How often do you need to replace flash tubes?


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Oct 29, 2012
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Dunwoody, Georgia
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Maybe my expectations are too high, but I seem to blow flash tubes more often than I would think normal for a $35 or so item. I try to take proper care. How often do you guys need to replace the flash tube? I blow modeling lights too, but they are a lot cheaper and I use a regular light bulb in a pinch.
I don't use a flash often, no studio so it's only when I need it for something. My SB-700 probably has 5k shots on it and my SB-600 maybe twice that. I don't know, I don't keep track of it, so call it "Quite a few". I've never changed the flash tube on either.

Heat is a big issue though. In a studio setting where they are used for shot after shot after shot, and virtually every time they are used it is the same scenario, then their life is going to be shortened.
I have some Speedotron flashtubes that date to the mid-1980's from the first three lights I bought, and they are still firing, and a lot of them from the 1990's. The dates are printed right on the back of the ceramic base on Brown LIne M11 and Black Line 102 flashtubes. (I have 24 Speedotron flash heads of various models and vintages). Speedotron flash tubes last a long,long time.
Same here. I hardly ever needed to replace a flash tube.

I too am curious what brand/model of lights the OP is using.
Never had to replace any. I've had my AlienBees 800's for about 7 years now (thousands of firings) and no problems, even with higher wattage modeling lights than recommended I've never had those burn out either.

Sounds to me like if you are losing both the modeling lights and the flash tubes you may have a problem with the quality of the power coming into the unit.
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So the light unit does need to be replaced. But you have to dismantle the whole thing in order to replace it.
A flash tube usually only needs to be replaced if it has been broken.

Dropping a speedlight can break the flash tube.
Dropping, or knocking over a studio light on a light stand can break the flash tube.

The capacitors in a flash unit that store the power used to make a flash unit flash store enough power sufficient to kill someone from electrical shock.
People unfamiliar with high voltage circuit safety procedures have no business poking around in a flash unit.

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