Energy prices are constantly rising and resources on our planet are running out causing a worldwide environmental crisis. To prevent that, people have started to use other kind or electricity sources for their lighting needs. One of these is the fluorescent lighting option, which is much more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs.
You have probably noticed that fluorescent lights are somewhat brighter and sometimes may take a few seconds to light up. Why is that? Donít worry, there is nothing wrong with your lighting, it comes from the fluorescent ballast inside the lamp.
What Is a Fluorescent Ballast?
Itís a tiny device that makes sure that your fluorescent bulb works as it should and keeps the current flowing smoothly through the bulb. The ballast starts electron discharge by giving a high voltage to the light bulb, then starts controlling the work of the bulb and maintaining the discharge.
How to Buy One
When you need to go and buy a fluorescent ballast, there are several factors to look out for, including current crest factor, wattage and voltage. To make sure your lamp works as good as possible, itís important to choose the correct ballast, otherwise the operating life of the lamp will be reduced and the bulb output is not quite what it should be.
There are three types of these ballasts available in the stores:
ï Preheating ballasts
ï Rapid start ballasts
ï Instant start ballasts
Preheating ballasts take some time to heat up and start their electron discharge. Rapid start ballasts require heating before and even during operation. Instant start ballasts require very high voltage when starting and often considered the best ballasts. Output lamps usually have rapid start and operating lamps with below 30 wattage use preheating ballasts.
Another way to categorize ballasts is to do it based on their efficiency:
ï High efficiency ballasts with CEE rating
ï Residential ballasts
ï Standard ballasts
Businesses normally use a CEE ballast, which gives over 95 percent light output with illumination of 99.8 lm/W. This is perfect for large rooms such as a warehouse or a store. It is also always a good idea to ask an electrician for advice about buying ballasts.
Installing a Fluorescent Ballast
Once you have already bought your ballast, it is best to leave the installation part to be done by an electrician who is licensed to perform this kind of work. There are many things that can go wrong and you wouldnít want to have to buy a new bulb, should it break because of wrongfully installed ballasts