Use special motion-activated switches rated for electronic (rather than magnetic) ballasts in most new fluorescent lights. Check the ballast in your light fixture and read the fine print on the switch packaging to make sure you buy the right switch.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:September 2005
Example of a motion-activated switch for fluorescents with electronic ballasts.
If you bought a motion-activated switch for fluorescent lights in your garage or other locations and the lights didn't work, your switch is probably rated for incandescent lights and fluorescents with
magnetic ballasts. Unfortunately, it won't work with fluorescents that have
electronic ballasts, which are now common in better-quality fluorescent lights. (A
ballast is the small metal box that modulates voltage in a fluorescent fixture.) It's
irritating, but you have to read the fine print on the packaging to discover this
To find a switch that'll handle both types of ballasts, you'll probably have to go to
an electrical supply store (search online or in the yellow pages). Our example, the
Leviton model No. ODS15 (or ODS10), costs about $60. Most low-priced motion-activated
switches ($15) that you find at hardware stores and home centers aren't
rated for electronic ballasts.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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