Flourecent static on fm radio

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Forum topic by Boberto posted 03-14-2018 10:49 PM 873 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 1570 days

03-14-2018 10:49 PM

I have 8 4foot double t-8 flourecent lights in my 24’x30’ shop and get so much static on my radio I don’t even try to listen to it. If I shut the lights off there is no static.Would changing these fixtures out to led bulbs solve my problem and if so how do I do that?
Thanks for any suggestions.

12 replies so far

View clin's profile


1075 posts in 1598 days

#1 posted 03-14-2018 11:06 PM

Swapping out will almost certainly solve the problem. While I do not believe that all florescent lights create interference, you seem to have established that yours do. Probably coming from the ballast. It is possible you have some other problem. Like poor wiring, or improper grounding. Could just be one bad ballast.

There are several ways to change out to LEDs (or were, I haven’t looked in a few years). There are LED bulbs that are drop in replacements for florescents that still use the ballasts. You of course wouldn’t want something like that since I think you should get away from your ballasts. Plus, while this is easiest to do, ballasts are one of the things that fail and are expensive to replace. So why keep them.

With the more common replacement, you bypass (remove) the ballasts. The LED bulbs are designed to work off standard 120 Vac.

The other of course is to replace the entire fixture with a new LED version. This is also very popular and I’m sure some will chime it with specific suggestions. It may actually be cheaper. These are getting much cheaper now. Still more than a florescent fixture, but more like 2X the price.

There is another option which is how more elegant LED lighting is done. The light fixtures are just the LEDS. The power supply needed to run them is not built in. Instead, a separate power supply is used that runs multiply fixtures. This is probably not the way to go in a shop.

-- Clin

View mamell's profile


55 posts in 1486 days

#2 posted 03-14-2018 11:22 PM

I scrapped out the fluorescent lights for the relatively inexpensive led fixtures from the bastion of over priced stuff, HD.. I currently have only 2, but since they can all be run together (sorry, the term ‘series’ temporarily escaped me till I wrote this) I’m confident that i can keep adding more lights as time and money allows or when I manage to remember (whichever comes first)
The thing I love about them besides the obvious is being able to flip the wall switch and they all come on without having to keep fiddling around with the switch until they work..I suspect I’ll put two more in the shop, one directly over the TS and one above the area I have the lions share of my tools stashed..

-- Never underestimate the power of the history of sliced bread. Sliced bread is still the greatest thing since sliced bread.

View LesB's profile


2301 posts in 4045 days

#3 posted 03-14-2018 11:24 PM

I have the 8’ fluorescent tubes and no static or RF noise as it is called (RFI means radio frequency interference)
I tried the 8’ LED tube lights as replacements and the RFI was bad on them. The brand was Hyperikon. I got the 120 volt LED tubes that go into a fluorescent fixture but you re-wire and bypass the transformer. They gave great light but I like to listen to the radio so I took them out and went back to my fluorescent. Now, part of my problem is I live in a rural area and the radio signals I prefer to listen to are weak so it doesn’t take much to over power them. When I tuned to a strong station (not one I would listen to) I had negligible loss due to RFI noise.

I have 4’ LED tube (fluorescent type) fixtures in my house and I took the shop radio in next to those and got no RFI interference or only minor RFI when I got very close…a foot or so.

You can try adding Ferrite Core Filter to the wires in the fluorescent fixture. You may have seen them fastened on the cords of some power tools. They are inexpensive. This did not help my LED lights problem. There are also inline filters (wired in the circuit) but they are expensive.

The problem may be the quality of the fluorescent lights you installed so replacing them with better FCC compliant lights may help. If I were going to do that I would go ahead get LED replacements. Buy one or two and see if they are OK then replace the others. The LEDs will last longer, use less power, and start right up and not flicker if the shop is cold.

If you elect to go with LEDs do a little research. There are two things to be aware of the Kelvin or brightness and the Lumens. Kelvin ranges from the 3000s which is close to the “yellow” light of incandescent lights and 5000 which is bright as sunlight. I like the 3700 to 4000 range for the shop. Lumens is how much light they emit. For a 4’ dual tube fixture you want at least 4000 Lumens. You can also convert your current fluorescent fixture to LED. There are some that just are just direct replacements for the fluorescent tubes and others like I tried that use 120v LED tubes and you rewire the fixture.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Lee's profile


140 posts in 1480 days

#4 posted 03-14-2018 11:54 PM

I replaced the 8 florescents in my shop with LED, what a difference, here is a link to the fixtures I got, about $27 apiece, they come in a 4 pack for $109 and free shipping.

-- Colombia Custom Woodworking

View bonesbr549's profile


1586 posts in 3669 days

#5 posted 03-15-2018 12:47 AM

if you want to keep the fl lights swich out your balasts to electronic ones. They are not cheep but the hum will go away and so will the interference. Depending on the light spectrum you want, ydou could switch out to led, but that won’t be as natural.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View clin's profile


1075 posts in 1598 days

#6 posted 03-15-2018 01:44 AM

if you want to keep the fl lights swich out your balasts to electronic ones. They are not cheep but the hum will go away and so will the interference. Depending on the light spectrum you want, ydou could switch out to led, but that won t be as natural.

- bonesbr549

LED are available in many spectrums as are fluorescent lights. I agree that a good electronic ballast may solve his problem.

And also, a bad (noisy) power supply on an LED may be no better or worse than what he has. LEDs are similar to florescent lights in that they generally do not run directly off 120 Vac power. They need some sort of power supply or converter to change the 120 Vac to what the LEDs need. As with fluorescent ballasts, LED power supplies/converters can also be low quality and electrically noisy.

I’d certainly be prepared to buy and test one before buying all of them.

-- Clin

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2208 posts in 2096 days

#7 posted 03-15-2018 02:19 AM

+1 change ballast – ballasts leaking large amounts of FRI is an indication of pending failure.

An old electricians trick to find bad ballast in 8’ lights without a ladder before they failed in large retail stores:
Would listen to a battery powered radio under each light looking for higher levels of interference. There was noticeable increase in static under any light with failing ballast. When the fixture was opened, half time would find the ballast was showing signs of overheating, with melted or dry/cracked wiring.

#2 – Radio may be old (failing noise filter capacitors), cheap (never had filter capacitors), or really sensitive to 120Hz RFI from ballast.
a) Move radio location, RFI noise is distance based
b) Try using a different radio to see if your ballast are going bad, or if radio has issues.
b) Make sure lights and radio are not using same power circuit. Again reflected RFI from ballast on the wiring.
c) Shield the radio. As dumb as this may sound, double up some aluminum foil, and warp it around the radio to see RFI reduces.

Best Luck!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View torus's profile


382 posts in 1015 days

#8 posted 03-15-2018 12:33 PM

Week ago I had to replace garage door opener. New one (Genie brand) come with recommendation do not use LED bulb on the motor because “it will interfere with remote opener signal”. Genie, of course, sells LEDs without radio signal interference.

Just a food for your thought…

-- "It's getting better..." - put this on my RIP stone!

View splintergroup's profile


3195 posts in 1824 days

#9 posted 03-15-2018 06:46 PM

Good suggestions here!
I’d check out your ballasts first, replacing with new iron cores or going with electronic ballasts.
Electronic has the potential for even greater RFI given they switch at a high frequency and often are not constructed with RFI suppression as a primary (or even secondary) goal. Price is typically not a good indicator of RFI performance unfortunately. At a minimum, make sure any electronic ballasts you select have a FCC Class B certification.

I’m a big fan of the “drop in” LED tubes since you can reuse your fixture. I always bypass the ballast since this will eliminate a significant point of power loss.

Be aware that LED tubes can have the same issues as electronic ballasts. The cheap versions can have poorly designed power supplies that will also generate a lot of RFI. Look for a FCC Class B listing here as well.

View Boberto's profile


21 posts in 1570 days

#10 posted 03-16-2018 01:36 AM

Had an electrician buddy come help figure out what to do this evening. We determined it is the lights that are causing the problem and not the shop wiring. He is looking into a couple of ideas to see what it will cost to hopefully solve the problem. Thanks for your help.

View caboxmaker's profile


280 posts in 990 days

#11 posted 03-16-2018 01:56 AM

Do you have WiFi in the shop? Go with Internet music…

View joey502's profile


558 posts in 2120 days

#12 posted 03-16-2018 01:53 PM

I would agree that a bluetooth speaker and phone app would be a cost effective remedy. It also adds a world of listening possibilities.

I have been slowly phasing out linear florescent lamps. I decided on the led lamps that fit in my 4’ fixtures after cutting out the ballast. I have been happy so far.

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