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LED Conversion of Fluorescent Tubes - READ CAREFULLY... NOT as SIMPLE or CHEAPER??....


Tom Cherry

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LATE BREAKING...I just received a call back from Optronics, who made my overhead fluorescent fixtures. They researched them....and could NOT determine the specs for the early 2000's units.

One SENIOR Tech said that he THOUGHT that the Ballasts were NOT ELECTRONIC. Therefore, the GE Tubes that I posted are not compatible with them.  He believed that the ballasts were more of the conventional "old style" where there is a preheater voltage to "start" the light and then it drops off to the run voltage. That would explain the two step or dim, then bright startup.

As we talked, he said that the 12 VDC Ballasts, he was told, was a different "Critter" than the AC Ballasts. All the info we have today primarily deals with that. Therefore, I am removing the tubes that I just installed and will look at other options....which are pointed out in my posts that follows.

Thanks to the folks that were involved and commented as they prompted me to do the research. The lights work great.....but the question is HOW LONG will that last. The Senior tech did say.....we used one brand (could not remember) and we also got some from a vendor in Taiwan....but based on his recollection....they were not electronic and the part numbers were so old that you could not find specs on them.

The overall comments about how they are made are correct. My ballasts are working and I only found a few cases where folks had lost the ballasts.  That may be good....but based on age, there COULD BE (no evidence) some failures.  Please read carefully....I will add a comment to my additional post....

We have used the Camelot for almost 2 years equivalent....so it has not set in storage that much. I replaced some of the Fluorescent Tubes in 2017 and I knew that more were probably starting "age". In the OLD site, there was quite a bit of discussion that if you kept nursing along the OEM Fluorescent fixtures and the bulbs were aging....that had some impact on the expected life of the ballasts. 

There was also a lot of discussion about the RFI (EMF? or NOISE) associated with the Fluorescent tubes and their impact on the electronics.  Specifically the "clock" or chip that drives the Intellitec EMS as well as some of the 5 button TStats....and a LOT more problems on the Intellitec Multiplex circuitry....whether the full blown version on the Dynasties and above or the hybrid in the Camelots.

We were boondocking at a Cabelas in RIchmond and had noticed some failures.  For the record, we have 3 18" (2 bulb) fixtures up front in the living-galley area. I keep the front one OFF and we only use the center and rear one. There are also 3 fixtures in the bedroom. One 18" and two 12" ones. I had elected to only run one of the 12's and the 18 as that was way more than enough light.  I did not mention the Bathroom or the "hallway".  I have decided to DO THEM as well as the 18" also....

Bottom line....I did some research....and also did some replacing.....so this is MY experience and MY thoughts....others will differ and that is what makes us unique.  I am quite capable of rewiring or replacing or removing the fixtures or the ballasts and installing the LED Arrays. However, I had also done a major project for the church and learned some things from the Duke Energy experts....as well as a buddy who came across an interesting LED feature....not on ALL LED tubes, but more common now than before.

If you have 120 VAC Fluorescent fixtures and have had them for a while, odds are, you MIGHT have had to install a ballast. I have installed 4 ballasts at home as I do not want to have to rehang or find an equivalent fixture....the DW LOVES the kitchen one....so nurse it along.

With the newer technology LED Tubes, you can USE your existing Ballast....OR you can wire around it and feed the LED's 120 VAC line voltage. If you google "remove ballast for LED conversion", you will find many articles....all are simple and you can actually follow the color codes if you don't quite understand the schematic.  SO, that will be my NEXT replacement.....LED's running off Line Voltage at home.

OK....back on track.  There are TWO types of LED's for RV/Marine.  One is advertised as a 12 VDC or Ballast type. From what I read on Amazon, the light output from 12 VDC is reduced. The ratings were not that good. I read NO MORE and passed on this option.  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH if that if your cup of tea.

Then, I found that the GE 12" tubes were priced at Lowes at the same or cheaper than Amazon and they are BULK Shipped and not thrown into a box and banged all over the country. So, I bought 4 of them. I decided to use the TWO 12" fixtures in the Bedroom and then switch off the 18" one.  We have the "Daylight" tubes....some original and some from 2017. The ones that I put in are "adjustable" in that you have THREE different temperatures....they come as COOL WHITE...which matches the LED's that I used when I converted the puck and socket lights to LED many years ago. The map lights are the only incandescent and I can't get the cover off....

I was PLEASANTLY surprised.....the two (2 bulb) 12 LED fixtures with Cool White put out MORE than a "smidge" (subjectively) than the single 18" and the one 12" (both are 2 tube fixtures).  DW is elated. MORE light....and she is now moving from the OMG, I want daylight to "Hey, CW is cool".

Here is the link to the Lowes 12" tube that I bought. They popped in easily and are starting instantly....so no issues.... BTW....the Lowe's price on the Fluorescent is $9 and the LED is only $13....  I think that the LED tubes for our MH used to be about twice that....but I might be wrong.... I am now saving 4 Amp Hours of my batteries....WOO HOO!....every little bit helps....

https://www.lowes.com/pd/GE-Color-Correct-Technology-8-Watt-EQ-12-in-Daylight-Linear-LED-Tube-Light-Bulb/5000762909

I think, from watching, that the old ballasts will do an INSTANT start on the new LED's and there is certainly NO Hesitation.

BTW....  I GOOFED.  I was checking the "switch" on a tube and realized there is a TOP and a BOTTOM to the tube....there is a label on the tube, but I failed to turn them all UP. WOW....with all of them turned DOWN and shining....it is MUCH brighter. Pay attention to the label side and it should go UP.

Hope this is of interest....

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20 minutes ago, Tom Cherry said:

We have used the Camelot for almost 2 years equivalent....so it has not set in storage that much. I replaced some of the Fluorescent Tubes in 2017 and I knew that more were probably starting "age". In the OLD site, there was quite a bit of discussion that if you kept nursing along the OEM Fluorescent fixtures and the bulbs were aging....that had some impact on the expected life of the ballasts. 

There was also a lot of discussion about the RFI (EMF? or NOISE) associated with the Fluorescent tubes and their impact on the electronics.  Specifically the "clock" or chip that drives the Intellitec EMS as well as some of the 5 button TStats....and a LOT more problems on the Intellitec Multiplex circuitry....whether the full blown version on the Dynasties and above or the hybrid in the Camelots.

We were boondocking at a Cabelas in RIchmond and had noticed some failures.  For the record, we have 3 18" (2 bulb) fixtures up front in the living-galley area. I keep the front one OFF and we only use the center and rear one. There are also 3 fixtures in the bedroom. One 18" and two 12" ones. I had elected to only run one of the 12's and the 18 as that was way more than enough light.

Bottom line....I did some research....and also did some replacing.....so this is MY experience and MY thoughts....others will differ and that is what makes us unique.  I am quite capable of rewiring or replacing or removing the fixtures or the ballasts and installing the LED Arrays. However, I had also done a major project for the church and learned some things from the Duke Energy experts....as well as a buddy who came across an interesting LED feature....not on ALL LED tubes, but more common now than before.

If you have 120 VAC Fluorescent fixtures and have had them for a while, odds are, you MIGHT have had to install a ballast. I have installed 4 ballasts at home as I do not want to have to rehang or find an equivalent fixture....the DW LOVES the kitchen one....so nurse it along.

With the newer technology LED Tubes, you can USE your existing Ballast....OR you can wire around it and feed the LED's 120 VAC line voltage. If you google "remove ballast for LED conversion", you will find many articles....all are simple and you can actually follow the color codes if you don't quite understand the schematic.  SO, that will be my NEXT replacement.....LED's running off Line Voltage at home.

OK....back on track.  There are TWO types of LED's for RV/Marine.  One is advertised as a 12 VDC or Ballast type. From what I read on Amazon, the light output from 12 VDC is reduced. The ratings were not that good. I read NO MORE and passed on this option.  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH if that if your cup of tea.

Then, I found that the GE 12" tubes were priced at Lowes at the same or cheaper than Amazon and they are BULK Shipped and not thrown into a box and banged all over the country. So, I bought 4 of them. I decided to use the TWO 12" fixtures in the Bedroom and then switch off the 18" one.  We have the "Daylight" tubes....some original and some from 2017. I chose COOL WHITE as I converted the puck and socket lights to LED many years ago. The map lights are the only incandescent and I can't get the cover off....

I was PLEASANTLY surprised.....the two (2 bulb) 12 LED fixtures with Cool White put out a smidge more (subjectively) than the single 18" and the one 12" (both are 2 tube fixtures).  DW is elated. MORE light....and she is now moving from the OMG, I want daylight to "Hey, CW is cool".

Here is the link to the Lowes 12" tube that I bought. They popped in easily and are starting instantly....so no issues.... BTW....the Lowe's price on the Fluorescent is $9 and the LED is only $13....  I think that the LED tubes for our MH used to be about twice that....but I might be wrong.... I am now saving 4 Amp Hours of my batteries....WOO HOO!....every little bit helps....

https://www.lowes.com/pd/GE-Color-Correct-Technology-8-Watt-EQ-12-in-Daylight-Linear-LED-Tube-Light-Bulb/5000762909

I HAVE noticed that one of the living-galley fixtures seems to be a little sluggish. I MAY upgrade the two of them also and see if the ballast works OK. I will now have TWO "OFF" 18" fixtures, so if I have a ballast failure, I might rob one.....or be a big spender and get a new ballast...

Hope this is of interest....

Awesome! I hadn’t thought about that route. For some reason it was in my head that I needed RV style tubes as I thought 12v. So I purchased tubes that did away with the ballast. 
 

I have converted both styles at our shop. The pop in ones are way easier that removing ballasts as our ceiling height is 14’ at work.

Those tubes you shared are a lot cheaper way to go for sure 

 

Edited by JDCrow
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I've never used the LED tube replacements for the fluorescents.  I have used self adhesive LED strips which can be wired directly to 12v.  I just disconnect ballasts from the circuit and leave 'em in place as they don't seem to get in the way.  Did them all on our last coach but your post reminds me I have a few yet to do on this one.  🙂

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I was doing some work remounting the bedroom sliding doors and then got CURIOUS. I corrected a few statements in my first post.

The tubes are switchable....as they have a slider switch for different temps of light.  They come as COOL WHITE setting

The tubes have a label on the top. I put some down.  Changed that to where all are ARRAY SIDE down....WOW....that helped also.

I decided to do the rest of the ones that we use. SO, I am converting the bathroom and hallway to LED as well as the kitchen/galley lights. That way, it is all done and we can enjoy them.  NOW, I am REALLY saving amp hours...  LOL...

You make the call....rewire and convert to LED or use the LED tubes....

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Not sure these will work on a 12V system.  Went to your Lowes link and looked at the Q&A/Reviews for this product (18") and found this:

"You are correct, our LED tubes are not compatible with every ballast, and they are not compatible with 12-volt RV ballasts. For any future issues/questions, please don't hesitate to call us directly at 1-800-435-4448; we'll be glad to assist."

GE Lighting, a Savant company

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Now I am really confused.   The manufacturer per Ken says these are not compatible with RV ballast and Tom says they work fine for him.  As you may recall in a post and series, my experience was a blown fuse with LED tubes in my 18" kitchen light over the sink.  It worked for a while,  then blew the fuse, as the puck light on the same circuit also now does not work.  I still have not found that fuse in the multiple fuses on the multiplex system.  I still want to convert all the tube florescent lights in the coach to LED strip or LED tubes.  I thought I would have to do strip, now I am not so sure.

Edited by Rich Cutler
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Just got back from Lowes with a pair of replacements for the F15T8-WW tubes with the plan that if these 2 work, I'll do some more lights.  Well, they don't work.  But then I thought, well duh, these must be for 120 volts only and I need 12 volt for all the smaller fluorescents in this Beaver.  Back to the drawing board.  Any suggestions?

Dennis

 

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The pdf at the Lowes site which Tom linked to explains the ins and outs quite well. The integral driver mentioned is an integrated chip which requires an ac circuit power input in order to perform its magic. Type A will only work with the higher voltage a ballast supplies while type B will work with ballast voltage or 120 V. The pdf said the tubes are compatible only with rapid start ballast, solid state or transformer style. There is a ballast type which uses a pre heater circuit. Would not work behind that type of ballast.

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On 8/22/2021 at 3:28 PM, Tom Cherry said:

We have used the Camelot for almost 2 years equivalent....so it has not set in storage that much. I replaced some of the Fluorescent Tubes in 2017 and I knew that more were probably starting "age". In the OLD site, there was quite a bit of discussion that if you kept nursing along the OEM Fluorescent fixtures and the bulbs were aging....that had some impact on the expected life of the ballasts. 

There was also a lot of discussion about the RFI (EMF? or NOISE) associated with the Fluorescent tubes and their impact on the electronics.  Specifically the "clock" or chip that drives the Intellitec EMS as well as some of the 5 button TStats....and a LOT more problems on the Intellitec Multiplex circuitry....whether the full blown version on the Dynasties and above or the hybrid in the Camelots.

We were boondocking at a Cabelas in RIchmond and had noticed some failures.  For the record, we have 3 18" (2 bulb) fixtures up front in the living-galley area. I keep the front one OFF and we only use the center and rear one. There are also 3 fixtures in the bedroom. One 18" and two 12" ones. I had elected to only run one of the 12's and the 18 as that was way more than enough light.  I did not mention the Bathroom or the "hallway".  I have decided to DO THEM as well as the 18" also....

Bottom line....I did some research....and also did some replacing.....so this is MY experience and MY thoughts....others will differ and that is what makes us unique.  I am quite capable of rewiring or replacing or removing the fixtures or the ballasts and installing the LED Arrays. However, I had also done a major project for the church and learned some things from the Duke Energy experts....as well as a buddy who came across an interesting LED feature....not on ALL LED tubes, but more common now than before.

If you have 120 VAC Fluorescent fixtures and have had them for a while, odds are, you MIGHT have had to install a ballast. I have installed 4 ballasts at home as I do not want to have to rehang or find an equivalent fixture....the DW LOVES the kitchen one....so nurse it along.

With the newer technology LED Tubes, you can USE your existing Ballast....OR you can wire around it and feed the LED's 120 VAC line voltage. If you google "remove ballast for LED conversion", you will find many articles....all are simple and you can actually follow the color codes if you don't quite understand the schematic.  SO, that will be my NEXT replacement.....LED's running off Line Voltage at home.

OK....back on track.  There are TWO types of LED's for RV/Marine.  One is advertised as a 12 VDC or Ballast type. From what I read on Amazon, the light output from 12 VDC is reduced. The ratings were not that good. I read NO MORE and passed on this option.  DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH if that if your cup of tea.

Then, I found that the GE 12" tubes were priced at Lowes at the same or cheaper than Amazon and they are BULK Shipped and not thrown into a box and banged all over the country. So, I bought 4 of them. I decided to use the TWO 12" fixtures in the Bedroom and then switch off the 18" one.  We have the "Daylight" tubes....some original and some from 2017. The ones that I put in are "adjustable" in that you have THREE different temperatures....they come as COOL WHITE...which matches the LED's that I used when I converted the puck and socket lights to LED many years ago. The map lights are the only incandescent and I can't get the cover off....

I was PLEASANTLY surprised.....the two (2 bulb) 12 LED fixtures with Cool White put out MORE than a "smidge" (subjectively) than the single 18" and the one 12" (both are 2 tube fixtures).  DW is elated. MORE light....and she is now moving from the OMG, I want daylight to "Hey, CW is cool".

Here is the link to the Lowes 12" tube that I bought. They popped in easily and are starting instantly....so no issues.... BTW....the Lowe's price on the Fluorescent is $9 and the LED is only $13....  I think that the LED tubes for our MH used to be about twice that....but I might be wrong.... I am now saving 4 Amp Hours of my batteries....WOO HOO!....every little bit helps....

https://www.lowes.com/pd/GE-Color-Correct-Technology-8-Watt-EQ-12-in-Daylight-Linear-LED-Tube-Light-Bulb/5000762909

I think, from watching, that the old ballasts will do an INSTANT start on the new LED's and there is certainly NO Hesitation.

BTW....  I GOOFED.  I was checking the "switch" on a tube and realized there is a TOP and a BOTTOM to the tube....there is a label on the tube, but I failed to turn them all UP. WOW....with all of them turned DOWN and shining....it is MUCH brighter. Pay attention to the label side and it should go UP.

Hope this is of interest....

Tom

Are your fluorescent fixtures 120Vac  or 12 VDC?  According to Lowe's website the bulbs are 120VAC.

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I never used the LED tube replacements for the fluorescents since they were not available 5 years ago when I converted ours.  I used the self adhesive Cool White/Daylight LED strips which are wired directly to 12v. All the ballast's were removed and then the LED strips were installed. We love the additional light from the LED's over the the old fluorescent lamps.

Haven't had a LED fail yet.

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I also used the adhesive strips like Benny. After being advised by M&M that the ballasts could be causing the issues I was experiencing with my Intellitec I went the adhesive LED route. So easy to do and it only cost me approximately $2 per fixture to convert. Once I installed the LEDs I put a dab of silicone on the strips every few inches to assure they stay put. I have six fixtures and have not had any fail since the install 3 years ago. Also, my issue with 2 of my fantastic fans randomly turning on and off stopped after removing the ballasts. 

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8 hours ago, Jeff H said:

Tom

Are your fluorescent fixtures 120Vac  or 12 VDC?  According to Lowe's website the bulbs are 120VAC.

Jeff, Gary and Dennis.... EDITED 3:05 Eastern

LATE BREAKING...I just received a call back from Optronics, who made my overhead fluorescent fixtures. They researched them....and could NOT determine the specs for the early 2000's units.

One SENIOR Tech said that he THOUGHT that the Ballasts were NOT ELECTRONIC. Therefore, the GE Tubes that I posted are not compatible with them.  He believed that the ballasts were more of the conventional "old style" where there is a preheater voltage to "start" the light and then it drops off to the run voltage. That would explain the two step or dim, then bright startup.

As we talked, he said that the 12 VDC Ballasts, he was told, was a different "Critter" than the AC Ballasts. All the info we have today primarily deals with that. Therefore, I am removing the tubes that I just installed and will look at other options....which are pointed out in my posts that follows.

Thanks to the folks that were involved and commented as they prompted me to do the research. The lights work great.....but the question is HOW LONG will that last. The Senior tech did say.....we used one brand (could not remember) and we also got some from a vendor in Taiwan....but based on his recollection....they were not electronic and the part numbers were so old that you could not find specs on them.

The overall comments about how they are made are correct. My ballasts are working and I only found a few cases where folks had lost the ballasts.  That may be good....but based on age, there COULD BE (no evidence) some failures.  Please read carefully.....

I should have used the original DISCLAIMER that Colonel Duckwitz always quoted when giving information on our Motorhomes.  Monaco NEVER made two alike. Purchasing ruled and Monaco would switch vendors for a penny. In addition, Monaco used whatever was "available" when the MH was made....which could be 3 year old items....especially in the last 18 months before the bankruptcy. (see this for HISTORY....which was discussed MORE on the original site...  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monaco_Coach_Corporation  )

Having said that, this is what I have found...

ThinLine and Optronics were two of the brands used. I THINK that Optronics bought out a company named LiteCo. There are posts on ETrailer about the "LiteCo 179" and it being 100% NON FIELD Serviceable. I tried to contact Optronics yesterday, but they were closed.....so here is what I know....as well as THINK...

LiteCo 179 was a fixture used by Monaco in "some?" 2005 models of HR. NOW....was that used in all 2005's and was that also used in both  Eugene, OR and Elkhart, IN? God ONLY knows. For a while, the same "model" was made in both and there were MAJOR differences...

Mine are Optronics 179 with a manufacturing date of late 2007. If you go here, this is shows the fixture from all sides.

https://rvinteriors.visonerv.com/cgi-bin/md/M361167/s7.pl  If you keep clicking on the picture, it will toggle between 6 or 7 views. That is what I have....mine were made within days of the one in the picture.

LOOK CAREFULLY at the construction, especially the bulb end caps and the back. This unit is NON SERVICABLE. There are requests for a replacement ballast on the various forums, but I did NOT find an answer. The bulb end caps are pop riveted (long ones) to a bracket. That bracket is then pop riveted to the back of the fixture. The Ballast is pop riveted to the back of the fixture. There is NOT ONE SCREW used in the assembly. Probably to prevent vibration loosening or maybe cheaper as the metal parts are stamped and punched and painted. The ballast is under the reflector. The reflector is held in place or "sandwiched" and does not appear to come apart...without drilling out the rivets from the back side.

There are also posts on other forums and the dimensions (back side fitted into roof) MAY not be compatible with later fixtures....but you might find an LED one that is totally surface mounted and does not have the fixture recessed into the ceiling. IF I get INFO from Optronics, I will post.

BOTTOM LINE....THEY WORK. I have 12 VDC Lights....NOT 115 VAC. Mine are Electronic, OR THAT IS MY ASSUMPTION.  One does NOT always watch and do high speed photography on a light fixture. I have TWO fixtures with older bulbs, which I keep turned off. The light comes ON instantly and then a few milliseconds later, it sort of "ramps up" and reaches full illumination. You have to watch it several times to pick up the transition. Therefore, I assumed mine are INSTANT ON. 

Having said that, I surveyed my three main home fluorescent fixtures. TWO, that I replaced, that were "Electronic" appear to be totally "instant on" in that there is no change in the light output. One is the same as in the MH. On with maybe 80% illumination and then instantly brightens to full power.

SO....the Optronics (179) that I have are the "two step".  I remember that some members in the older forum stated that if you allowed the tubes to go bad or flicker or have issues that could damage the ballast. True or NOT....I don't know. But, I decided NOT to push them and replaced them when they flickered or went out or had "internal burn marks".

OK....I MIGHT be living on borrowed time....but when I turn on the LED's they do NOT have the pause or two step operation. They light instantly to full power.

EDIT....

Called Optronics....they are "Researching" it and the techs may have been in HS when this was made. The lamp requirement is a F15T8. The T8 were 99%, from what I read, ELECTRONIC. There were two types....the Rapid (may have a pause as there is a preheat circuit) and the Instant Start. Here is a paper on that...

https://www.halcolighting.com/pdf/WP/T8-IS-Retrofit.pdf

Bottom line....Rapid Start gives you longer BULB LIGHT....as the INSTANT START gives you Shorter (higher voltage on start up....particularly bad where the light is turned on and off frequently). BOTH ARE ELECTRONIC. The GE Bulbs require an ELECTRONIC BALLAST....so if your fixtures have T8's in them....then "ODDS ARE", not guaranteed, that the GE's will work with them. 

NEXT THING....I did find out a bit more.  If you are NOT into adhesive arrays, then there is a "Direct" retrofit LED tube. It is about 2X the cost of the GE's....but MAY be available elsewhere cheaper. Here is the INSTALL for it....

http://m4sales.com/InstallT8.pdf

Basically, you direct wire your T8 sockets to 12 VDC and you keep the same style and internal "look". As I said, the install in the Optronics would be to do some "probing" of the terminals. You need ONE SIDE of the fixture to be GROUND (both pins on each tube socket or only one....they are internally jumpered). The OTHER side MUST BE 12 VDC and same....only ONE pin or BOTH. Obviously both the end tube sockets must be Parallel wired....and if you don't know what that means.....do some research before you disassemble and cut wiring.  The use of the side switch is optional, but I would do it.

SO>>>>>>as LONG as your fixtures WORK as in the Ballast is OK....then I would, PERSONALLY, do the tube if you want a "No hassle...no rewire" approach. BUT, if the ballast fails, then you have two options.....upgrade to the T8 Direct 12 VDC LED or go with the retrofit Array strips....

I think that is correct....but others might differ.....whatever works for you....as this did for me....

Hope this helps clear it up. My DW worked inside the MH cleaning after our trip. This was after I changed out ALL the ones that we used. She is ELATED....I guess that cool white and MORE illumination is more of a necessity as you get a little older...

CHECK ON YOUR BALLASTS....  IF your light fixture has a "T8 Bulb requirement", ODDS ARE...but NOT GUARANTEED, that you have an electronic ballast...Mine WORK. I KNOW that if you gutted the harness or the wiring that you could get to that is exposed, you would find a "Ground" or the Negative 12VDC. I THINK that the middle terminal of the switch MAY be the positive 12 VDC and the end is the switched. So, if you found both the positive and negative, then you could pull the tube and probably install the strips. I chose NOT to do that....but if I have issues, then that will be my next step.

Hope this clarifies some things. If anyone contacts Optronics and they can get the ballast info, that would be helpful....PLEASE POST...

Thanks,

 

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Excellent information. I haven't converted the MH fluorescents (yet) simply because our living area has 24 other ceiling and under cab lights that are all LEDs. Bedroom and bathroom are similar. 

FYI At home our high usage lights are LEDs which use 6.7x less power. In 2020 I wanted to leave the outside lights on at night for extra security. The LED cost savings per year for 3 60W lights was $65. The cost of the LEDs and switch timer was paid for in 6 months. The timer turns them on at sunset and off at sunrise. 

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5 hours ago, Tom Cherry said:

Jeff, Gary and Dennis.... EDITED 10:00 Eastern

I should have used the original DISCLAIMER that Colonel Duckwitz always quoted when giving information on our Motorhomes.  Monaco NEVER made two alike. Purchasing ruled and Monaco would switch vendors for a penny. In addition, Monaco used whatever was "available" when the MH was made....which could be 3 year old items....especially in the last 18 months before the bankruptcy. (see this for HISTORY....which was discussed MORE on the original site...  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monaco_Coach_Corporation  )

Having said that, this is what I have found...

ThinLine and Optronics were two of the brands used. I THINK that Optronics bought out a company named LiteCo. There are posts on ETrailer about the "LiteCo 179" and it being 100% NON FIELD Serviceable. I tried to contact Optronics yesterday, but they were closed.....so here is what I know....as well as THINK...

LiteCo 179 was a fixture used by Monaco in "some?" 2005 models of HR. NOW....was that used in all 2005's and was that also used in both  Eugene, OR and Elkhart, IN? God ONLY knows. For a while, the same "model" was made in both and there were MAJOR differences...

Mine are Optronics 179 with a manufacturing date of late 2007. If you go here, this is shows the fixture from all sides.

https://rvinteriors.visonerv.com/cgi-bin/md/M361167/s7.pl  If you keep clicking on the picture, it will toggle between 6 or 7 views. That is what I have....mine were made within days of the one in the picture.

LOOK CAREFULLY at the construction, especially the bulb end caps and the back. This unit is NON SERVICABLE. There are requests for a replacement ballast on the various forums, but I did NOT find an answer. The bulb end caps are pop riveted (long ones) to a bracket. That bracket is then pop riveted to the back of the fixture. The Ballast is pop riveted to the back of the fixture. There is NOT ONE SCREW used in the assembly. Probably to prevent vibration loosening or maybe cheaper as the metal parts are stamped and punched and painted. The ballast is under the reflector. The reflector is held in place or "sandwiched" and does not appear to come apart...without drilling out the rivets from the back side.

There are also posts on other forums and the dimensions (back side fitted into roof) MAY not be compatible with later fixtures....but you might find an LED one that is totally surface mounted and does not have the fixture recessed into the ceiling. IF I get INFO from Optronics, I will post.

BOTTOM LINE....THEY WORK. I have 12 VDC Lights....NOT 115 VAC. Mine are Electronic, OR THAT IS MY ASSUMPTION.  One does NOT always watch and do high speed photography on a light fixture. I have TWO fixtures with older bulbs, which I keep turned off. The light comes ON instantly and then a few milliseconds later, it sort of "ramps up" and reaches full illumination. You have to watch it several times to pick up the transition. Therefore, I assumed mine are INSTANT ON. 

Having said that, I surveyed my three main home fluorescent fixtures. TWO, that I replaced, that were "Electronic" appear to be totally "instant on" in that there is no change in the light output. One is the same as in the MH. On with maybe 80% illumination and then instantly brightens to full power.

SO....the Optronics (179) that I have are the "two step".  I remember that some members in the older forum stated that if you allowed the tubes to go bad or flicker or have issues that could damage the ballast. True or NOT....I don't know. But, I decided NOT to push them and replaced them when they flickered or went out or had "internal burn marks".

OK....I MIGHT be living on borrowed time....but when I turn on the LED's they do NOT have the pause or two step operation. They light instantly to full power.

EDIT....

Called Optronics....they are "Researching" it and the techs may have been in HS when this was made. The lamp requirement is a F15T8. The T8 were 99%, from what I read, ELECTRONIC. There were two types....the Rapid (may have a pause as there is a preheat circuit) and the Instant Start. Here is a paper on that...

https://www.halcolighting.com/pdf/WP/T8-IS-Retrofit.pdf

Bottom line....Rapid Start gives you longer BULB LIGHT....as the INSTANT START gives you Shorter (higher voltage on start up....particularly bad where the light is turned on and off frequently). BOTH ARE ELECTRONIC. The GE Bulbs require an ELECTRONIC BALLAST....so if your fixtures have T8's in them....then "ODDS ARE", not guaranteed, that the GE's will work with them. 

NEXT THING....I did find out a bit more.  If you are NOT into adhesive arrays, then there is a "Direct" retrofit LED tube. It is about 2X the cost of the GE's....but MAY be available elsewhere cheaper. Here is the INSTALL for it....

http://m4sales.com/InstallT8.pdf

Basically, you direct wire your T8 sockets to 12 VDC and you keep the same style and internal "look". As I said, the install in the Optronics would be to do some "probing" of the terminals. You need ONE SIDE of the fixture to be GROUND (both pins on each tube socket or only one....they are internally jumpered). The OTHER side MUST BE 12 VDC and same....only ONE pin or BOTH. Obviously both the end tube sockets must be Parallel wired....and if you don't know what that means.....do some research before you disassemble and cut wiring.  The use of the side switch is optional, but I would do it.

SO>>>>>>as LONG as your fixtures WORK as in the Ballast is OK....then I would, PERSONALLY, do the tube if you want a "No hassle...no rewire" approach. BUT, if the ballast fails, then you have two options.....upgrade to the T8 Direct 12 VDC LED or go with the retrofit Array strips....

I think that is correct....but others might differ.....whatever works for you....as this did for me....

Hope this helps clear it up. My DW worked inside the MH cleaning after our trip. This was after I changed out ALL the ones that we used. She is ELATED....I guess that cool white and MORE illumination is more of a necessity as you get a little older...

CHECK ON YOUR BALLASTS....  IF your light fixture has a "T8 Bulb requirement", ODDS ARE...but NOT GUARANTEED, that you have an electronic ballast...Mine WORK. I KNOW that if you gutted the harness or the wiring that you could get to that is exposed, you would find a "Ground" or the Negative 12VDC. I THINK that the middle terminal of the switch MAY be the positive 12 VDC and the end is the switched. So, if you found both the positive and negative, then you could pull the tube and probably install the strips. I chose NOT to do that....but if I have issues, then that will be my next step.

Hope this clarifies some things. If anyone contacts Optronics and they can get the ballast info, that would be helpful....PLEASE POST...

Thanks,

 

Thanks Tom

So

This is the label on my living room, hall, and bed room. fixtures:

image.thumb.png.68fca3d36973adc78143b3441369a767.png

Below is the ballast/starter?  Is this an electronic ballast/starter I am more familiar with the old school "black boxes".  The black wire is 12VDC positive from the switch the white is 12VDVC negative.  I measured the voltage on a working light and there is 12v across black and white.  There is 12v across the blue and red at the bottom of the picture.  Interestingly in the living room which has 3 lights there was 8.5 volts with the other 2 lights on, 10.5 with 1 light on and 13.8 with no other lights on.  I was surprised by the voltage drop.  One fixture wasn't working and the voltage across the red and blue at the bottom would start at 10.9 and then drop to almost nothing in 10 seconds.  So I will go out on a limb and say the ballast/starter is shot. 

image.thumb.png.d2894508ce1ff9dcfedd9fcb3cb3d8a0.png

So Tom, simply stated you have 120VAc bulbs in 12VDC fixtures (likely with electronic ballast) and they work.  Out of curiosity would a 120VAC fixture's ballast use a transformer to change the voltage to 12VDC? 

At that price it is worth a try at the very least.  Now to find them in Canada.

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  • Tom Cherry changed the title to LED Conversion of Fluorescent Tubes - READ CAREFULLY... NOT as SIMPLE or CHEAPER??....
22 minutes ago, Jeff H said:

Thanks Tom

So

This is the label on my living room, hall, and bed room. fixtures:

image.thumb.png.68fca3d36973adc78143b3441369a767.png

Below is the ballast/starter?  Is this an electronic ballast/starter I am more familiar with the old school "black boxes".  The black wire is 12VDC positive from the switch the white is 12VDVC negative.  I measured the voltage on a working light and there is 12v across black and white.  There is 12v across the blue and red at the bottom of the picture.  Interestingly in the living room which has 3 lights there was 8.5 volts with the other 2 lights on, 10.5 with 1 light on and 13.8 with no other lights on.  I was surprised by the voltage drop.  One fixture wasn't working and the voltage across the red and blue at the bottom would start at 10.9 and then drop to almost nothing in 10 seconds.  So I will go out on a limb and say the ballast/starter is shot. 

image.thumb.png.d2894508ce1ff9dcfedd9fcb3cb3d8a0.png

So Tom, simply stated you have 120VAc bulbs in 12VDC fixtures (likely with electronic ballast) and they work.  Out of curiosity would a 120VAC fixture's ballast use a transformer to change the voltage to 12VDC? 

At that price it is worth a try at the very least.  Now to find them in Canada.

 

See the recent posts. You have SEVERAL choices....

Call Thin-lite and see if you can purchase the older ballast. Ask them what type they are....but I would suspect that they are the same style as mine. IF you have some new bulbs in a fixture that is working.....let it cool down or be off for a while. Then turn it on....if it is a two step process, then it is probably NOT electronic.

Then you can do one of the following....save buying a NEW fixture, assuming it will fit.  Optronics changed the fixture dimensions, or at least I was told that.

Retrofit with the "Stick on" array style. All you have to do is to identify Positive and Negative. I can't even see my ballast....much less remove it without pulling down the fixture and drilling out pop rivets.

Retrofit to an electronic 12 VDC Ballast. Then the GE bulbs should work. That is assuming that there is such an animal and Thin-Lite should be able to tell you.

Retrofit to the straight wired 12VDC tubes. They are twice as expensive....but you do not need a ballast....

Let us know what you find out from Thin-Lite.....that helps us all.

 

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Jim,

Thanks.  I clicked and then did an Amazon search. About the same price. If I had to GUESS, I would say that these will work better (maybe mandatory from the Amazon ratings and questions) after you bypass the Ballast. Some folks were not happy as these are more "focused", even though frosted and do not give off a "general" or totally diffused light....such as what I require as my lights are all overhead...

https://www.amazon.com/Fulight-Rotatable-Equivalent-Daylight-Double-End/dp/B01JINP28E/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=12v%2Bled%2Brotatable%2B18"%2Btube&qid=1629912818&sr=8-2&th=1

I decided to invest in two new fluorescent bulbs as the ones that are suspect are dimming.  I have found from experience that if you replace them in pairs, they seem to work. If one if a little dimmer and the other is gone or really dim, I throw the bad one away and "store" the not so bad in an unused fixture....and then I can use it in an emergency....

If someone is getting a full 700 Lumens (the Fluorescent standard for an F15T8) .....as well as what is advertised for these from an ARRAY....I would appreciate the info and the review...

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OK....curiosity is a plague....worse than COVID....here is what I have found.....

Amazon is the cheapest for the F15T8 18" Tubes. Camco (RV Supplier) has a twin pack (2) for $14 and Lowes is $9 or so....EACH.

Amazon also has a bulk pack of SIX (6) of  the 12" tubes for $14.  Lowes is $9 or so EACH.  Guess what I just ordered?

OK.....BUT, I also got curious....and I would like for the "LED ARRAY CONVERSION" folks to chime in here.

What type of Array do you use....

An 18" Two fixture F15 T8 will deliver 1400 Lumens (700 X 2 bulbs).  An 12" two fixture F8T5 will deliver 800 Lumens (400 X 2).

Some of the ones that I looked at would require TWO STRIPS per Tube reflector or 4 strips per total fixture....as the max was 330 Lumens per foot. 
So, if you have some specifics...that would be great.  OTHERWISE, please comment on my calculations. The 330 Lumens were higher....so I found one that was close and MUCH cheaper....

https://www.ledsupply.com/led-strips/non-waterproof-12v-led-strips

These are the ones that I think would work. Two strips....side by side would be about 3/4" wide and fit on the reflectors above the 1" diameter tubes....so that WORKS...

NOW....the rated Lumens per Ft (converted from 1050 Lumens per Meter) for the 60's is 325 Lumens per foot.  OK....you need 1400 Lumens....so you need 4.31 ft or 52".  Divided by 4 strips would be 13". OPPS....these can be cut in 2" lengths....but you can solder leads and keep going....  Has to be a number divided by 2....

14" would be the length for each of the 4 strips required per fixture.  so you need 56" per fixture....and the light output would be (56" divided by 12) based on 4.66 Ft or 1517 lumens ( 4.67 X 325). SO, you have about 8% MORE light.....COOL...

The 12" is as follows....  400 X 2 tubes = 800 lumens.  Divided by 325 = 2.46 Ft or 30 inches. OPPS.... got to be divided by 4....so 8" would be the length for all 4 strips

Lumen would be 2.67 Ft X 325 Lumens per foot or 868 Lumens or again, about 8% more light..

Therefore....I have FOUR 18's and FOUR 12's....  4 X 56" = 224" or 18.67 Ft

Now....for the 12's....have FOUR also....  4 X 32" = 128" or 10.67 Ft.   NOW, I need a total of 29.34 ft....or 8.94 Meters.....

They come in 5 Meter or 16.4 FT....I need TWO reels....or $80 worth of strips.

I BELIEVE I can solder wire leads (#18 or 20 would work FINE....maybe smaller....but I like reasonable sized leads). I can use the Blue ScotchLok connections and do a flying tap on each lead (positive and negative) in the fixture or I can cut and use wire nuts....I will need to clip the Positive Lead to the Ballast to shut it down....but I can leave the slide switch in place...

Comments, Corrections.....

Hope this is of value.....

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 I have not had good luck with the LED strips… many chips stop working in a couple hundred hours. I have a light fixture over the sink with three of 18” fluorescent in it plus another four fluorescent elsewhere. Now that they have some age on them I'm replacing a bulb every couple months so decided to change one over to LED using 48 SMD 5050 LED Panels. Drilled the four pop rivets out to remove the guts of the Fluorescent. There were two ridges that holds the metal cover over these guts. By finding a small enough wire I was able to slide the wire into these notches making for a neat way to hold the wires that power the LED panels. I put four of the LED panels in (peal and stick after cleaning alum surface) and used the existing switch and 12v wires. I would say four LED panels put out the same amount of light as the two 15W bulbs. While I had the cover off the fixture, I drilled a hole under each switch in the translucent plastic panels so I can turn each on/off without taking the cover off. This will let me use just the new LEDs (while boondocking) or one or both of the fluorescent. 
Sorry... No pictures but sliding the new wires into the notches and putting the four LED panels where the guts came from made for a neat and simple DIY project. I would space the four panels evenly over the 18" starting with one at each end. 

Edited by Ivylog
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I emailed Thin Lite. Below is my request and their answer. i took a very quick look at the website she suggested and they have most if not all of Thin Lite's products as well as some LED replacement bulbs and strips.

My Message to Thin Lite:
Good Morning I have a 2006 Monaco Diplomat with 8 of your 746 fluorescent fixtures. One of the ballasts has stopped working. I have some questions:

1. is there a replacement ballast available and is the fixture field serviceable?

2. Are the ballasts used in 2005 electronic?

3. is there a direct replacement bulb that will work without rewiring?

                                                                                                                                                                           

Thin-Lite Sales <sales@thinlite.com>

Aug 25, 2021, 11:19 AM (19 hours ago)
to me
Yes there is a replacement ballast. You can send the light fixture in for repair.
Repair cost

$25.00 for the repair
$13.00 shipping
$7.00 shipping for 2 or more fixtures.

If you would like to purchase ballast please contact
World Wide Lite 1-800-247-6324
WWW.WORLDWIDELITE.COM
 
Tammy Collins.
Thin-Lite Corporation
805-987-5021
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                     
 
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I have not read thru all the posts, but this is what I’ve done with my last two coaches. The last photo does not have the oblique cover installed. I have the info of what I used. The ballasts were left in place and just bypassed after the switch on the fixture. 

85A180EA-3C16-46F3-A713-8C4A43986596.jpeg

80AFA92D-92B5-4BCC-AE8A-CB708BFDD28D.jpeg

E4801ACA-2523-4224-A1A0-7A7502D5A1F0.jpeg

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On 8/23/2021 at 7:09 AM, veraken said:

Not sure these will work on a 12V system.  Went to your Lowes link and looked at the Q&A/Reviews for this product (18") and found this:

"You are correct, our LED tubes are not compatible with every ballast, and they are not compatible with 12-volt RV ballasts. For any future issues/questions, please don't hesitate to call us directly at 1-800-435-4448; we'll be glad to assist."

GE Lighting, a Savant company

Works on my 12 volt lights so far.  They are nice.  Thanks Tom for finding the GE LED Tubes, I put two of the 12" ones in the sink light and two in the porch light.

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I also used the LED strip lights in my coach. I converted every light in my coach 3 years ago and haven't had to touch any of them since. On my first try I got the wrong color temp LEDs and it was way too blue. The ones I ended up with were a perfect match to the florescent. You can make therm more or less bright depending on how many rows you use. I think I did 4 rows and they seem a little brighter the florescent. I removed all the ballasts. Here are the links to the parts on Amazon, pretty inexpensive since one roll will do several lights.

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y67D1JH/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DM7HCAI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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5 hours ago, Hypoxia said:

Works on my 12 volt lights so far.  They are nice.  Thanks Tom for finding the GE LED Tubes, I put two of the 12" ones in the sink light and two in the porch light.

Jim,

Thanks....

CURIOSITY....if you go back to my first post, I have pictures of the OPTRONICS fixtures. The later posts showed the Thin-lite, I assumed.

Could you look at your fixtures some time and see if they are Optronics (will have a single SILVER reflector....the Thin-Lites, I assume, have painted ones.

You NEVER know which one Monaco put in.  If you can take a photo of the Brand and Model number, that would be great....

Sometimes what ain't SUPPOSED TO WORK....does....

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