Problem with light fixture/ballast. Shorted out?


New Member
Ok, so I am not an electrician just a plumber and now some exp. with masonary work.

Here is the deal. I was replacing UVB lights today. I flipped the first fixture over while still plugged in, replaced the tube and everything was fine. I went to my second fixture, turned it over to replace the tube and all of a sudden it started cracking, popping and smoking. I quickly shut off the surge protector it was plugged into and then unplugged the light. Being the curious person I am I opened the fixture up. I saw no visible to damage to wires outside the ballast. I then proceeded to take apart the ballast. I saw some melted stuff on the wires but it looks to just be the goop they secure the wires in there with. I cant find any bare spots on the casing that would have caused a short. Here are some pics. Anyone know what could have caused this? There was no water or humidity build up in the fixture or the ballast.

I usually take my lights apart every 6 months to make sure there are no bare spots on the wires. Especially basking lamps and I encourage everyone to do this. I had one short out on me one time because of how warm they get which dry rots the casings where they attach to the fixture. Its simple and not very time consuming to take them apart every 6 months, cut the wires back to the good casings and re wire them. This can save your chams life, your life and your house with only a few minutes of time.

Here are the pics of the ballast.





If anyone wants or needs closer pics let me know.
If you find out what caused this I'd be interested to know? I had something vey similar happen to a shop light in my garage. It looked to be the actual bulb smoking though and not the fixture or ballast, very strange. It was just an ordinary 6500 k or something similar fluoresccent bulb. Ive never had that happen to any of the chams fixtures before. It was an old shop light that this happened with me. It was there when i moved in, so i have no idea how old it was at the time. Kinda freaked me out if I hadnt smelled the smoke I think it could of caught fire. :eek:
That is pretty odd. Is there any way moisture from your misting got up in those areas? They look so very dirty. Like a combination of dust and residue. Good thing you discovered that, looks like a fire waiting to happen.
I dont use a misting system just the caveman style pump mister:eek: but sometimes a little water does get on the bottom part of the fixture. Also dealing with montane chameleons my cham room is always very humid. Never lower than 60% but usually around 70% daytime and higher at night. There was no visible moisture inside the fixture when I opened it up. About dust, its not very dusty in the room if at all but I would store the fixtures in my old garage when not in use.

I think its time to open up all my lights and clean them along with rewiring my basking lamps.

I do have twice as many fixtures as I need because of not having any babies around. I think I will swap the fixtures every week or so just in case it is the high humidity in the room.

Im not exactly sure but I would say the fixtures are around 2 years old.

My husband (an electrical engineer) says the capacitor in the ballast blew. It happens from being old or getting too hot. They just go after a while. Replace the ballast and you should be good to go!
Thank you Theresa!! The ballast was mighty hot even after opening it up 15 minutes later!

I hope the tavetana are still doing well for you:)
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