I have a Keystone ceiling light fixture that uses two concentric circular fluorescent bulbs. For a number of years it worked fine, but a year ago both light bulbs burned out. I replaced the bulbs, but recently the fixture started having problems again, namely it refused to turn on when the switch was flipped (would blink and go out again) and it would take several tries to turn it on (and sometimes it refused to turn on entirely). I bought another pair of light bulbs and opened it up, at which point I found that (a) one of the old bulbs was totally burned out, while the other one still worked but looked like it was getting close to burning out, and (b) one set of connecting cables from the power box worked, but the other didn't. I changed the larger (32W) bulb and connected it to the working connectors, and left the broken connectors loose (I left the burned out smaller [22w] bulb in the fixture just to take up space). But now (a week later) the fixture is doing the same thing: blinking and refusing to turn on when the switch is first flipped, so that it takes multiple flips back and forth to turn it on. Clearly there is something wrong with the fixture itself. What would you recommend doing? And is this something a person who is not particularly handy or experienced can do themselves? Thanks a lot for your help.
In my opinion, you've done some very good troubleshooting. It sounds like the ballast is failing.
There are replacement ballasts (the "power box" as you call it) available, and the bulb connectors and wires are included with the ballast. This is an old technology, so you may have to hunt for it, or buy it online. But you will find that a replacement fixture is almost the same price. Google "fluorescent circline light fixture".
But, that said, consider. . . We are in the middle of dramatic change in the types of light fixtures that are being sold. A lot of old stuff is going away. A lot of new energy saving types will be invented and sold in a short time. A lot of energy saving types have already made it to the lighting store.
From your description, I'll bet the ballast in your "circline" fluorescent fixture is a heavy all-metal, so-called "magnetic" ballast. This is the least efficient of fluorescent ballasts. Much more efficient ballasts that are "electronic" are available today.
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