What Is a Light Ballast?
If you outfit your home or business with fluorescent or HID lighting, you depend on a device called a light ballast. A light ballast is a mechanism that controls the amount of electrical current that passes from your power source to the light fixture. If you've ever heard buzzing coming from your lighting fixture, the sound is actually coming from the light ballast, not the bulb itself. The right ballast replacement can be a cost-effective lighting solution that provides advanced control over the amount of light produced in a space, resulting in enhanced energy efficiency.
How Does a Light Ballast Work?
A light ballast interacts with the lamp's lighting mechanism to regulate and stabilize the light output. Depending on how your lighting system operates, the light ballast may also play a role in providing a specific amount of electrical energy to properly heat the lamp, which is referred to as a program start ballast. Program start ballasts prevent the inner components of the lamp from dying prematurely. Other types of ballast replacements offer a variety of benefits, such as faster start times or dimmable features.
Magnetic Vs. Electronic Ballasts
While all the components in light ballasts operate because of their negative electrical resistant properties, they can be constructed in different ways. Two types of lamps work with light ballasts - fluorescent and HID, which is part of the halide family of bulbs.
In fluorescent light fixtures, the two most common types of light ballasts include electronic and magnetic ballasts. The following are the basic differences between magnetic vs electronic ballasts:
Magnetic ballasts are constructed with a single induction coil designed to reduce the amount of charge in an electrical circuit. They’re typically made with copper wiring to regulate the electricity that's produced. Magnetic ballasts are simple in design, but their lower frequencies may cause light flickering and a buzzing sound in fluorescent lamps.
Unlike magnetic ballasts that have a single coil, electronic ballasts feature a series of induction coils that also regulate the amount of charge in an electrical circuit. The coils are designed to regulate the frequency of the electrical current without influencing the lamp's voltage.
Due to the higher frequencies of electronic ballasts, they typically prevent light flickering and buzzing sounds from fluorescent lamps. Compared to magnetic ballasts, electronic ballasts are smaller in size and weight, more energy efficient, and easier to install.
Where to Find Ballast Replacements
Shop Batteries Plus Bulbs online or in-store today for the best selection of ballast replacements.
We offer durable, efficient solutions for your lighting needs by stocking a large inventory of ballast products, including CFL pin based, fluorescent, halide, and magnetic ballasts. We're also a leader in responsibly recycling used lamp and light ballasts, so dispose of your old pieces at one of our store locations.