You might have probably wondered, what is that little box with your fluorescent lamps and other light fittings? Yes, it is a ballast, but what does it do? To put it simply, a ballast is like the ignition system in your car. With the flick of a switch, a ballast will trigger and charge a supply of high voltage current between two lamp-ends, and regulate the electric current to steadily illuminate your bulbs. Without a ballast to restrict its current, a fluorescent lamp connected directly to a high voltage power source would rapidly, and quite dramatically, overheat and burn out.
While it is common knowledge that fluorescents use ballasts, LEDs use drivers. LED drivers can be considered ballasts, in a sense, because they perform basically the same functions. Both ballasts and drivers charge their respective lights and control your light fixtures from the first flick of a switch all throughout their long life and thousands of hours of performance.
Since the introduction of ballasts for fluorescent lamps in 1939, ballasts and drivers have evolved to develop many variations in efficient design and complexity. GoodBulb, with its wealth of expertise, resources, and cutting-edge technology is the perfect place to find all your ballast and driver needs!
LIGHT BULB MOMENTS
Here is a thought: The word ‘ballast’ is a derivative of ‘ballistic’. To go ballistic, one would become “extremely and usually suddenly excited, upset, or angry.” A ballast operates by suddenly surging power to its device or fixture before stabilizing, much in the same way that a person going ballistic would suddenly have a surge of adrenaline coursing through them before stabilizing, as well. Coincidence? I think not.
Since its introduction in 1939, there have been many variations in sophisticated ballast design and complexity. The early magnetic ballasts consisted of inductors, capacitors and a series of resistors. This was enough to help fluorescent tube fixtures become the popular lighting option for commercial applications. But there was a noticeable drawback of the buzzing noise they produced and the flickering that was an indication of the end of their productive life. Modern solid-state electronic ballasts have largely eliminated these issues, while cutting energy consumption.
Electronic ballasts have fast become popular due to their advantages, like greater efficiency and generating less internal heat thereby reducing power losses, they are lighter in weight, and feature instant start technology along with a quieter operation. What’s more, electronic ballasts are generally directly compatible with existing fixtures using the older magnetic ballast technology, making the switch to a more economical (and less annoying ballast) super easy.
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that internal ballasts and drivers are a thing?
Besides the External Ballasts and Drivers you can see, household bulbs usually include a built-in internal driver for LEDs, or a solid-state ballast for CFLs so that they can be screwed into a standard E26 socket. Without that kind of compatibility, neither form would likely have caught on with consumers.
Similarly, LED tube lamps designed to replace fluorescents often have an integrated driver, allowing tubes to simply slip into existing fixtures. This is a huge advantage to commercial property owners and facility managers, as it cuts down the capital investment required to switch over from an existing lighting system.
You also have, on the opposite end of the spectrum, remote ballasts and drivers that are often located quite far from the actual lamps, and are used to power more than one light at a time. Isn’t technology cool?!