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Insight - How Tubelight Starter works

Table of Contents:

  1. Insight - How Tubelight Starter works
  2. Key Components
  3. Capacitor

Written By: 

Ashok Sharma


Fluorescent lights are among the most popular lighting system used worldwide. Fluorescent tubes/lamps are filled with mercury vapor. They use electric charge to excite mercury atoms in order to produce ultra violet light. A glow starter or commonly known as starter is used in the tube light circuit to provide an initial current to filaments of the tube light. To understand the purpose exactly why a starter is used in the tube light circuit, let’s look into its circuit.
Tube Light, Fluorescent Lamp Circuit
When the switch is pressed current cannot pass through the tube initially because the gas inside it is not ionized and hence the tube light circuit behaves as open circuit. Once the gas is ionized, it will provide a conduction path for the current to flow. In order to ionize the gas, an initial high current is required for a short period across the filaments of the main tube. That is what a starter does. A starter initially provides a path to complete the circuit and once tube light starts the current flows through the ionized gas in the main tube.
Tube Light, Fluorescent Starter
The above image shows a typical starter connected in parallel with the florescent lamp.
Tubelight Starter pins
It is a cylindrical can with two terminals, as shown in the above pictures. These two terminals are used to electrically connect the starter with the rest of the circuit.



Really nice explanation.....

crisp n clear


Useful info.Thanks

nice explanation.

nice explaination


Very simple :)

well described .. just one round of reading is enough to catch the content ...

very well explained.

Nice explination
Not good very short need more explanation about choke
Not good very short need more explanation about choke
Not good very short need more explanation about choke
Not good very short need more explanation about choke

The capacitor welds the bimetal driven contacts, stopping the plasma heating in the starter. The bimetal cools tensioning the (minute) weld. The weld is passing the ballast's current modulating it's temperature and in turn the tension for the weld to fail. This will lag the current (squared) heating by about 1ms.  This ensures a substantial current in the ballast at the time, so a rapidly rising voltage ionises the fluorescent tube. This seems to be lost knowledge; I was told this by a supervisor of making the starter tubes at Phillip's Adelaide works mid January 1960. 




I have become more appreciative of fluorescent tubes. Thank you. 

What's the logic of S10...
Sorry not explained well.
Why does tube light blink? After starting

i still hve not seen a complete explaination of how it works

best explained
like it

How does the initial current is supplied by starter what mechanism?

Super Sir,


thankyou very much for such amazing explanation. I am a student of NIT uttrakhand , and love electronics. thank you sir.l.

can you please provide information about the components of the starter and its working....btw the above content was awesome

nice explanation


so what device is it, a capacitor?