Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why does a fluorescent light burn out?

  1. Feb 16, 2007 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    What causes a fluorescent light to stop working? Why can't the atoms in that gas keep jumping up and down forever?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    The two main reasons I know of usually deal with the balast that powers the bulb. As long as the powder and the mercury (or whatever it is now) are in the tube then it should last.

    One thing I have also heard is in reference to the ground plane. I remember being told once that, the old trick to get a fluorescent to work was to drag your hand along the tube length, was an attempt to resestablish the ground plane. I can't help you with that though. Maybe an EE might chime in.

    Check out here too: http://home.howstuffworks.com/fluorescent-lamp4.htm
  4. Feb 16, 2007 #3
    Let's not take into account the balast aging, I think one reason for a fluorescent not working is its filaments. When the filaments get weaker, they can not supply enough electron flux for the normal operation.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook