Electronic Ballasts

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

A solid state electronic ballast has become available in recent years. This ballast is lightweight, generates very little heat. The electronic ballasts that we recommend operate at 50,000 Hz, rather than the standard 60Hz of magnetic ballasts. The high frequency cycling effectively eliminates flickering and humming.

Some of the advantages of electronic ballasts:

  • Use 25-30% less energy
  • Increase the lifespan of lamps
  • Longer lamp and ballast life reduces associated maintenance costs
  • Reduced heat generation reduces air conditioning costs
  • High frequency operation of 50,000 Hz eliminates flicker and hum
  • Flicker-free light reduces eye strain and fatigue
  • Electronic ballasts give off very low levels of EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields)

Magnetic Ballasts

The standard ballast used the last few decades has been a magnetic type, which produces negative side effects and is more expensive to run than the newer electronic ballasts.

  • Magnetic ballasts operate at 60Hz, or cycles per second, the frequency of the AC voltage they run on. This means that each lamp switches on and off 120 times per second, resulting in a barely perceptible flicker and a noticeable hum. These ballasts are frequently implicated in Sick Building Syndrome. About 25% of the people are noticeably sensitive to ballast flicker and hum and can become physically ill, with symptoms such as headaches, nausea, itching and burning eyes, tension, eye fatigue, and general fatigue. The flickering light increases stress hormones produced by the adrenals.
  • The 60 Hz cycling also shortens the life expectancy of the lamps, increasing their cost.
  • The most commonly used rapid-start magnetic ballast draws 2-3 watts even when the lamp is switched off, a sizable expense in a building with many lamps. This ballast draws current even when the fluorescent lamps are removed.
  • Magnetic ballasts have a relatively short life span.
  • During the final 30% of the ballast”s lifespan, it consumes the same amount of energy but produces far lower light levels.
  • Magnetic ballasts give off high levels of EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields) which may increase the risk of cancer.
  • Magnetic ballasts produced prior to 1978 contain PCBs, a known carcinogen.
  • Because magnetic ballasts operate at 60Hz per second, they can cause a stroboscopic effect with any machinery that has moving parts, such as pulleys, gears or saws, that run at speeds that are a multiple of 60Hz. The stroboscopic effect will cause the machine to appear motionless, which can be a deadly hazard.

To verify which type of ballast is currently installed in a given fixture without having to take it apart, look at the type of bulb that is in the fixture. A T12 tube uses a magnetic ballast; a T8 tube requires an electronic ballast.

The bottom line: Lighting efficiency upgrades pay for themselves in less than two or three years. Workers are happier, healthier and more productive. Click here for a PDF version of the T8 Plus tubes specifications.

Ready to order? Click here > > >

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information and the lights do not claim to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health program.