How does a light ballast work?


Quick Answer

Light ballasts work by illuminating bulb chambers filled with gas and regulating the current flow of the lamp. Ballast controls use either simple fixed resistors or more complex control systems.

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Full Answer

There are several types of light ballasts. Digital lamp ballasts are equipped with microprocessing circuits for starting power efficiency and regulating electric flow sustainability in digital high-intensity lights. These ballasts can be joined to motion detectors to dampen light in areas that are not being used.

Electronic ballasts adjust electric current power frequency up to 20 kilohertz higher than the normal 60 kilohertz to eliminate flickering in fluorescent tubes. Magnetic ballasts use a magnetic capacitor attached to a power inductor to manage the electrical power of the lamp and can sustain large installations. Instant-start ballasts do not heat the fluorescent tube when starting but instead provide a jolt of 600 volts of energy, which makes these ballasts better suited to areas where the light is rarely turned off.

Rapid-start ballasts both warm the bulb and apply electricity to the gas, and they are useful in areas where the brightness is variable. Programmed-start fluorescent ballasts improve on the rapid-start ballasts by providing more steady heat to the filaments and bulb cathodes. This ensures the light can be turned off and on over a long period of time and makes the bulb more sustainable.

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