What are some common issues with conventional fluorescent vapor tight fixture applications?
There are several issues that owners of fluorescent vapor tight fixtures endure. Although the cost of the lamps themselves are very low, maintenance and performance issues often arise over time. Fluorescent lighting is designed to operate for a certain amount of time each time it is turned on, and thus fluorescent tubes tend to have shorter lifetimes. Further, the more frequently they are activated, the shorter the lifetime of the lamp. Fluorescent lamps are also susceptible to temperature fluctuations and under-perform in colder temperatures or wet/humid environments, which are common locations for vapor tight fixtures.
It is common for vapor tight light fixtures to utilize between one and four lamps per fixture. This means they may require approximately 40 to 160 watts for four feet fixtures and 192 watts for eight feet fixtures. A facility utilizing 100 fluorescent wet location fixtures can easily spend over $7,000 per year in electricity costs.
For fluorescent vapor tight fixtures, lighting maintenance is very dependent on the operational use of the lamps and fixtures. When operated in cold and wet environments, or operating in a scenario where the lamps are turned on and off frequently, lamp life and performance can degrade drastically in a short period of time. Every time a fluorescent lamp is turned on, it degrades the cathodes (the fluorescent lamp ignition system), resulting in a shorter operational life of the lamp. Lifetimes range from 10,000 to 30,000 hours for typical fluorescent tubes, and it can easily cost up to $24,000 over the course of three years to maintain the lighting in a space utilizing 100 fluorescent vapor tight fixtures.
The performance of enclosed and gasketed fixtures can vary based on the TYPE of lamp (T12 bulb, T8 bulb, T5 bulb, etc) used within fixture. CCT (correlated color temperature) and CRI (color rendering index) can also vary in quality depending on the manufacturer of the lamp. Ultimately, the performance of a vapor tight light fixture degrades significantly over time, and considering that wet-location fixtures utilize multiple lamps per fixture, you are left with lighting fixtures whose performance is dependent on how it is operated by individual locations, and the ability of individual component (the lamps and ballasts within the actual fixture) to maintain their peak performance. If a single lamp ceases to function properly within a multi-lamp fixture, the performance of the whole fixture is negatively affected.