A light starter does the job of helping a lamp light. It’s mainly used with fluorescent lamps where it preheats the bulb’s electrodes and produces an ignition pulse. This device consumes a little power and stores it in so that it can operate again next time you switches on the light. High-quality starters for fluorescent tubes can survive through a minimum of 40,000 switching on/off operations.
A starter switch for fluorescent light works with some inductor type ballasts to help a fluorescent lamp to operate. It helps the bulb to get started while the ballast regulates and controls the flow of current into the light.
How Do Starters for Fluorescent Tubes Look?
Typically, a tube light starter looks like a cylindrical can with two terminals. The tubing is filled with a small amount of gas (neon in most cases), and a suppression capacitor connected to the two terminals.
You have to install them in parallel with the lamp and the two terminal pins connect it to the rest of the circuit.
The Working Principle of Starters for Fluorescent Tubes
Unlike an incandescent bulb, a tube light does not have a tungsten filament that will heat up and produce light. Instead, it contains mercury vapor inside its globe or tube-like body. The vapor generates ultraviolet light when ionized by electricity. There’s a coating on the interior that glows when comes in contact with the UV light.
When you switches on a fluorescent light, the stream of current flows from the main power supply to the bulb. The starter allows the electric charge to reach the filaments at the end of the tube. The starter turns into an open switch after its contacts are heated up and interrupt the current flow. After that, the ballast starts controlling the stream of electricity, so the low-resistant fluorescent tube is not burnt out.
The starters for fluorescent tubes act as a closed switch when you turn the light on. The heated up filaments generate a cloud of electrons inside the tube. The starter opens after one second or two and then allows the voltage to run through the tube. As a result, the electrons get charged up and ionize the mercury vapor.
Without using the light starters, the lamp will flicker because are no steady stream electrons inside the tube. On the other hand, the ballast is equally important too as, without this device, the high voltage will either evaporate the filaments or cause the lamp to blast.
Starters are used with various types of fluorescent lamps. All the starters are interchangeable, which means you can use the same model with all kids of tube lights. However, the wattage rating of the light and the starter should match for the former to perform reliably for a long time.