Everything You Need To Know About Ballasts

Ballasts are found in fluorescent tube lighting and they are crucial in order to keep the light fitting running smoothly. Clearly, this part of the fixture is important, but do you know how or why? Read on to find out everything that you need to know about ballasts, the different kinds there are and when you may need to consider changing them.

What Is A Ballast?

The ballast is probably the most important part of any fluorescent light fixture as it sends energy through the lamp. It is able to provide the correct amount of voltage to start the lamp and also regulates the amount of current that flows to it once you’ve switched it on. Without the regulation that a ballast provides, light sources would overheat and burn out within a couple of seconds. Ballasts are designed to operate with a specific number of lamps of a specific type at a specific voltage and as a result of this, not all ballasts are compatible with all fluorescent lamps.

Ascending steep escalator in Stockholm station with posters along the wall and flourescent lights overhead
Photo by Jordan Sanchez / Unsplash

What Are The Different Types Of Ballasts?

There are two different types of fluorescent ballasts, magnetic and electronic. Magnetic ballasts are an older technology and they tend to be less expensive but are characterised by the fact that they hum and also flicker at around 120 times per second. On the other hand, electronic ballasts operate relatively quietly, eliminating the flicker common in magnetic ballasts, and are more energy efficient making them a much superior choice. This type of ballast can also be a rapid start, instant start, or programmed start methods. We stock a comprehensive range of electrical ballasts that can be used for starting and regulating linear and compact fluorescent lamps.

A long fluorescent lamp in a dark interior
Photo by Anton Belashov / Unsplash

When Should You Consider Changing Your Ballast?

In general, it’s unlikely that you will need to change your ballast that frequently,
but it’s normal to see some signs of poorer performance after around three years.
Usually, ballasts will suffer a steady decline in their performance, so you’ll notice the lamps go from slight issues sustaining full light output to complete failure to light. All ballasts fail at some point, so it’s important to know the signs of failure so you can address them and don’t change your bulb instead. If your lights seem to be dim, buzzing, flickering rapidly, or changing colour, it may be time to service your fixture.

Created by Gary Baker on 12th March, 2018


Gary Baker

Gary Baker