jumper (blue wire to my recollection), trimming it up and joining it to the red - the only exception being the other end of the little yellow jumper, which I didn't like the idea of having a small piece of inside the red/blue - yellow connector.

I got the whole process down to about 10 mins. quick and dirty with twist nuts and electrical tape. Have I missed something? I just can't seem to figure out why all the posts about the importance of removing wires or power cords when they are about to become obsolete anyway. Unless it is for the sake of adding parts to ones toolbox.

Now on to a separate note: I have decided to attempt these light conversions because, as you may have guessed, I am a Bonsai artist, however my current financial position has me in an apartment with only N-NW facing windows (pretty dark in here most of the time). My trees are starting to suffer and my need to care for them is becoming a source of frustration. I have resorted to setting them on the ledge of my balcony (which sees about 2 - 2.5 hrs of sun a day), but then the winds try to take them out. I have all but concluded that the gods are out to destory my Bonsai. So I have really been blessed by your advise and information, in fact, when I was altering my ballasts I had the Beatles song, "Here comes the Sun" playing over and over, (No, I am not a "CERTIFIED" lunatic, but perhaps my wife would argue that). Anyway, I have some Bonsai (and other plants ("Benji's", Areca Palms, Strawberries, Mosses, Dracaena's) which are partial sun adapted and I don't want to freak them out by dropping them under these new lights, so I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to design an effective diffuser for the Partial sun/shade plants that will be sitting alongside my full sun plants, (Bonsai, Cacti, etc.)?

Sorry for the length, it is just that you all have been so helpful to me that I feel gratefully chatty.

All the best!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2004 at 5:50AM
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trant(z6 NY)


Yeah I too was in the same position as you. I started off trying to pry out those wires so carefully and felt distraught when one of the wires broke off inside the plug. Later I realize those connectors are useless anyway, since I'm plugging the wires into open slots of the first two connectors. That's when I started to simply use my wire snippers to cut them as close to the plug as possible, then strip some insulation and push them into the right connector. This saved me tons of time and grief.

I figure the only reaosn people are trying to pry it out is either A) They are afraid that the wire would end up to short if they just cut it- but there's always plenty of slack... or B) They do not have the necessary tools to snip and strip the wires...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2004 at 10:02AM
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You did just fine. As long as you connected the correct wires, and made sure any stray hanging wires don't short, then should be well.

Some of us are a bit more of a perfectionist and like to have tidy, clean-looking connections, even if they can't be seen. Just make sure you don't have any chance of exposed wiring shorting against metal somewhere. I happen to like having extra leftover parts to re-use in other projects. If you have bought several shoplights to cannibalize the parts, you will have enough leftover junk to buy another ballast and create a new light.

Unfortunately, I use this technique for so many other things that I have leftovers from bicycles, computers, stereo equipments, musical amps, and on and on.

Congratulations on your results!


    Bookmark   February 25, 2004 at 2:31PM
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I read this thread and the original thread with great interest. People like you are what makes the internet such a fabulous place!

I grow miniature orchids in a wardian case with fluorescent lights. I would like to update my light setup for higher intensity, so I did some research. I can fit four 58W T8s and would like to squeeze as much plant-spectrum light as possible out of them. I found an article comparing lamps here and ordered Philips Aquarelles as they apparently have a very high plant-relevant light output per watt. Then I ordered four 2x58W electronic ballasts and endcaps, with the aim of overdriving each lamp 2x. I live in Denmark and had to order the ballasts by mail - now they arrived, and I have attempted to do the wiring, but I dont seem to succeed in overdriving - I can make the lamp light up, but I can't get more than ordinary intensity. I tried various different combinations, but no success. I fear to have ballasts that are non overdriveable, esp. as the indicated wiring seem to be similar to those non-overdriveable ballasts described by Zink in the first part of the original thread.

The ballasts are TRIDONIC PC 2/58 T8 PRO Art. No. 22 085 674 Digital Ballasts (PDF-datasheet).

The wiring diagram is:

The wiring I tried is:

(excuse my lousy graphics, which certainly aren't up to Zinks standard)

I would very much appreciate any info - should I try and short the lamp pins in the "yellow wire" end? I would think these ballasts are of the "Rapid Start" type, but that seemed to do the trick for Scott. I am a bit reluctant to experiment, though, as these ballasts were quite a lot more expensive than the ones you get in the US. Would I risk damaging ballasts or bulbs by shorting if it is inappropriate?

I would be very gratefull if Zink would take a quick look at the diagrams - I would really love to get this setup working!

Hopefully yours,


    Bookmark   February 26, 2004 at 7:25PM
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I was going to respond to your question last night, but somehow I ended up taking a strange on-line test I found. What test? Well, I was person number 1,652 to complete the Bricolator Nerd-O-Meter test. I think I may have scored well. I then went on another surfing tangent, reading about Danish family naming conventions. Finally, I got tired and went to bed, without posting your answer.

I know you wanted to be able to overdrive the TridonicAtco ballast (AN 22 085 674), but unfortunately it cannot be done. I can tell that from the wiring diagrams. The type of rapid-start ballast which allows you to parallel individual "current sources" (the overdrive) will have 3 wires going to the common "yellow-wire" side of the lamp. The 2-lamp configuration for that ballast(Figure L) shows one wire going from terminal #11 to one lamp, then a jumper wire to other lamp, and then it returns to terminal #12 on the ballast. If there had been a third wire, from the ballast to the jumper wire between the lamps, then it probably would be possible.

The only ballast I saw in the TridonicAtco PDF catalog that might be designed in an overdriveable manner was the ballast shown in Figure B. I am guessing that, in Fig B, terminals 12 and 13 (or 11 and 14) may actually have the same connection internally. That is the wiring scheme that allows the current sources for each lamp to be paralleled.

Look at the "OVERDRIVING A 2-LAMP BALLAST" diagram in the "I have found the BEST cheap fluorescent ballast/fixture" topic. The wiring configurations I have shown for the rapid-start and instant-start ballast are the only ones that will work. On the "3-wire" side of the rapid-start ballast, there are a red, a blue and a yellow wire. Some rapid-start ballasts have an extra yellow wire on that side, but they are connected internally, and are really the same wire.

The wiring colors may differ, but the wiring configurations must match. I have ruined a couple of ballasts while learning that fact. I hope you can find a ballast to match that configuration. We are lucky to have a store (Home Depot) in many of our cities which sells an inexpensive "shoplight" containing a ballast that is easily overdriveable.

By the way, your java programming was impressive. Your website performed very well. I happen to share a lot of your links, and hobbies too. I am a big fan of the CPU overdriving sites, and of the diagnostic utilities that make it easier to do. I have maximized all of my CPUs and want to learn to OD my video processors as well.

I was wondering if your job involves programming actual music software. Over the years(I am 50), I have played mandolin, violin, guitar, harmonica and some midi-keyboards. Unfortunately, even after updating to a recent version of Cakewalk software, I seem to have little time to play. Playing music is so good for the spirit.


    Bookmark   February 29, 2004 at 11:29PM
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Zink - thank you very much for taking time to look at my problem. Thank you also for your kind words - I'm glad you enjoyed the website and the nerd-o-meter. I am afraid most of the questions are quite outdated by now. When you get the time to get back to making music, I'll just point your attention to http://www.rama-archive.dk which is an free online sheet music archive that I have been involved in creating for my workplace - The Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus. Well, I guess this is off-topic, but you will find lots of interesting music there that you might enjoy playing!

Back on topic your reply confirms my fear - the wiring is the same as those ballasts that you mentioned earlier to be non-overdriveable! I should have looked into that more carefully before ordering them. Unfortunately we don't have Home Depot in Europe, and I will need 220v / 50Hz ballasts, so I guess I will have to go hunting in electrical shops etc. Now that I am aware of the wiring, I should be able to find some ballasts that work. Beyond the actual "practical" consequence of getting more light for my orchids, I love the concept of overdriving and getting the equivalent of a much more expensive lights setup by hacking relatively cheap components. Just like the CPU thing - my current CPU is a 2.4 GHz P4 clocked at 3 GHz running perfectly.

If anyone reading this has info on getting suitable ballasts for overdriving in Europe, please post.

Thanks again - Mads

    Bookmark   March 1, 2004 at 12:08PM
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DavidR(5 Oh)

This is really quite interesting to this newbie! Thanks for the reference to the earlier thread.

I don't want to use the HD shoplights or their ballasts for personal reasons (I try not to buy stuff that's made in China), but I think I can do much the same thing with any good quality electronic ballast.

One question, though. I apologize if it's a stupid one. Why not use four lamps, normally driven, instead of two lamps overdriven? Then you'd get twice the light, instead of 1.7 times as much. Bolt two fixtures together, or modify one to hold the extra lamps, depending on which is easier.

Is it because of the cost of the extra lamps? I use the cheapest 4100K T-8s, so that doesn't seem like much. I must be missing something obvious here. [shakes head]

    Bookmark   March 2, 2004 at 3:15PM
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would you be willing to build me a custom light fixture and I'll gladly pay for your part & Labor & the shipping. I just hate working with electrical and I'm sure if I do I will burn down my house.

Please contact me via my email if you would be willing to help.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2004 at 4:41PM
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trant(z6 NY)

I've gotten a wierd problem with new bulbs I bought recently on one of my overdriven ballasts. The bulbs would flicker continously when I put it in, but only with this particular bulb- the F40T12/C75 - or colortone 75. when I put a F40T12/DX (daylight deluxe) in there, it works fine. Also, as soon as I put those F40T12/C75's in another ballast (also overdirven) it no longer flickers- it's just with one of my overdriven ballasts... any ideas what I could have done wrong or what's going on?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2004 at 9:28PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"One question, though. I apologize if it's a stupid one. Why not use four lamps, normally driven, instead of two lamps overdriven? Then you'd get twice the light, instead of 1.7 times as much. Bolt two fixtures together, or modify one to hold the extra lamps, depending on which is easier."

Zink answered that same question in the original thread. You are right, four regular bulbs put out more light than two overdriven ones. For me, the primary reason for using overdriven fixtures is to get more light on my plants. You can crowd only so many fixtures over your plants and when that isn't enough, and for many plants it usually isn't enough, then overdriving is the next step for getting more light. The next step up, the expensive high-tech bulbs, costs much more.

-- Burton --

    Bookmark   March 9, 2004 at 3:51PM
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I do not know if this was mentioned or not. I have found a use for the extra reflector sections. I make the the squares where the plastic light sockets normally fit a little larger with tin snips and I install over the first reflector with the same 2 metal screws. This gives me a stiffer fixture.

At first I tried sliding the plastic light socket over the 2 reflectors, but there is not room to do this.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 9:09AM
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trant(z6 NY)

Oh so you just double up on the reflector?

Yeah I'm trying to figure out a way to use those extra parts too... Does your modification improve removing/inserting bulbs? My main gripe with these fixture is how the fixture twists when you try to install or remove a bulb making it harder to do so

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 2:17PM
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trant, yes, I feel that it stiffens the structure.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2004 at 3:32PM
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trant(z6 NY)

How do you measure the wattage of one of these fixtures?

Is there a watt meter that you can plug into a power source and then plug in a device into it to get the amount of watts it uses?

what tools/equipment would I need and where do I buy them

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 10:16AM
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trant(z6 NY)

Here's something I found funny... the sUnpark ballasts have a little chart on the sticker showing the wattage it uses when using particular bulbs. What's wierd is, 2 T12 F40 bulbs use LESS power than 2 T8 F32 bulbs! Am I seeing things?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 11:07AM
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Thank you Zinc for your posts on this site on the original thread. I have a question. You mentioned connecting the red wires with the blue wires. However, on the diagrams, it looks like the red go to the red and the blue with the blue. Also, I am a little confused because the diagrams only show one ballast and 2 bulbs for each fixture. Evidently, I am either missing something or just plain stupid. I did get the fixtures fromHD and am ready to roll. If anyone has some insight on this, please let me know. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 7:48AM
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I have been able to remove the backs off of many of the now "excess" plastic bulb holders (so far I have not broken a one). I then remove the copper contact strips. I cut off the bottom part which is the part that would be griping the inserted wires. I then inset the "modified" copper contact into one of the plastic bulb holders that I am using in the "hopped up" fixture (right over the original unmodified copper sptrip). I then replace the removed plastic back piece. This gives me a fixture which holds the bulb more firmly.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 10:03AM
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After reading this, I tried a cheap fixture from walmart (I posted an new message about it). The wiring is not the same as the home depot/sunpark ballast (e.g. there are not two sets of red and two sets of blue), but seems to be similar otherwise. Using the diagram on the ballast, I hooked it up in parallel. To my (suprise?) it did not blow up when I plugged it back in, it lit the bulb. But it's hard to tell if it's really brighter or not. I've tried looking at it a bit, and breaking it back down to the single wire (original) configuration and looking at that, and it's really hard to tell. It seems perhaps a little brighter, but barely noticeable if at all. I'm wondering if perhaps it's because the tubes I'm using are T12/40W, but the plant & aquarium?
I have no other bulbs at this time to check. I only paid around $7 for this fixture at a local walmart, and up to this time was using 2 of them (stock configuration), and 4 plant and aquarium bulbs for tree seedlings (~ 40" by 12-18" area to light).
I don't have a light meter that reads different parts of the spectrum, to really know for sure if the intensity is greater or not (where does one find a good one of those anyway?) Obviously if it's not significantly better with this fixture, I don't want to keep it like this and will change it back to the stock configuration. Just need a light meter or another bulb to be able to really tell if it works or not.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 12:53AM
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As I just posted (my original message), the walmart/GI ballast does seem to be overdriveable. I couldn't tell any real difference with the GE WS (Plant & aquarium), so I tried an old cool white (probably at least a few years old), and it most definately is brighter with the overdrive configuration than with the stock configuration.
This ballast is definately a rapid-start type, and the only difference to sunpark and others mentioned is that there is no yellow for the common--the white/neutral from the line-in is actually the common on both ends of the tube, rather than running into the ballast. I was wondering if the yellow (or whatever colour) in those others is just a pass-through for that same neutral/return.
This fixture only ~ 6.97 at the wally-mart, so comparable to the home-depot I suppose (don't know if it's as good as that one though).

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 2:06AM
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Zink, you've been very helpful, but I need to know what the appropriate ballast for overdriving 2 20W tubes to 2X is. The 20W tubes are the largest my aquarium can accomadate. Can I use the ballast you recommended anyway? The diagrams posted in the old thread have dissapeared; can you repost them?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2004 at 6:40PM
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I read the thread and went to Lowes ... they now have a $15 shoplight with an electronic ballast. It says on the box that it has an electronic ballast and will operate T8 and T12 lamps. It's made by "Lights of America" and has a stainless steel finish. And it's got a pull chain switch.

I bought one and cut it in half and rewired it to be a 2' fixture with two overdriven 20w bulbs. I just finished it and plugged it in and it is much brighter than a standard fixture. The only complaint is a little tv interference on channel two.

Zink if you are out there thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2004 at 2:25AM
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kdiller(6 - PA)

Dang! I wanted to print off the original thread, but now it appears to be gone.
Anybody have an electronic copy that you could email to me? TIA

Ken - PA

    Bookmark   November 11, 2004 at 5:27AM
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dian2(z6 pgh pa)

Same here Ken. I just read it the other day and went to print it off today and the original thread is now gone. Does anyone have a copy they can repost or e-mail to me. Much appreciated

    Bookmark   November 14, 2004 at 9:39PM
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KayLakeMan(z5 ONT)

Wow, this is some thread!
I hope someone will take the time to repost the tech stuff.
It would obviously be appreciated by many who are just getting on board.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2004 at 8:46AM
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gbrendemuehl(Z4 WI)

If you want it email me and I will email it to you.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2004 at 11:57AM
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imamensa(z7 NY)

I would like to know what all you non-electricians do about starting seedlings under lights for the spring.
I would like to start my veggies this year and am wondering what kinds of set ups gardeners are using.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2004 at 8:20PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"I would like to know what all you non-electricians do about starting seedlings under lights for the spring."

In my opinion they pay an inordinate amount of money for their fluorescent grow stands and get insufficient light despite the high cost. Overdriving your fluorescent bulbs makes them 70% brighter. For example, I purchased a 24" x 48" x 69" tall chrome wire shelving cart and hung four overdriven two-bulb shoplights over each shelf. (I adjusted the bottom shelf closer to the floor to make room for tall onions.) My eight overdriven bulbs gave me the light equivalent of about fourteen 48-inch T8 bulbs per shelf. A second set of wire shelves (Seville industrial shelving) from Sam's club measured 18" x 48" per shelf and each shelf accommodated six overdriven T8 bulbs, equivalent to ten bulbs per shelf. No commercial units can come close to that. And my total costs including the lights, shelves, timers, electric fans, and growing trays were less than one quarter what comparable sized commercial units would have cost and performed 70% better. This winter I plan to expand my indoor gardening with additional shelving units and lights.

Last winter my seedlings thrived under the brilliant light, I had no damping-off (I think because of the bright lights and the fans and the sterile Premier Pro-Mix), and I set out squash, peppers, eggplants, watermelons, tomatoes, pumpkins, and cucumbers as big stocky plants all with blooms and first settings of fruit. My onions and coleus were huge plants up to 18 inches tall. My zinnias and pansies already had their first blooms so I could arrange them by color in the flower garden. To accommodate these large plants my pots were cut from 2-liter soft drink bottles. Until I can afford a greenhouse, overdriven fluorescent fixtures are the solution for our short growing season here in Maine.

A serendipitous side effect is that fussing with the growing plants under the brilliant lights while it's a winter wonderland outside gives you a great psychological boost. And its nice to read the morning paper at breakfast by the light of those fluorescents. Psychologists and psychiatrists treat their patients with bright fluorescent lights for depression in dreary weather. I think they call it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but (grin) I doubt that their lights are as effective as my overdriven T8s. I enjoy them, as you might have guessed. It's not that difficult to rewire shoplights to make them overdriven and you are well rewarded for your effort.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2004 at 3:29AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"I would like to start my veggies this year and am wondering what kinds of set ups gardeners are using."

If you just want to purchase a commercial unit, Harris Seeds sells a 16-Try 4-Tier Light Stand with Timer. White Flower Farm offers a Indoor Light Garden, 3 tier, 4 bulbs per fixture.

MM (not associated with any vendor mentioned)

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 11:49PM
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freefour(z6a S. IL)

I would love a copy of the original thread as well. Anyone still have it? Thanks SO much. :)


    Bookmark   December 2, 2004 at 9:25AM
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KayLakeMan(z5 ONT)

First, thanks to Gary B for taking the time to send the tech info. Appreciate it.

North of the 49th parallel, the models and prices are somewhat different than available in the USA. When trying to find that particular shop light at Homey Ds, the box did say Commercial Electric Shop Light and it had almost the same UPC codes so I took a chance. It was however $15.99 Cdn., which is still less than buying an appropriate ballast separately. The ballast is a Sunpark but out of Torrence Ca. and the Model No. is 120 -2/32 IS. It is an instant start and matches the wiring diagram in the original thread examples in that there were 2 blues on one side and one red(plus hot wires) on the other.

Gave it a try and glad to say nothing blew up or melted. Seems to be brighter. I say 'seems' because the light does seem brighter in comparison to the other shop lights in the work shop, but they are older T12 lamps and I installed T8s in the new fixture. It's a qualitative assessment. It should be noted that even tho the box says to use T 12s, the ballast says OK for T8s as well.

I also checked the label and seeing that it was also suitable for 2 x17w (24") lamps, I dismantled one of those on my light stand, did some cross wiring, actually I took one set of the overdriven fixtures and just attached them to a 24 inch lamp, and compared right there on the bench....seemed brighter, and warmer.
I'll be going back for another pair of Shop Lights while they are still in stock. No similar models at the Rona or Crappy Tire. ( ya gotta be in the land of the ice and snow)

I still don't get it though. How does a lamp rated at a certain wattage all of a sudden respond to a higher throughput? A ballast is rated for many different lamps, so in effect, it doesn't appear to be the limiting factor to how bright the lamp can be. Even the ballast in my stock 24" fixture is rated for working with 2 x 17w or 2 x 34w or 2 x 40w. So if I stuck it in a 4 foot fixture, it should work providing the proper number of watts to 2 40 watt lamps when it is now allowing 2 x17s to work correctly. You would think that in that 2 foot fixture, it would already be overdriving those smaller lamps. Isn't it the lamp itself which is the limiting factor in how bright it gets and not whether the juice is coming thru a single ballast?

None-the-less, thanks again guys for a diverting (pun intended) little project.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 9:54PM
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freefour(z6a S. IL)

Just wanted to personally thank jmhewitt and gbrendemuehl for the thread.

I gave it a try and worked great! It was super easy to do. It took me 10 minutes tops. I am so impressed, I am going to upgrade all the lights in my shop.


I wanted a plant stand too for my seedlings this year but being a penny pincher, I refuse to pay $400-$800 for a cheap stand with lights. Actually to be honest, I didn't even want to spend $200. That would buy a LOT of seedlings at the local garden center. I thought about making one from 1 inch PVC, but found the best bet was getting 2 - 30 inch 5 tier shelving units at the local discount mart for like $20 a piece. Each shelf hooked with the next and made one nice solid unit. I put T8 (soon to be overdrove) shop-lights on chains on each shelf and now have tons of space to start my seedlings. Best of all I got less than $100 in the whole thing! I plan on removing the lights in the spring and using it as extra storage shelving.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 10:42AM
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has the original thread evaporated? any chance of someone posting a link to it? sounds like it was the definitive work on the subject. google directs me to this thread

    Bookmark   December 12, 2004 at 11:24AM
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freefour(z6a S. IL)

arley and all:

I spent a few minutes and uploaded the thread to geocities! Now everyone can overdrive away! Just click the link below.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 11:40AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Thanks for making the original thread available again.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 5:53PM
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thanks to zinc and all who have participated, and those who have kept this alive.

I no longer see the cheap sunpark fixture listed either at HD or at sunpark's web site catalog, and my local HD doesn't stock them.

The attraction of overdriving, of course, is more light with less bulbs, and it was neat that it could be accomplished quick 'n' dirty with fairly cheap items.

Given that it looks like those items aren't available any more, it would be nice if people knowledgable about doing this would share experiences of other combinations of cheap fixtures.

What is the difference between overdriving the tubes with a ballast per tube (as per Zink's original setup) and just biting the bullet for a new ballast with a high ballast factor? would a high ballast factor ballast give the same results (i.e. lots of light, comparable to Zink's)??

I'm looking in to driving some Philips full-spectrum tubes for an art studio/workshop. The tubes (f32t8/TL950) have a CRI of 98, equivalent to a Lumichrome at half the price. Now I know that for tomato seedlings you don't need to get that fancy, but I'd like to know how to safely boost the output for these tubes since they don't put out that many lumens--only about 1860, if I remember correctly. I thought I might get a regular 3 or 4 bulb fixture and just replace the ballast with a high output ballast. (Or maybe order the fixtures with a high output ballast would make more sense)

I realize that it will shorten the lamp life, but if I can get good light and lots of it I probably won't mind. (Emily Dickinson said something like that, albeit a bit more poetically.)

Comments are welcome from anyone who has knowledge on this.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 9:08PM
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pkn25(z10 CA)

I've looked everywhere for the overdriving wiring diagram from zink's original post. I followed the geocities link that freefour provided for the original thread (thanks freefour). However, the diagram from zink's original post isn't available for viewing. If possible, could someone please repost the diagrams or please send me the diagrams? I would appreciate very much.

Also, I have a couple of light fixtures (2 tubes 48" T8/T12) from Walmart with stainless steel finish, with only red and black wires coming out of the ballast. One side of the ballast has 2 separate red wires and 1 common black wire to the pins of the 2 tubes (1 red wire and the common black wire to each tube). The other side of the ballast has separate 2 red wires and 2 separate black wires to the pins of the tubes (1 black and 1 red for each tube). I wonder if someone knows if we can overdrive this fixture. Thanks.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 12:55AM
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First may I ask when you purchased this fixture? I haven't overdriven any ballast as of yet, but wanted to know if this fixture (and ballast) is currently being sold at Wal-Marts...Or for that matter, does the fixture have a manufacture's name? I would also like to try my hand at overdriving ballasts.

As far as overdriving your particular ballast goes, it sounds like you are describing the wiring to be similar to what zink originally posted for a rapid start ballast.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 10:56AM
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pkn25(z10 CA)


I bought 2 from Walmart about 2 months ago. They are made by Lights of America (LOA). These were the only T8 (2 tubes) fixtures that Walmart carried then. I don't have the boxes anymore, but the stamps on the fixtures say Model No. 8055; 120V 60Hz 70W .8A. There's no model number on the ballast. The fixtures have the stainless steel finish (just gray metallic paint). They cost $15 a piece.

I've used also the LOA flood lights, the FloreX 65W, 6500K, for the smaller fish tanks and they provide very good light, except that these flood lights, although guaranteed for 2 years, keep blowing electronic parts every 2 - 3 months or so. HD has sales on these flood lights constantly for $18 (original price $39). I guess they know the quality of these flood lights :-)

Anyway, back to the Walmart LOA dual T8 fixtures, the ballast is open at one end, near one end of the fixture, next to the sockets. I can see a couple of capacitors at this open end, and there are a pair of black and red wires that go to each socket. I wonder if I should pair up the red's to go to one pin and pair up the black's for the other pin of the socket on this side of the fixture.

The other side of the ballast has 2 red wires and 1 black. Each of the red's goes to one pin of each socket. The black goes to the other pin of both sockets (jumpered). I am thinking of having both the red's going to one pin, and the black stays on the other pin, and cut the jumper. Has anyone seen this light and have suggestions? Thanks.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 9:11PM
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It sounds like you are describing EXACTLY the wiring of zink's Sunpark ballast. If I understand you correctly, you should be able to overdrive the bulb rewiring the fixture the way you described. If I were in your shoes, I would have already tried overdriving them! :) let me know how it turns out...


    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 8:31AM
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pkn25(z10 CA)


I spent a few hours to overdrive the Walmart fixtures (2X). These have cheap open board ballast and it took a bit to move the second ballast to the first fixture and seal everything, with just doubled up foil paper and aquarium sealant. Now, the dual fixture has 2 overdriven T8-2X tubes. The light output is better, but not as bright as I had thought.

The empty second Walmart fixture (the one that had the ballast removed), I bought 2 Advance 4-T8 ballasts from HD and installed them in this fixture, overdriving 4X the 2 T8 tubes. Now, the light output from both fixtures (1 with 2 2X T8s, and 1 with 2 4X T8s) is quite nice. The overall brightness does reach a bit deeper down in my 50G aquarium.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 9:23PM
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freefour(z6a S. IL)


Unfortunately, the people who so graciously send me the original thread did not include the missing diagrams. I would be happy to post them to the geocities site if someone would send them to me. My local HD still carries the $7.25 stoplights, so I used the pictures to do my first one.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 3:01PM
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Careful with those "$7.25 shoplights".

My local HD sells a $7.25" shoplight, but it is a whole other beast. It is made by Lithonia lighting and does NOT have an electronic ballast. Hell, with these cheapo shoplights, you're lucky if you get an extension cord longer than a few inches!*


* - the first shoplight I bought had a little pigtail of a cord about 8" long, even though the box said "5' extension cord" on the side of it.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 3:39PM
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pkn25(z10 CA)

Thanks freefour,

I think I'm OK. Thanks for offering. I finally got around to overdrive my $15 Walmart dual T8 light by following zink's written instructions. It was a lot easier than I'd thought, thanks to zink's attention to details. Thanks a lot, guys.

I also bought 2 Advance ballasts (REL4P32SC) for $17 each and installed them in the empty Walmart fixture to overdrive 2 T8's. I figure I got about 160W for $50, including the tubes, which is not bad. Today, I bought a couple more of the same Advance ballasts and plan to drive 2 96W compact fluorescent lights. I plan to use alligator clips first to test it out before purchasing the additional and pricey CF sockets. These lights carries very high voltage, so I guess utmost care is called for :-). I'll let you know how it works out. I found the instructions for CF wiring on http://www.aquarium-lighting-guide.com/directory/wiring_diagrams.php

By the way, none of the HD or Lowes in Southern California carry the cheap Commercial Electric lights. They only have the cheap Lithonia and they have magnetic ballasts for T12. I guess the $15 Walmart LOA light is better than nothing, if you don't want to purchase the Advance ballasts and build from scratch. I'm not sure though how long the LOA cheap ballasts (open plastic housing, and not the heavy metal casing) would last. I've had them for 2 - 3 months on top of an open aquarium and haven't had any problems. I'll let you know if and when they fail. The FloreX 65W LOA flood lights fail every 2 - 3 months. For $18, on sale at HD, they are not bad, but I'd probably overdrive a couple of 17W T5 with the 2 32WT8 ballast the next time the flood lights fail.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2005 at 9:07PM
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Hi Everyone,

It's great that the Overdrive advice has worked out so well for those who had the nerve to try it.

I was also surprised that Peter(pkn25) figured out how the Walmart fixture could be OD'ed. I was going to write and advise against trying that one, Peter, but I came down with sinusitis. Before I knew it, it was too late. You already did it.

Now here's the good news:

The missing diagrams everyone has been requesting can be retrieved, or viewed, from this page:
To download, just right click on the image and select "Save Picture As", to save it on your hard drive.

I am sorry about the disappearance, but changes to my ISP service rendered them... well, ... missing.

Some of you had wondered if overdriving is similar to having a high ballast factor. This is absolutely correct. Most ballast manufacturers do produce a line of ballasts with a high BF, which pushes more current through the tube than a standard ballast. Unfortunately, they also are more expensive, sometimes REAL expensive.

These 'High BF' ballasts are brighter, but are also causing the lamps to work a bit less efficiently. Still, they are economical enough to meet the new government mandates for lighting efficiency.

What we are doing by overdriving is increasing the BF even more. This may not be the way to light an office or house, but for specialized purposes, this is a great way to get the type of lighting intensity we need.

Just to re-clarify the resulting effects of overdriving by 2x:
a) The current will increase by about 70%. Since the load is now shared by TWO ballasts, each ballast is getting a 15% load reduction. (2x.15)+1.70=2.00

b) The lamps will NOT be 70% brighter. It is more like 50% brighter. This is due to the reduced efficiency of overdriving. Fortunately, this is much less expensive than alternatives... and works so nicely too!

By the way, I spent many fun years building, and redesigning, all kinds of electronic toys - mostly musical effects. I designed all of the power supplies for the projects myself. So when I first stumbled across the overdriving effect, I had an idea of what they were doing. I had no problem understanding that the properly designed ballast could easily do this... without damaging the ballast or lamp.

One last item. Take the lens covers off of the Fluorex lights. They will burn cooler and last longer.

Another last item. People think flourescent lamps are SOOO much cooler that HIDS. If given the same lumen/watt ratio AND light output, the wasted watts will be converted into the SAME amount of heat, somewhere in the system. Fire up a 125watt CFL, wait ten minutes, they grab hold of it. On second thought, don't grab it. It'll burn.

An even laster last item. On that OD page I gave I included a cartoon I happened to have on my ISP's server. Enjoy.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 2:19AM
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Zink, thanks for offering your diagrams again, but the link doesn't seem to work for me. I get the dreaded "Page Cannot Be Displayed." :) I tried right click and save as to no avail also. Is anyone else having problems d/l the diagrams?

Thanks again for being so gracious to offer all your insight on ODNO. I stumbled on to this site doing my own research on ODNO. I am going to attempt to garden under lights this winter/spring and had been doing lots of research on proper lighting for gardening. I knew several people who were overdriving their guitar amplifiers. I wondered if the same thing could be done to light fixtures to produce more light. So, I typed in 'overdrive light fixtures' in a search engine and this site came up in the search, so away we go! I was glad to find that not only were other people doing this, but they had done most of the background work! woohoo! Again, thanks to everyone who has contributed to this ODNO thread.

Peter, great to hear you got those cheap Wal-mart fixtures overdriven! I am planning on trying my hand at overdriving lights real soon.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 8:22AM
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pkn25(z10 CA)

Thanks zink,

You got me a little worried. You said that you were going to advise agaisnt OD the Walmart fixture, but didn't elaborate. I just wonder if it's unsafe to have this fixture OD'ed. Thanks a lot for your input.

Also, I have a CFL question and hope that you know. I have a straight 4 pin lamp and a square 4 pin lamp. Is there a pin to pin map of the pinouts for the 2? Is there any significance in connect which wire to which pin? As in the case of OD'ing the T8 (Instant start), there seems to be no significance. Thanks again zink.

Oh, and I have no problem opening the diagram that you attached. Thanks.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2005 at 12:39PM
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hmmm, well, now i don't have a problem opening it either.
: /
anyway, thanks, zink!


    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 2:03PM
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"Just to re-clarify the resulting effects of overdriving by 2x:
a) The current will increase by about 70%. Since the load is now shared by TWO ballasts, each ballast is getting a 15% load reduction. (2x.15)+1.70=2.00"

The above statement from my previous post should have said TWO circuits, not TWO ballasts. The 2-lamp ballast contains 2 separate lamp-driving circuits. These circuits share the load, each working about 15% less than normal, when overdriving ONE lamp.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2005 at 3:58PM
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carolxi(z6 Toronto ON)

My friends (1 bushman and 1 muscian) put up this flourescent grow station. Is this what you call over drive? They are my old kitchen fixtures, which I finally replaced. Please let me know if this will work. PS: temp is about 70F Thx so much, Carolxi

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 12:39PM
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Carol, did they just hang them, or did they modify them somehow?

Overdriving, as explained above, is when you take a normal 2-bulb fixture, which normally contains ONE ballast for TWO bulbs and insert a SECOND ballast. You now have TWO ballasts driving TWO lights.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 1:44PM
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carolxi(z6 Toronto ON)

They did not add a ballast. Each of the 2 fixtures has one ballast each, allowing for 4 flourescent lights.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 3:42PM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

Can someone comment on overdriving 4-bulb fixtures? 4 ballasts or a pair of 4-bulb ballasts? I already bought a couple $6.38 H-D lights w/SL15's.

Also, what about ballast factor? I'm using a Floralight Hi-Intensity model (4-bulb) and not sure of ballast factor vs overdriving. Thanks.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 6:23PM
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Drew_N_Corinn(Utah 6B)

OK, I have been looking all over the place... Where is a diagram for doing this? I cannot even find the preceeding forum???


    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 12:32AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Zink posted a link to the diagrams in his message here in this thread back on January 13. Scroll back up to there to click on the link.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 2:30PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Freefour posted a link to a copy of the original thread in his message posted Dec 13, 04 at 11:40. Scroll back up there and click on the link to read the first 100 messages of the thread. Lots of interesting stuff there.

Incidentally, now that Home Depot is selling the Commercial Electric 140-904 shoplights at a sale price, this is a good opportunity to stock up for some serious overdriving. Some people have speculated that Home Depot is clearing them out.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2005 at 2:46PM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

Try this link.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 1:17AM
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kes_cor(Z5 Chicago, IL)

So, how are they working for you?

I performed the overdrive technique on one of my fluorescent fixtures and put my sun loving jasmine plants underneath them. They hardly moved all winter long, in fact it appeared they became petrified, the leaves became very yellow. I finally got them outside, cut them back a little and they are returning to normal. So, I didn't try any other plants under them as I wasn't sure if it was going to work well.

How often do we need to replace the bulbs? How long do you run the lights per day?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 8:44AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"So, how are they working for you?"

Quite well. I set out a lot of very advanced seedlings this year, thanks to overdriven T8s. My pepper plants actually had pickable peppers on them. My onion plants were larger than any adult plants I had previously grown (and in the garden now they are larger still). My zinnia plants were in full bloom under the overdriven lights. Eggplants and squash had buds. Here in Maine we have a short growing season, and overdriven fluorescent lights are a valuable help in getting a big headstart on the season. With overdriven lights I can start gardening in December or January. The last of May is our usual "safe" no frost time.

"They hardly moved all winter long, in fact it appeared they became petrified, the leaves became very yellow. I finally got them outside, cut them back a little and they are returning to normal. So, I didn't try any other plants under them as I wasn't sure if it was going to work well."

We would need some more specific information to know why your overdriven fixture was such a disappointment. For one thing, what make and model of fixture was it? What bulbs were you using? What sort of pot and growing medium were used? When you moved them outside, did you remove them from the pot and plant them in the ground?

You also mentioned using only one overdriven fixture. My plant stands have four two-bulb fixtures per shelf. When you use only one fixture, the plant leaves "see" a lot of un-illuminated space and a relatively smaller illuminated space. When they have a "ceiling" of eight overdriven T8 bulbs over them, they "see" a lot more illuminated space.

"How often do we need to replace the bulbs? How long do you run the lights per day?"

This is my second year of overdriven gardening and I haven't replaced a bulb yet. I usually run my lights 16 hours per day, although for some plants I might vary that some.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 9:38PM
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kes_cor(Z5 Chicago, IL)

I've changed my bulbs to glow-lux and they are running great now. To answer the questions, on my 4' x 2' shelf I have two fixtures, one overdriven and one ordinary fixture. It seems to be working ok.

I am having some problems with the bulbs going out. It seems that it I turn a bulb a little bit, both bulbs will go out. I don't understand why this would occur since each bulb is being run by individual ballasts. The only way to get the bulbs back on is to unplug the fixture, adjust the bulbs until I see a flash of light (even though it is unplugged) and turn it back on.

Is this normal?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 8:44AM
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lightmaster(z8 Salem, Ore.)

Ya may want to check your wiring to make sure they aren't connected together somehow. It could be that the surge is great enough that it affects the other ballast...

Try this:

Take one bulb out while unplugged and plug it in...if it doesn't light or lights and dies with a bright flash at the end...you have crossed a wire somewhere...


    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 11:24PM
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kes_cor(Z5 Chicago, IL)

I need to take the fixture apart. One light won't light anymore. Also, I'm noticing some current on the housing of the fixture. Not sure why...

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 9:00PM
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I tried overdriving with GE Ultramax ballasts and they do not work. Do not light up properly. another GE electronic ballast also did not work. The Sunpark SL 15 works really well. The bulbs get bright and fairly warm even close to hot but no quite. The ballast produces almost no heat. The Sunpark is rated for F40 T12 bulbs and so I may try it on Growlux bulbs which are not available in T8. This will be better in my living room as I do not want blazing T 8s in there. The growlux produces red and blue and appears dim to humans but the plant sees it as bright.
Seed nut

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 11:03PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

You can get Grolux T8.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2005 at 10:40AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"Also, I'm noticing some current on the housing of the fixture."

You really don't want current leakage to the fixture's housing. That could be a safety hazard, for both shock and fire. You should definitely take your fixture apart and check and verify the wiring. Make sure that no bare wire can touch anything. Also, you should check your house wiring to make sure that its third wire is actually grounded.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 9:36AM
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asparagusfinger(zone 9)

I would like to know some more about the procedcure of "overdriving". I have a multitude of fluor/fixtures and could use the info to what I believe is a method of increasing the light output. Any info greatly appreciated. Also can someone give me a copy of zink's thread with the wiring diagram or how to find it. Thanks

    Bookmark   December 3, 2005 at 7:21PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Back on Mon, Dec 13, 04 at 11:40 in this message thread, Freefour posted a link to a copy of the original message thread which documented all the details of "overdriving". There are 100 messages in that thread and the information you need is spread over several of them. It will take you a while to read all of the information.

It took me maybe two hours to overdrive my first fixture because I was having to learn some electrical techniques in the process. It now takes me about 30 minutes because I have had a lot of practice overdriving several dozen fixtures. I still take the time to make good insulated connections and I seal the holes in the fixture to make it more waterproof.

Incidentally, it is my understanding that the original Home Depot model 140-904 Commercial Electric Shoplight fixtures have been unavailable for quite some time, but they have been superseded by a similar model 732-334 fixture, which also contains the same overdriveable Sunpark SL-15 electronic ballast.

I actually consider the new 732-334 fixtures to be preferable to the old 140-904 fixtures because the new fixture is narrower. I could get four 140-904 fixtures over a 24"x48" shelf, while I can get five of the new fixtures over a 24"x48" shelf, which gives 25% more light on the plants as compared to the old overdriven fixtures.

Since overdriving gives 50% more light per bulb, the ten bulbs in five overdriven 732-334 fixtures over a shelf is the equivalent of 15 T8 bulbs per shelf. That is much superior to commercial plant stands, which provide only four bulbs per shelf.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2005 at 11:27AM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

Zink wrote:

> ...an Advance REL-2S110 ballast, which was not really overdriveable.
> It is designed to operate 2-T12/HO lamps, from size F48/60w to
> F96/110w. I was able to wire it to drive 3 or 4 bulbs, both F48/60w
> and F32s. They lit up, but only the F32s were using a little more
> current than normal, and were a little brighter than normal.

If you connected two bulbs, two F32T8 or 2 F40T12, to the ballast, would each bulb draw about 50-55W (a mild overdrive)? Ie., trick the ballast into driving normal output bulbs as if T12HO bulbs were connected to it. Why did you connect 3-4 bulbs; wouldn't that slightly underdrive each one? Would this ballast drive two F54T5HO bulbs (or T6 "pseudo T5" HO bulbs) near normal output?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 7:05AM
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shaolin76(z9a Houston)

Can anyone email the wiring diagram please?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 5:31AM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

I could e-mail a pdf attachment if you can't go to the following link

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 4:54PM
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Im gonna to try to take the time to test those combos, and more, and report to you here the real-world results. The nature of fluorescent electronics makes it difficult to guess what happens when combining lamps of different designs and operating them in possibly power-enhanced modes. There is a technical design difference between T8s, T12s, T5s, and HOs that makes predicting current draw and light output very difficult. I am going to set up several ballasts (both magnetic AND electronic), wire them in both NO and OD2x mode (electronic ones only), and then proceed to fire up every combination of every lamp I can find (and Ive got a lot) and then measure the current draw and light output for each combo.

Two day ago, at work, I found a spreadsheet I had made a year ago, when I had tested many ballasts, and many lamps, and I had noted the measurements in Excel. I would like to do a better, more comprehensive set of tests and present the data here to help with some of the details people are wondering about.

I am going to take measurements of lamp/ballast combos which have been set up in unconventional manners such as arranging smaller lamps in series to simulate a larger lamp. I found that a good enough ballast which is capable of driving an wide assortment of lamps, and can possibly be overdriven, can also be arranged successfully with smaller-sized lamps in series. You will be surprised at some of the results.

I did just find several paragraphs I had written and never posted. It were intended to be a basic explanation of ballast differences and lamp differences so as to give a good clear picture of what is going on between them.

I know you surely know most of this, but for the rest of the folks Here it is:

Originally, there were only T12's, with a few oddball T9,8,5,4,2's on the market. They all ran on heavy magnetic, or tranformer ballasts. Ballasts were designed for each different wattage range of T12s, each having with no tolerance for driving anything but the tube it was designed for. All of the normal T12's (excluding HO and VHO lamps) were designed to operate at a current of 430mA, which the magnetic ballasts were designed to deliver.

The first T8s that were manufactured began as 430mA designs, but T8s were eventually re-engineered and now operate universally at 265mA. This is why T8 lamps are not compatible with magnetic ballasts. Although there are a few magnetic ballasts designed for some series of T8 lamps, most of the T8 lamps are being driven from a myriad of electronic designs.

Electronic ballasts, besides being more efficient, are LOT more versatile, and tolerant of different lamp lengths and wattages the ballasts design range being the limiting factor. Some electronic T8 ballasts for 32w bulbs also claim to drive 40w lamps, along with a small range of lamps. I am currently using 40w bulbs in an electronic 32w fixture, and the light is great. Since better electronic ballasts are being made for 32w lamps, companies have also created 40w electronic ballasts which are also readily available.

Overall, more recently engineered T8 lamps are probably the better, more versatile lamp to invest in. But, there are also some perfectly good, recently re-engineered, T12 lamps available. The Philips "Home Light" series sold at Home Depot are very good lamps with a fairly high output.

I will be back, hopefully soon, with measured data.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2006 at 12:49AM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

Since I inquired about the REL-2S110, I finally did drive to Home Depot and got several REL-4P32 to overdrive each bulb of a 2 bulb T8 fixture. Thanks to your web page, I was able to do it!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2006 at 1:01AM
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Many thanks to all. I start tomatos indoors and after stumbling acoss this tread, was able to od the lights that I already had, and am very pleased with the results.Went to buy two more fixtures to fill in the gaps - (commertial ele.#732 334) and found that the SL-15 ballasts had not one, but two yellow wires. Anyone familiar with this configuration? I didn't remember referece to anything above. Again, many thanks, geol.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2006 at 3:42PM
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angelstiger(z5 NH)

Thank You Maineman, for mentioning this thread in the veggy forum. Very interesting.

It seems as if the original thread is no longer available. By the sounds of this thread, there was a lot of good info in the first one. I am going to try to OD my lights. Hope I don't electrocute myself, LOL. I have had some experience with residential wiring, so I am not completely lost. My question that parusing hasn't answered is:

Do I use the same bulbs as in the original unit? Or do I need to purchase higher wattage bulbs?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 1:23AM
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angelstiger, I just rewired my old fixtures with the original tubes (a mix of 32W-T8's a couple yrs old), and they are working fine-just brighter.These were among the tubes listed on the ballast, although I have gotten the impression that other combinations are possible as well. A link to the original is located halfway up this thread, posted by freefour Dec 13. Good luck, geol.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 3:09AM
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angelstiger(z5 NH)

Thanks geol. I guess I clicked on a couple of empty links nad missed that one. I am looking forward to this. It's going to be fun. I will report back, if I am still alive, LOL.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 2:55PM
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angelstiger(z5 NH)

On the link to zinks diagram the 2 lamp ballast diagram is missing only the 4 lamp ballast shows up. does anyone have the 2 lamp ballast diagram they can send me. Or zink is it temporarily missing?

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 3:43PM
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Sorry! I was messing around with an FTP software, while recovering from surgery, and moved that diagram to a new folder while trying something out.

I will put the 2-lamp diagram back tonight, after I get home from work.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 4:46PM
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shaolin76(z9a Houston)

Thanks angelstiger and zink.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2006 at 1:39AM
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dagivens(z7 AL)


I found some new strip fixtures for T8,17W lamps at a local salvage store at a bargain. The included ballast is a Sylvania Quicktronic QTR2x32 T8/120 ISN-SC with two blue and on red wire. The fixture was originally wired with the red going to one end of the lamp and one blue going to the other. The remaining blue wire was unused. I rewired it for overdrive by attaching the unused blue wire to the same end of the lamp alongside the original blue connection. The curious thing is the overdriven lamp doesn't appear brighter than an identical lamp in an unmodified fixture in a side by side comparison. I'm baffled since I've successfully overdriven lamps using the Sunpak SL-15 ballast in the HomeDepot fixtures in the past.

Any thoughts on what's going on here? Did I completely miss the boat? Thanks for your and any other's constructive comments.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 3:10PM
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I could not find that exact part number:
QTR2x32 T8/120 ISN-SC

Normally, as SYLVANIA ballasts go:
QT = Quicktronik
P = Professional (You had an R)
2x32 = Dual 32w
T8 = T8
120 = 120v
IS = Instant Start
N = Normal Ballast Factor
SC = Small Case

I do have a guess, however. What would you do with a dual-lamp ballast, which came off of the production line, with only one side working?

My answer >>> Put it in a cheap single-lamp fixture.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 7:58PM
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"Went to buy two more fixtures to fill in the gaps - (commertial ele.#732 334) and found that the SL-15 ballasts had not one, but two yellow wires."

I found this to be the case as well with newly purchased fixtures from Home Depot. The ballasts can still be set up for overdriving, leaving you with two unused yellow wires.

Any comments about leaving these out of the setup (with ends taped over)?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 8:36AM
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dagivens(z7 AL)


You've got a point! Maybe that's why they were in the salvage store, ha ha. Thanks and keep up your good work.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 11:16AM
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"Went to buy two more fixtures to fill in the gaps - (commertial ele.#732 334) and found that the SL-15 ballasts had not one, but two yellow wires."

"I found this to be the case as well with newly purchased fixtures from Home Depot. The ballasts can still be set up for overdriving, leaving you with two unused yellow wires."

have you tried this yet?
my thoughs were - do I need only one or both yellow wires to complete the circuit? - but havn't tried this yet.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 8:40AM
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dagivens(z7 AL)


The mystery deepens! I experimented further with my T8,17W rewired fixture by alternatly connecting each blue wire in turn to the same end of the lamp. Each time the lamp lit, so the circuitry for each blue wire appears to be working.

The red/blue/blue wire, 2 lamp hook-up diagram on these ballast shows the red wire connected, as a common, to the end of the two lamps and the blue wires individually connected to the other lamp ends.

The fixture manufacturer's single lamp wiring of this fixture used the red and one blue wire with the other blue taped off.

I also searched Sylvania's literature for this ballast and came up empty.

Have you successfully overdriven any T8, 17watt lamps?


    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 8:46AM
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dagivens(z7 AL)


I found a datasheet for the QTR2x32.. ballast here:


I've not done this before so I hope it comes thru.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 9:18PM
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I could not open the link. I tried to reach the site in other ways - with no success. I don't have a clue what could be happening with that ballast. My searches have still turned up nothing beginning with "QTR".

As far as the SL-15 ballast having 2 yellow wires now, I would imagine that to OD2x, you simply run one wire to one yellow to one side of the socket, and the other yellow wire to the other side. That is the way similar overdriveable ballasts are. But I won't advise that until try it myself.

Has anyone else already done this with the "2 yellow wire" version? I notice that the Sunpark website has that as the new standard color configuration for the SL-15.

By the way, I found a website which seeme to sell nothing but Sunpark ballasts - and at a really good price. I know nothing about the integrity of the sellers, however.

The site is www.novelight.com.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 8:58PM
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dagivens(z7 AL)


Don't know why that first QTR link doesn't work now. But I have another to try. If this doesn't work, I'm giving up!

I do know that the QTP is the professional series and the QTR is the residential series. But, I don't see any obvious difference between them that would explain the behavior I'm seeing. Thanks.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:17PM
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I am in the UK and cannot find these SL15 ballasts. Anyone care to send me some and I can pay thru paypal please ?
I would like about four of them.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 5:31PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


You might be able to purchase them directly from the SunPark Online Store. The SL15T may be the ballast that you want. I think that they are priced at $6.50 each. I am not sure what that would be in British pounds.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 10:32AM
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bobb_2002(Z6 S.W. CT)

You probably can't find SL15 in the UK because they are 115v input and you probably need 230/250 volt ballasts.

Bob B

    Bookmark   September 17, 2006 at 9:22PM
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Does the original thread still exist?

Good day,

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 12:37PM
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    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 8:53PM
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I have about $150 to spend on a seed lighting project.

My seeds still hasn't gotten here (slow mail, and my own procrastination), so i need to catch up... what do you think are the best cost effective fixtures/ballasts, for the most power?

Better to get longer tubes? More tubes? Fewer but better quality? More and lower quality?

Are there brands that get better over driving results?

I am going to be jump starting a 100 or more seedlings so
I'm trying to figure what will give me the most bang, I need these seeds in the ground quick so what will give the best effects?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 2:02PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"I'm trying to figure what will give me the most bang..."

I think Home Depot's Commercial Electric shoplights at about $8 per fixture are hard to beat. They will accept either T8 or T12 fluorescents. Home Depot also sells Philips T8 fluorescent tube in 10 packs for competitive prices. The 4100°K bulbs cost about $19.95 a pack, but the 5000° K bulbs and 6500°K bulbs don't cost a whole lot more and give whiter light. I currently have a variety of Philips bulbs in use, ranging from 3000°K, 3500°K, 4100°K, 5000°K and 6500°K and the 6500°K bulbs look by far the brightest and whitest. They are also cost more than the others, although not excessively so.

You will also want a three-wire timer and Home Depot has them for about $10.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 3:32AM
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So i bought two of these:


(though the store boxes did not indicate t8 compatability, even though the online model does and the model numbers match...)

and i'm wondering how do i rewire it properly?

This first picture is how it comes wired out of the box ( I didn't have it right in front of me but i'm pretty sure i remembered it right)


I took the ballast of of the second one I bought and i'm wondering exactly how to wire it, as i'm confused as most of the diagrams floating around mention 2 and 3 wires going to the sockets as opposed to dealing with 4 on either side.

The coloring is off, there are no blue wires... there is a yellow wire with a bluish green stripe however

The second picture:


Outlines what i'm guessing is the right way... however i'm also not understanding which wire goes into which port of the socket as indicated in figures lower case a through lowercase d...

Also i want to make sure i'm supposed to keep the different ballast wores sets totally independant of one another, or do i put some yellow from ballast 1 with red from ballast 2 to the same socket, or some other color combo?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 3:46AM
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first note: ive never tried overdriving anything (with the
exception of a short test of putting standard bulbs on a
VHO ballast)

second note: i can't see your pic's since they are on
flickr (i blocked that site due to "spam" ie: web-page ads)

I think i know the Home Depot shoplight you are talking
about... Its not the same thing as mentioned in this
thread. Not too long ago my brother got one of these for
his basement (as a normal light) when putting up i noticed
its different from the 'older' style - there's a different
ballast and now they're for T12 bulbs only! If i remember
correctly there was 4 'bulb wires' from each side of the
ballast (2 red, 2 yellow i believe)

(even tho the ballast says 'T12 bulbs' i wouldn't be
surprised if T8's would work...weather its overdriveable
i don't know (i'll be safe and say no) maybe someone else
here can say for sure?)

One thing: definitely keep each ballast's wires totally
separate from one another (except of course the black &

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 7:14AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Your Home Depot URL did not work for me. Perhaps it is one of those URL connections that has a time limit and simply "expires". Their website lists the Commercial Electric 4 Ft. Shop Light With Electronic Ballast, Model HBSL-16, $8.53/Each, with this description:

Energy Star rated, this fluorescent shop light with instant-on electronic ballast provides long lasting bright light while maintaining its energy efficiency. Made of high-quality steel, this shop light is perfect for use as a work light in your basements, work areas, laundry rooms, recreational areas or attics where a bright natural light is desired.

Energy Star approved
Extra long 5 Ft. power cord
Instant-on high power factor electronic ballast
High-quality steel construction
Uses 2-48 In. 32 watt T8 or T12 fluorescent tubes (not included)
Chain included and fully assembled
Dimensions: 48 In.L x 7 In.W x 2-5/8 In.H
MFG Brand Name : Commercial Electric
MFG Model # : HBSL-16
MFG Part # : HBSL-16

I know this is an overdriving thread, but to raise seedlings you don't really need to overdrive your fixtures. Overdriving becomes an issue when you attempt to raise the seedlings to a much larger, more mature form. For example I have raised tomato seedings to the blooming stage before setting them out and some of my pepper plants actually had pick-able peppers on them while still under overdriven fluorescents.

The last Commercial Electric ShopLights that I purchased from Home Depot were Model No. 732-334 and, like the original Model No. 140-904 shoplights that this thread started with, are equipped with SunPark SL-15 electronic ballasts, which are overdriveable.

Incidentally, those electronic ballasts are vulnerable to damage from voltage spikes and it is a good idea to connect your shoplights to an inexpensive (HD has several models under $10) surge suppressor. The surge suppressor will give you a convenient surge-protected on-off switch. My surge suppressors are connected to my timer.

It is also a bad idea to plug a commercial shoplight directly into a live outlet, because the act of inserting the plug can cause voltage spikes, particularly if the prongs don't go in evenly. I learned that by killing a fixture. It didn't hurt the bulbs, but it fried the ballast.

But, like I said, you can skip the overdriving for the time being, hang your fluorescents and plant your seeds under them to get them ready for setting them out in the garden.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 1:09PM
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Xmaslightguy is correct,The Commercial Electric shoplights at HD have changed. A few of the older models may still be available. The boxes look almost the same-except for the the notation about T-12 bulbs only. Nevertheless, I did try overdriving the newer model (using my experience with and following the directions posted in this thread). The lights worked and to my eyes seem just as bright as the overdriven older models right next to them. I'm using T-8 bulbs in both the overdriven older and newer models. I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:27PM
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U can see my overdriven bank on flickr. A 6x4 foot garden illuminated with 22 overdriven T8's. The fixture with reflector is 6 1/2" wide, and I line the reflector with mylar, held down with carpet tape, for more efficiency. U can also see the rose cuttings I raised over the winter in that indoor garden, now outside on my back deck.
Paul Mozarowski.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:47PM
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So I wired it so that the 2 reds and 2 yellows from the right side of ballest one into one socket and the other 4 yellow and red wires from the left side of the ballast, in the another singles socket and then i did the same to the second ballast and the remaining two sockets... i followed the diagram i posted (here it is again: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25777429@N07/2422109873/in/photostream/
ignore the figures on the bottome apparently the oder you put wires into the the sockets doesn't matter??)

it works, nothing blew up and that light is on... however i'm not sure if its any brighter what makes me think i did something wrong... please look at the diagram and see if this is what your supposed to do to overdrive the new shop light models correctly...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 1:32PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


You should see a definite increase in brightness, and the bulbs should feel noticeably warmer to the touch.

From your diagram, it appears that your two ballasts do not have independent connections to line current. Zink's diagrams show each ballast with its own black and white wire, and I wire mine that way by tying the power leads from each ballast together (with a zip nut or crimp connector) with the corresponding line current lead. I also connect each groundwire lead to the same screw attachment on the fixture frame. The ballasts can share the ground and they can share the attachments to line voltage. But nothing else with each other.

It looks to me like you need to change your line present wiring. Each ballast should be independent of the other in the wiring diagram, except for their shared connections to line current wires and a shared connection to the groundwire connection to the frame of the fixture.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 4:22PM
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please look at the diagram again, it does show a black wire (ground) running from both ballasts to a common ground screw.

It also shows the power cords from both wired together, it also shows each ballasts yellow wire with a greenish blue strip also wired to the screw( i do not know what this wire is)

on either side of the ballast their are 4 wires, 2 red, 2 yellow... the diagram shows those wires sent all to one socket and the 4 wires on the other side being sent to the opposite socket....

this is repeated with the second ballast and the 2 left over sockets

in this diagram nothing except the black ground wire the yellow stripped wire and the whitish power cord wires hooked together.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 5:59PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


I am a little curious that your ballasts seem to have two ground wires each, but if they do, they do. On closer inspection of your diagram,

I can see that you do have a separate pair of power lines going to each ballast. However, I am curious about your diagram of the original fixture, which you said was from memory. Can you verify that it is correct? I ask this because if the red lines do go to opposite sides of a socket, then your Figure b would seem to be mis-wired, with two red lines going to the same side of that socket and two yellow lines going to the other side of the socket.

At this moment, my suggestion would be to rewire Figure b to put the red and yellow lines on each side of that socket, to be consistent with the way you have wired the other three sockets.

Is it true that the red wires and the yellow wires are indistinguishable?


    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 7:08PM
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I apologize i made a mistake there are three wires coming from each power cord... it changes the ground wiring configuration all together so I updated the diagrams here are the new links... I apologize for the confusion hopefully this will help solve my problem.

These are for real now, how i had them wired and what they looked like from the beganing...

when i first opened it up:

how i think it should be wired... http://flickr.com/photos/25777429@N07/2429984884/

if you minus the 2nd ballast that is where I am at now...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2008 at 9:25PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


A "nit" on your current original wiring diagram is that the yellow wires on socket A appear to be a bit close together, but I am assuming that they go to different pins on the socket.

I notice that you have only two colors of wires (red and yellow) that go directly to the sockets, while the Zink's diagram shows three colors of wires (red, blue, and yellow). That means that for your A and C sockets, one of you red wires and one of your yellow wires corresponds to the yellow wires in Zink's diagram, but the problem is that we don't know which of your yellow wires corresponds to Zink's yellow wire, or which of your red wires corresponds to Zink's yellow wire, if indeed, either of them do.

In Zink's overdriven mode, both the blue and red wires are combined (I don't think it matters whether the left red wire is combined with the left blue wire or the right blue wire, etc.), and the yellow wire is not combined with any wire. That gives you the problem of deciding which of your yellow wires and which of your red wires should not be combined with any other wire in your overdriven diagram.

Assuming that the "short wire" end of your diagram corresponds to the yellow wire end of Zink's diagram, in the overdriven mode only one wire (the Zink's yellow wire) should be connected to one pin of the socket, and the other pin should have two wires (one of your yellows and one of your reds). At this point, I am not sure that your ballasts are overdrivable. (Grin) But your seeds need to be starting under some lights.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 3:50AM
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yeah i just got them in and I'm having them soak over night... before doing the coffee filter and baggie method... it'll have to be normal florescent lights for now... I'll have to work on the over driving thing for winter....

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 7:20PM
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Wow! When did these topic threads start going beyond 100 entries? Anyhow, Im glad to see you all are getting results from your efforts.

ofmossandmoose: What is the Make and Model of the ballasts you are re-wiring? I went to the HD website and looked up the part number from the URL you posted. The HD product image looked like the same fixture that always had the Sunpark SL-15 ballast in it. I have not bought one of them for over a year, but occasionally I still look inside the boxes at Home Depot to see if they are still using the same one that I originally used here. I was going to stop by HD in the next few days to peek in their boxes. The wire colors you show seem a bit unusual. That one diagram of yours showed a BLACK wire going to ground. If they are using a black wire for a ground they are asking for trouble. According to code, BLACK should be HOT and WHITE should be NEUTRAL. There is a definite logic to that. If it were reversed, and the WHITE(hot) wire had shorted for some reason, and turned black, you could easily mistake it for neutral. Bzzzzzt! The HD site had also described that fixture you referenced as being "Instant-On". I am not sure if they were referring to the lack of a plug, or that the ballast is actually "instant-start", or whatever. Until I know something more, I couldnt tell you for sure what I am looking at. By the way, what graphics program did you use to generate the fancy drawing you posted?

maineman: I was surprised to hear you had some ballasts burn out. I live near our local power station and my supply normally stays between 121v-122v. For over 3 years I have been overdriving a myriad of different lamps on a regular basis (including 55w T5s, 40w-54wBIAX types) with the SL-15 ballast all still working. The only SL-15 ballast I ever had fail was, oddly enough, NOT overdriven. I did actually kill another ballast myself, so it didnt really fail. I have used (and just played around with) a lot of other electronic ballasts, but the Home Depot fixtures containing the Sunpark SL-15 were just so damned affordable.

Paul: Your 22-lamp array reminded me of a setup I had 15 years ago. I had painted a coal bin flat white. Then I put 30-F40wT12s spaced at 3" across the ceiling. It was so bright (even though they were not overdriven) that I kept sunglasses nearby in case I didnt feel like dealing with the light.

People sometimes knock overdriving by saying that it wears out lamps prematurely. Some folks also say to toss your bulbs after 6 months because of reduced lumens-per-watt. I have had about 20 bulbs being overdriven for over 2 years and have only had 3 of them go out. EVEN AT THEIR END, they were burning brighter than a NEW bulb being normally-driven. After 2 years, the remaining lamps are still a LOT brighter than normal. And, strangely enough, lamps such as a 40wT12 which will no longer light in a normal shoplight, WILL light up again using an ODed SL-15.

For those who are interested, there is an aquarium site where someone has played around with a bunch of overdrive configurations and measured the power and light. They have posted the information here:


    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 1:19AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Thanks for the ODNO measurements: power consumption vs light output message thread link. Very interesting and worthy of study.

In the case when I audibly fried a Sunpark SL-15 ballast, I inserted the plug a little crookedly into an old wall socket and there was an audible sparking/arcing at the plug and the fluorescent tubes flashed momentarily and went dark. The bulbs worked fine in another fixture, but the ballast wouldn't do anything, although there was no external sign of damage.

Since then, I have had several Sunpark SL-15 ballasts burn out, while only a couple of T8 bulbs burned out. I am beginning to think that the Philips 20,000-hour bulbs are going to outlast the ballasts. My wife suspects that our line voltage fluctuates, sometimes approaching a brownout. And we have had some power outages in which the power died with spectacular surges, sometimes spiking on and off several times in quick succession before dying altogether (and staying off for several days). I lost a computer and a monitor in one of those episodes, despite a $50 surge protector. Maine has a lot of trees and wind storms.

I started to order replacement SL-15 ballasts from the Sunpark Electronics website, but the shipping costs were exorbitant, bringing the cost of the ballasts alone up to very near the cost of the complete fixtures at our local Home Depot. I emailed them that it shouldn't cost over a dollar per ballast to ship ballasts, but they ignored me. I wonder if they even want to sell the ballasts.

I still feel grateful to you for turning me onto overdriving Home Depot's Commercial Electric Shoplights. Overdriving has been a big help with my indoor gardening.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 3:35AM
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You are very welcome. It is fortunate for us that electronic ballast circuits work as they do. Luckily, most e-ballast circuit designs cause the high-frequency driving currents of each output section to synchronize when wired in parallel. That nicely eliminates the AC phasing issues you would have with a magnetic ballast.

Have you ever dismantled a CFL? Wheven a CFL fails, either the ballast, or the tube is still good. You should try using a SL-15 to OD a 26w spiral bulb. They really glow! If the tube portion is bad, you can remove the circuit and replace/improve the magnetic ballast in a low wattage under-cabinet type fixture.

I seem to be routinely compelled to goof off with this stuff.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 10:35AM
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maineman(z5a ME)


Overdriven CFLs? What a concept! It might be fun to try just for the novelty of it.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 1:07PM
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yah i made a mistake on the orginal diagrams however the last diagram that shows up is the correct one... the one that mentions what power cord wire connects to what...

and yes its the same model except no more sunpark... it might be an update...

oh and these fancy diagrams are 100% power point :)

if you look up you'll find a link to the flickr page where they ar eat... the old ones which showed the ground error are no longer there...

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 4:16PM
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oh and zink, if you have the time and interest to help, and have any more questions you can email me at ofmossandmoose@yahoo.com

its nice to have someone more experienced as a sounding board when learning a new idea

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 10:26AM
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I am using the instant start t8 ballast, instead of the rapid start ballast shown in the picture above. My 2 tube t8 ballast has 2 blue wires, one for the hot end of each tube that it was designed to power. I just use BOTH outputs for ONE tube, and it seems to work really well so far. I have verified the light output with a digital light meter, and the results match what others are getting with the rapid start ballast. The reason I am using this ballast, is I GOT THEM REALLY CHEAP ON EBAY!!! some guy had rain fall on a pallet of ballasts, the boxes got soaked and the cases rusted, so I was getting 10 ballasts for $40 with shipping included. :)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 9:01PM
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the never ending 5yr thread, nice...Quick thank you for the info, and appreciate the time taken away from your experiments. gla and thx for sharing .j.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 11:46AM
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I am obviously very late to the game but I have a question hopefully someone can answer. Is there any reason why I couldn't use this Sunpark ballast to overdrive 18" t8 bulbs? They are 15 watt bulbs. I only have a 28 gal bow front tank and it is barely 24 inches wide. I would like to not have any overhang with my hood. So I found the 18 inch T8 bulbs and plan to run 4 overdriven bulbs using 4 sunpark ballasts. Is this a bad idea?

Hopefully someone in the know still checks this forum for updates.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 11:56AM
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Just hook up ONE 18" t8 in the place of the 4' t8, to ONLY ONE set of output leads from the ballast. The ballast was designed to normally drive 2 32w t8's, so by substituting a pair of 15w
18" lamps, you will basically be overdriving already, I'm not sure if it will be x2 or x3, but you will clearly be overdriving it quite well. I don't have a lot of electrical background, but I do have an overdriven t8 garden, and I am quite sure you will only need two of the sunpark ballasts. Otherwise you will be more than 4 - 6X overdriving, that is too much, and something might burn out. (I imagine the lamp would be ignited into a blazing fury with 6x overdriving, but I would only do this is you are interested in pyrotechnics, and even then I would not recommend.)

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 7:32PM
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I've never none anything with Sunpark ballasts so i can't
say for sure on this...
Swapping out the 48" bulbs as the above post states may
(or may not) work - some ballasts 'know' when you've put
in shorter bulbs and just adjust the output accordingly,
thus they won't overdrive.

Try it and see since its very easy to test since no
re-wiring is needed...

If it doesn't work/overdrive like that, there is another
way. First try putting 2 18" bulbs in series in place of
a single 48" (the ballast will see that as a single 36")
again you don't need to re-wire anything anything for this test.

Not all ballasts will light bulbs in series, but if it
light you can re-wire for overdrive as shown in various
posts above, instead of a single 48" just substitute the
2 18" in series (it may even work with 3 in series)

-hope that made sense

    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 12:47AM
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A very good way to use smaller wattage lamps is to connect them in series, the sum wattage being roughly equal to what you want to drive OR overdrive. So, if you connect 2-15 watt lamps in series you are basically driving 30 watts. Given the rather variable range that most electronic ballasts can drive, you can put together, in series, quite a useful assortment of bulb sizes. I have tried quite a few combinations using quite an assortment of ballasts and most all of them worked well. Overdriving is really nice in this situation, because you can put very bright lights in small (short) spaces.

The diagram, CONNECTING 2 LAMPS IN SERIES states 'Substituting 2-24" Lamps for a 48" Lamp'. You can actually use anything else that is close to those stated wattages A ballast made for a 32w lamp should easily drive 2-15w lamps in series. If is the ballast can be overdriven, then you could put 2, probably 3, 15w lamps in series and light them nicely. Ive done both, and built an really handy 18" 4-bulb overdrive fixture.

It is important to wire them in series correctly. The lamp=lamp connections need to be fully hooked together, with both end pins connected to one another as shown below. Always ground your fixtures casing. Ballasts are notorious for generating loose currents. Plus, having a grounded reflector always aids in starting the lamp.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2008 at 2:27AM
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Zink's image shows perfectly how to wire bulbs in series!

Before logging on tonight i tried 3 18" 15w T8's in series
and they lit just fine with an 'Advance' brand T8 ballast
both normal and overdriven (and that was in my ungrounded
wood-frame test 'fixture'...not to mention wired with just
a single wire between the bulbs as the first 'wrong' shows
...but it was afterall a test only)

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 12:08AM
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In the past month or so i've done a little
experimenting with overdriving various bulbs
...why?...just because i wanted to see how
well it worked...and because i had some spare
ballasts sitting around.
below is a few reviews from some of those

One of the first trials I used an electronic
ballast designed for 2 96" T12's ('Pro-Line'
model '99612'). This was something i picked
up a couple years ago cheap at a store
closing sale.

First test: 4 48" bulbs (2 parrellel groups of
2 in series) - so the ballast 'sees' what it
should: 2 96" bulbs... that worked just as
expected they lit at normal brightness. Current
draw: 1.16 A (very close to what the ballast

Second test: 2 48" bulbs - so the ballast 'sees'
2 48" bulbs (or half the length it should)...
that didn't work quite as expected: they still
lit at normal brightness... So it 'knows'
they're 48" bulbs and doesn't overdrive? Smart
ballast :)
Current draw: .62 A

Third test: 2 48" bulbs in series, but with
both outputs put into that 'single' 96" bulb -
so the ballast 'sees' ... um? ... i'm not sure
... but That deff made the bulbs light
brighter! Current draw: .98 A

I didn't try anything else like a single 48"
for fear of damaging something.

With the 3rd test/overdrive, the bulbs and
ballast deff generate some heat. I did not
compare how much hotter the ballast gets
compared to normal (2 96" T12's)....but i
would assume just as a guess it'd be like
'normal' 2-96" (ie 4 48") ... fairly warm
'overdrive' 1-96" (or 2 48") ... srota hot
'short bulbs' 2-48" ... just plain hot
One other trial i've done is to run a standard
46" T5 28w bulb on a T8 32w Ballast...works
just fine and is bright (i don't have a T5
ballast to compare this brightness to though).
I've also had no problem running 1 48" T8 &
1 48" T2 on a standard (non-electronic)
ballast (it'll flicker slightly til the bulbs
warm up then is just fine...and has ran for
at least a couple years that way)
My latest test was done with an electronic
ballast designed for 3 48" T8's ('Advance'
model 'REL-3P32-RH-TP') ... Like the one
used in the first section of this post this
was picked up cheap at a store closing sale
(i picked up a few various ballasts 'just
because i might need them').

First test: 1 48" T12 (on the first output) +
2 18" T8 in series (on the 2nd output) and
leaving the 3rd output unused.
Current draw: .48 A

Second test: leave 1st & 3rd as is, put 3
18" T8's in series on the 2nd...interesting
that this takes alittle more juice...the
thing 'knows' its a longer bulb :)
Current draw: .57 A

Third test: leave 1st as is, Connect 3rd so
both it and 2nd are doing a 2x overdrive for
the 3 18" T8's ... visible increase in
brightness, and they get a fair amount warmer
as well...
Current draw: .69 A

After seeing that you can get good light out
of 18" bulbs i'd be tempted to OD them the
next time i need good light on a small
aquarium (or plant stand)...the only issue i
see is heat. (same goes for 24")

Hopefully that all made sense. i'd post some
images/drawings but don't see a way to upload
here...am i missing something for uploading
images?? Or do you have use something like

Has anyone ever compared not only how much
hotter the bulbs get when overdriving, but
also the ballast? As mentioned somewhere in
the above text my guess is that it (ballast)
gets hotter when overdriving...

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 8:44PM
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The ballast should be COOLER when overdriving a single bulb by 2x, compared to driving 2 bulbs when operating normally. This is because, overall, the OD'ed lamp draws less than 2 NO(normally operated) lamps. Here are the measuments using a SunPark SL-15 and F32T8 lamps. Other similarly sized e-ballasts have nearly identical measurements.

Normally driven 2-lamp operation (2-F32T8s):
Measured Current= .53mA, or 63.6 watts

Overdriven 1-lamp operation (1-F32T8):
Measured Current= .46mA, or 55.2 watts

Here, overdriving 1 lamp uses only 87% of the power used to drive 2 lamps in normal mode.

You may find this interesting. Here is the power used by the SunPark SL-15, in 2x overdrive mode, lighting a single 54wT5/HO lamp:
Measured Current= .46mA, or 55.2 watts
It is exactly the same current draw that the ballast uses in normal 2-lamp F32T8 operation. Oddly enough, the recommendations in the specifications listed by Philips for the 54wT5/HO lamp is exactly .46mA.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 12:28PM
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That does make sense...i was thinking it would get hotter
only because you're driving it in a way it was never exactly
designed for, basically being harder on the ballast even tho
its using less amps.

With one light i'm running OD'ed now (2 48" T12's on a 2 96"
ballast described in my previous post) the ballast gets
fairly hot...but not nearly as hot as the standard
(non-electronic) ballasts in my other lights (those are 48"
T12 as well and of course N.O.) ... you could probably cook
dinner on those things in the summer!
As mentioned i didn't compare how hot OD vs NO got...
that might be a good trial for my test 'fixture' sometime

Your findings with the T5HO bulb are interesting...have you
tried running standard (28w) T5's on a T8 32w ballast - not
wired for overdrive?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:31PM
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maineman(z5a ME)


"...Or do you have use something like PhotoBucket?"

You do have to use something like PhotoBucket (which is the one I use). Then use HTML to link the image inline.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 11:33AM
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Recently i've been thinking about making the lights on
my housplants (and fishtank w/ live plants) more efficient...

So tonight i got the random idea and did some experimenting
with various f.l. lights & bulbs...was alittle surprised
at my results.

Lights/Ballasts used:
Standard (ie: non-electronic) 48" 40watt T12 2-bulb
Electronic 48" 32w T8 4-bulb (over-driving 2 bulbs)

I tried 3 diff bulb combo's in both lights (in all cases
48" bulbs)
A) 2 T12 (well...just light)
B) 1 T12 + 1 T8 (The T8 was bright!)
C) 2 T8 (Bright!!)

the T8's were deff brighter than the T12's (which i
expected) but... (and I don't have any way to measure the
light output) by just looking at it, the 2 diff ballasts
looked exactly the same brightness...and they took
basically the same power. I thought electronic was supposed
to be more efficient?? LOL

"T12 light":
A) === .75a
B) === .79a
C) === .85a

"T8 OD light":
A) === .74a
B) === .79a
C) === .83a

Since i use T12's (and have plenty of spares) i'll just
stick with the 'normal' ballast as the only thing i see
with the OD'en T8 ballast is that (the ballast) will be
alittle cooler
I did one other test too using a 2x96" T12 electronic
ballast (O.D.'ing 2 48" in series) ... in all cases it was
brighter than the above :) ...but also took more power :(
2xT12 = 1.0a ... (bright!)
2xT8 == 1.1a ... (Damn thats intense!)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 10:58PM
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I noticed that myself: instead of going through various convolutions, the easiest was to overdrive is run t8's with a 40w ballast. t12 ballast is available either electronic of magnetic. sure saves A LOT of labour, and still gives excellent results. or look into running t10's.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 5:42PM
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The ballasts I use are the t8 electronic instant start. You can get TEN of them on EBAY right now for ONLY FORTY BUCKS FOR ALL TEN. The guy has about 350 of them, and he'll even look at offers. I bought about fifty, and they work nice for overdrive.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 11:57PM
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I've seen the auctions cannabisgrower mentioned
above - thats a good deal if you need 2-lamp ballasts!
(and great to know those will overdrive too)

but, unfortunately the guy only has 2-lamp (no 4-lamp
ones...and yes i asked - LOL)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 11:41PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Well I don't know what happened to all the replies that are missing but this list of ballasts was the last one posted by me. They should all work for overdriving except maybe the few I listed under " Possible 4 lamp that cross reference with Sylvania, GE or Advance ". Please let us know if you have tried those ballasts and if they will work or not.


Advance REL-4P32-SC
Advance ICN-4P32-SC
Damar 3093A
Fulham Workhorse 5
GE B432I120RH
GE B432M120RH
GE 432Max-H-Ultra
Magnetek B432I120RH
Sylvania QT4x32/120 IS-SC
Sylvania QTP 4x32T8/120 ISN-A
Sylvania QTP 4x32T8/UNV ISN-A
TCPI E-432-IS32-120N

Possible 4 lamp that cross reference with Sylvania, GE or Advance.
Howard EP4/32IS-120 SC
Howard E4/32IS/120-277 SC
Universal B432IUNV HP-A
Universal B432I120 RH-A
Triad B432IUNVHP-A

2 Lamp Instant Start

Advance REL-2P32-SC
Advance ICN-2P32-SC
GE B232I120RH
GE 232Max-H-Ultra
Sylvania QT2x32/120 IS-SC
Sylvania QTP 2x32T8/120 ISN-A
TCPI E-232-IS32-120N

Possible 2 Lamp IS that cross reference

Howard E2/32IS-120 SC
Howard Ep2/32IS/120-277 SC
Universal B232I120RH-A
Universal B232IUNVHP-B
SLI/Valmont E23PI120G01

2Lamp Rapid Start

Sunpark SL-15
Advance REL-2S40-SC
Advance REL-2S40-RH-TP
GE B232R120HP
GE B232M20RH
Sylvania QTP 2x32T8/120 RSN-D

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 8:45AM
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Wow! What happened, iVillage??? It looks like we lost the last part of 2008, all of 2009, and the first part of this year in this message thread. Can the missing parts be restored?

And can the original 100-message thread also be restored from an archive? Zink was the founding father of fluorescent overdriving history here in this forum in that ground-breaking original message thread. My seedlings thank Zink every day for the extra light they are receiving.


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 12:18PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Hi ZM. There's a lot of good info missing in those posts including (I think) the newest link to the wiring diagrams. I could repost diagrams but not sure if I would be violating the TOS since I'm not the one that created them. I also wanted to say that the list that I posted above has 2 la-mp IS ballasts not tested or listed as tested as far as Oding under " Possible 2 La-mp IS that cross reference ". If anyone has used these please let us know if they will also work for ODing. Looks like we'll have to start another continuation of this thread very soon. Not sure if they can do it but I will contact GW to see if the missing posts can be restored.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 7:15PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

"Sylvania QT4x32/120 IS-SC "

I found a source for these... is there a wiring diagram to overdrive them?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 10:38PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Here are the diagrams.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 9:10AM
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Here is a link that might be useful: Zinks diagrams

Thanks, I wasn't aware that there is such a thing as "instant start" ballasts. The wiring diagrams for those instant start ballasts suggest to me that fluorescent bulbs with burnt out filaments will still operate with those ballasts. I am getting excited because I have a lot of expensive burnt out fluorescent bulbs that might be resurrected and, thereby, also have my pack rattiness vindicated.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 5:35PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Yes Struw some if not all your bulbs will ignite with IS ballasts. I've tried it with great results. I'm a pack rat also. I hate to throw something out that I might use in the future. Some call it clutter but I call it resources.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 6:12PM
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Exactly what kind of instant start ballast would you recommend for burnt out, two pin, F40T12 bulbs? Apparently, most are made for T8.

It's also fun finding stuff that you forgot you had.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 6:36PM
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I also just realized that I might be able to run two burnt out 48" T12 bulbs in series by using a 96" T12 rapid start ballast, which I already have in my stock.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 7:08PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Are you interested in overdriving your bulbs? If not I have no experience with F40 ballasts. I use 4 bulb F32 ballasts to drive 2 F40s. I get around 5000 lumen from each T12.
These are the 2 I've used.
Advance ICN-4P32-SC
Sylvania QTP4x32T8/UNV ISN-SC

Anything from the list above with IS in the part# should work. An R in the part# usually mean it's Rapid start.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 7:21PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

I also just realized that I might be able to run two burnt out 48" T12 bulbs in series by using a 96" T12 rapid start ballast, which I already have in my stock.

Be careful. The ballasts you have may be magnetic. This thread is about ODing lights and all the ballasts used are (I believe) Electronic.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 7:38PM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Not sure if you're notified by email or not. Maybe you're lurking out there somewhere? Can I push a pair of 13w T5s with a 2X32w and 4 14w T5s with a 4X32w ballast without them blowing up in my face? I've used the 4X32w to OD 2 40w T12s so I know they are OD-able ballasts but don't know if the NO wiring will have the same effect on the lower wattage bulbs. I'd assume so but would rather get some input before trying it. TIA

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 3:16AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Ok it just doesn't work that way! N.O. wired ballasts only draw the wattage of the bulb. There must be 2 wires to one end of the bulb on instant start ballasts to overdrive the bulb. I don't think I want to attempt pushing 64w through a 13w bulb. I'll try wiring the bulbs in series and see if that works.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 12:15AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

Wiring the bulbs in series worked. The overdriven 13w are brighter than the N.O. 14w so I would call that success.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 1:24AM
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A few years ago I needed to increase the light in a kitchen lit by an overhead fluorescent fixture. As I found it, it had two 4-foot T8 735 tubes and an "energy-saving" (read: light-reducing) instant-start ballast. To make it brighter without the hassle and expense of replacing the lamp fixture, I replaced the ballast with the highest-overdriving ballast I could find that could drive a pair of F32 T8's. After some online research, I wound up buying a Philips Advance IOP3P32HL90CSC (a.k.a. IOP3P32HL90CSC3SI , sometimes with several hyphens inserted for readability). It can drive either 2 or 3 bulbs, but overdrives more when used with 2 bulbs. This was a few years ago, there might be something better now, but 1.37 ballast factor replacing a 0.87 or something makes a substantial improvement in brightness. I also upped the brightness slightly by replacing the TL735 bulbs with TL830 or TL835's which are slightly brighter and have better color rendering, which the eye perceives as adding brightness.

Re: Philips TL930/TL950 :I've used both the Philips TL930 (95CRI) and TL950 (98CRI) 4-foot tubes., which fortunately I was able to buy two at a time from the local retailer. The TL950s illuminated my kitchen; the 930s went into a basement rec room where they match the color temperature of halogen downlights.

The TL950s won't blow you away upon first turning them on - they look like typical cool/sunlight fluorescents at first. Its just that the different colors really pop out well and cleanly and the colors jump out at you rather than being dulled. The kitchen there has no windows, and in the morning sunlight, I noticed the ambient light from the windows across the apartment matched the TL950 light in the kitchen perfectly. If I take pictures with a film camera loaded with standard color film (daylight-balanced), pictures taken with available light indoors under typical "cool white" fluorescents lend an awful greenish cast to everything, but those shot under TL950s had perfect color. That says boatloads about the TL950's color accuracy.

As for the lower lumen output, I again compensated by overdriving them by about 25%. I needed a rapid-start ballast for these fixtures, and went with a GE/Motorola ballast that overdrives a pair of F32 T8's with a ballast factor of about 1.20 IIRC, not as bright as the Philips I mentioned above but adequate for my needs here, plus I needed rapid-start rather than instant-start for this application.

There are (were?) 2700K, 3500K, 4100K, and 6500K versions of these bulbs sold in Europe. Too bad they aren't sold in North America.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 2:44PM
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