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OT - Metal Halide vs. T8 Flourescent for new pole barn... pro's & con's

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Old 01-05-2004, 05:48 PM
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Question OT - Metal Halide vs. T8 Flourescent for new pole barn... pro's & con's

I'm in the process of installing lighting in my 30 X 40 boat/car storage/shop building. It has 11' clearance from floor to joists. I came across a bunch of used 175W metal halide fixtures for $10 each from an old shopping mall. They all work, but some need bulbs. I also have a bunch of standard T-12 flourescent fixtures that I can use, but they are the older magnetic ballasts instead of electronic.

My question - would it be worthwhile to install the metal halides? I have six of them. I realize that they take 5 - 10 minutes to warm up, but I could use the flourescents to have immediate light when I just need to get in there for a few minutes. My main concern is cold weather performance, since as of yet the shop is unheated. That is why I have been considering a new set of T-8 flourescents with cold-weather electronic ballasts. I think I can get 4-footer's new with bulbs for around $22 each.

Do MH's have problems running in, say 35* temps?

If I go with the T-8's, how many of them will I need to get enough light for 1200 SF?

Just asking if any of you have experience with the MH's, and your opinions of them.

Thanks!
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Old 01-05-2004, 05:57 PM
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I believe they will strike, but some may be dimmer. I seem to recall them buzzing more too. A higher frequency and louder buzz than a cold flourescent. There may or may not be cold starting fixtures for outside use. Hey, for $10 a hit, you really won't lose. Besides, the light would be awsome come summer!

BTW-I'd plan on relamping all of them. The MH's are like the flourescents in that the light output decreases over the bulb's life. It's especially critical with the MH's as the bulb will start to pull too many amps causing the ballast to over heat. This is why some street lights kick off and then try to restrike. Eventually the ballast will burn out from the overload.

Do you know what the bay height is?

For the T8's, plan on setting them in rows, 10-15' apart. Look for an industrial reflector that will give you 100% down light.

Last edited by Cord; 01-05-2004 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 01-06-2004, 01:14 PM
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Thanks for the reply, Cord.

The bay height is only about 11'; hopefully that won't be too close.

I found a website online selling 175 watt MH bulbs for around $13. That makes it a bit more affordable.

Anyone else have any experience with the metal halides?
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Old 01-06-2004, 01:33 PM
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Budman, go with the electronic ballasts if you can. My pole barn is also 30X40, I have either 14' or 16' to the bottom of my trusses. I went with (4) 8' long fixtures -(4 bulbs in each fixture). They do a GREAT job lighting the area. But, cold weather....... I thought because they are called "cold weather" ballasts, they still turn on like summer time..... NOT! They do come on instantly, but the colder the temp, the dimmer they start. They will warm up to full brightness, but it takes a while. Also, they are silent with no flicker. If they behave like this in the cold, I can only imagine what the older ones do.

My $.02
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Old 01-06-2004, 03:22 PM
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I run a large commercial electrical company in DC and would go without a doubt with the Metal halide fixtures. To answer your question no they dont have any problem running in cold temp. its what they are designed to do. I would install one or two of the t-8 zero degree ballast fixtures by the entrance for quick light. The only other issue is that you said you got them from a shopping mall, if they are a "hi-bay" fixture then they probabley are not the best application for 11' AFF. You really cant go wrong at that price ,I think the 8 foot 4 lamp "zero degree" ballast fixture w/ lamps is going to cost you easily over $100.00 each. Juast a thought, hope I helped you.
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Old 01-06-2004, 03:39 PM
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Thanks for the replies!

Spicy, do you think that 6 of the MH fixtures will be enough for 1200 sq ft, or should I pick up a couple more? They were mounted about 18 feet off the ground, so I hope they will still work OK at 11 feet in my garage.

I also have about 12 4-foot T12 fixtures that I can use for auxiliary lighting. Or I could just sell them.

All of this stuff was so cheap that I couldn't pass it up. I wish I had more time on my hands to scavenge a bunch more out of there. They are going to demolish the place in about a week, and there must be hundreds of lighting fixtures in there, from metal halides to 4 & 8-foot flourescents to track lighting. Lots of nice shelving too. I could have some fun on eBay...
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Old 01-06-2004, 03:52 PM
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I scavanged a ton of lights from a department store they where gutting next to my shop... They where throwing EVERYTHING out.. didnt care what was in it.. I got like 20-25 light fixtures out for free with bulbs and balasts(4 light, 4 feet long for a drop down celing). I sold em for 20 each. Not bad for some spending cash, and like an hour of my time.

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Old 01-06-2004, 04:03 PM
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How bright do you want it? In a 1500 sqft wash bay we will put in 3 400watt fixtures. That's freekin' bright. Your 6 fixtures will be just a little dimmer. This will be a very nice level to work under. With the bay heights being so low, you may experience some problems with shadows. Something to consider. You also don't need to have all the fixtures on at once. You can put them on two or more circuits.

Also please check the voltage of the fixtures. I'd guess that they are 277volts, but they could be 480volt.
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Old 01-06-2004, 04:09 PM
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Cord, they will work at either 120 or 277 volt. I hooked them up as 120 V when I tested them.

I figure if I have any problems with shadows I can kick on the flourescents to fill in. I do plan to run several circuits for the lighting so that I can select which "zone" of the shop I want to light. I figure I can kick on the MH's when I am painting and want it to be really bright. I might even pick up a couple of the 4'x2' 4-bulb flourescents that have the plastic covers for the sidewalls - these would be nice in a spray booth.

Like I said, I wish I had more time to scavenge! My wife keeps humming the theme song from "Sanford and Son" when i come around. I wonder why?
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Old 01-06-2004, 05:21 PM
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Most of the HID lighting in this day and age is multi tap so you shouldnt have a problem. The 6 lights will be fine the only thing you will have a problem with is the 11AFF light height. Two things ,you will have shadowing as Budman mentioned and they may even blind you from being mounted to low. This sounds stupid but to much light is worst then not enough, if you cant see to the other side of the fixture. Light placement will be key, as to light say both sides of the boat, keep the fixtures to the outside of the walls of the structure instead of equally spacing them or running them down the middle. good Luck!!!!
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