Ballast for fluorescent lamps: why you need, how it works, types + how to choose

When the ballast for fluorescent lamps (LL) fails, the light fixture stops functioning correctly. Return it to normal mode can only be a quick replacement of the damaged element to serviceable.

You can buy the item in a specialized store. The main thing is to choose the module of the correct modification, corresponding in power and other parameters to the existing lamp.

Features of connecting LL to the network

Fluorescent lamp is a practical and economical module designed for the organization of lighting systems in domestic, industrial and technical premises.

The only difficulty is that it is not possible to directly connect the device to centralized power supply communications.

Type of ballast from the front side
Electromagnetic ballast consumes about 25% of the power of the lighting device, thus reducing its efficiency and efficiency level by a quarter

This is due to the fact that the creation of a persistent activating discharge in fluorescent type lamps and the subsequent limitation of the increasing current require the organization of some specific physical conditions. These problems are solved by the installation of the ballast device.

What is ballast

Ballast is a device that regulates the starting functions and connects fluorescent lighting devices to electrical communications.

Used to maintain the correct mode of operation and effectively limit the operating current.

Acquires increased relevance when there is an insufficient electrical load in the network and there is no necessary limitation with current consumption.

The general principle of the element

Inside the fluorescent lamps is an electrically conducting gaseous medium with negative resistance. This is manifested in the fact that when the current between the electrodes increases, the voltage decreases significantly.

Compensates for this moment and ensures the correct operation of the lighting device, which is connected to the control system of the ballast.

Base for fluorescent lamp
When a large amount of current is supplied to any luminescent device, it can fail. To prevent this from happening, the ballast is included in the design of the lamp. It acts as a converter.

It also increases the total voltage for a short period and helps luminescents to ignite when there is not enough resource in the central network. Additional functions of the module vary depending on its design features and type of execution.

Types and characteristics of ballasts

Today, the most widely distributed electromagnetic and electronic ballast devices. They work reliably and provide long proper functioning and comfort of operation of fluorescent lamps of all types. They have the same general principle of operation, but differ somewhat in their individual capabilities.

Features of electromagnetic products

Electromagnetic type ballasts are used for lamps that connect to the central electrical grid using a starter.

The supply voltage in this embodiment is accompanied by a discharge, followed by intense heating and closure of the bimetallic electrode elements.

Ballasts for fluorescent lamps
Electromagnetic ballast from the electronic is even different in appearance. The first has a more massive, high construction, and the second is an elongated thin board, on which all the working elements are located

At the moment when the starter electrodes close, the operating current increases sharply. This is due to the limitation of the maximum resistance of the choke coil.

After the starter cools completely, the bimetallic electrodes open.

Installing ballast into a fluorescent lamp
If the starter fails in the design of the electromagnetic ballast, a false start appears in the luminescent operation. At the same time, at the moment of switching on the lamp flashes 3-4 times and only then it starts to burn. This leads to the consumption of excess energy and significantly reduces the total working life of the light source.

When the luminescent circuit is opened by the starter, an active high voltage pulse is immediately formed in the induction coil and the lighting device is ignited.

The advantages of the device include:

  • high level of reliability, proven by time;
  • operational comfort of the electromagnetic module;
  • ease of assembly;
  • Affordable price that makes the product attractive to light source manufacturers and consumers.

In addition to the positive moments, users note an extensive list of disadvantages that spoil the overall impression of the device.

Among them are such positions as:

  • the presence of the effect of gating, in which the lamp flickers at a frequency of 50 Hz and causes an increase in the level of fatigue in humans - this significantly reduces the efficiency, especially when the lighting device is located in a working or training room;
  • longer time required to start the lighting device - from 2-3 seconds at the beginning and up to 5-8 by the mid-end of the operating period;
  • increased electricity consumption, leading to the inevitable increase in utility bills;
  • low reliability of the starter element;
  • audible specific throttle hum;
  • cumbersome design and its significant weight.

When buying, all these conditions must be taken into account in order to understand the future cost of operating a household lighting system equipped with luminescents.

Electronic Ballast Modules

Electronic type ballast is used for the same purposes as the electromagnetic module. However, structurally and according to the principle of the performance of their duties, these devices differ significantly from each other.

Electronic ballast from the budget series
Cheap electronic ballast, has a simple auto-oscillator circuit with a transformer and a basic output stage operating on bipolar transistors. The big minus of these devices is the lack of protection against abnormal operating modes.

The wide popularity of products came in the early 90s. At this time, they began to be used in conjunction with a variety of light sources.

Initially, the cost of manufacturers, compared with electromagnetic products, was compensated by good economy of devices and other useful characteristics and properties.

The use of electronic ballasts allowed to reduce the total consumption of electrical energy by 20-30%, while maintaining full saturation, power and power of the light flux.

This effect was achieved by increasing the base light output of the lamp itself at an increased frequency and a significantly higher efficiency of electronic modules compared to electromagnetic ones.

What does ballast look like
The most vulnerable elements of an electronic ballast are fuse (1), capacitor (2) and transistors (3).It is they who usually fail for various objective reasons and render the lamp inoperable.

A soft start and a gentle operating mode made it possible to extend the luminous centers life almost by half, thus lowering the overall operating costs of the lighting system. Lamps needed to be changed much less frequently, and the need for starters was gone altogether.

In addition, with the help of electronic ballasts, it was possible to get rid of working background noise and pronounced irritating flicker, in parallel achieving stable and even illumination of the premises even with voltage fluctuations in the network within 200-250 V.

Indoor fluorescent lamps
In order for the fluorescent lamp not to buzz and flicker, it is necessary to feed it only with high-frequency current of 20 kHz or more. To accomplish this task, the switching circuit must include a rectifier, high-voltage RF generator and ballast, which plays the role of a switching power supply

Additionally, it became possible to control the brightness of the lamp, adjusting the light flux to the individual desires and needs of the user.

Among the main advantages of the products stood out the following criteria:

  • low weight and compact design;
  • almost instantaneous, very smooth switching on, without putting undue stress on the fluorescent lamp;
  • complete absence of visible blinking and distinguishable sound effect;
  • high power factor of 0.95;
  • direct savings of electric current in the amount of 22% - the electronic module practically does not heat up compared to the electromagnetic one and does not consume an extra resource;
  • additional protection installed in the unit to ensure a high level of fire safety and reduce potential risks arising during operation;
  • significantly increased lifetime of luminescents;
  • light flux with good color density, without drops, even with long burning does not provoke fatigue of the eyes of people in the room;
  • high efficiency of the lighting device at negative temperatures;
  • the ability of the ballast to automatically adjust to the parameters of the lamp, thus creating an optimal mode of operation for yourself and the lighting device.

Some manufacturers complete their electronic ballasts with a special fuse. It protects devices from power surges, fluctuations in the central network and erroneous activation of the lamp without a lamp.

Office, consecrated fluorescent lamps
Today, labor protection authorities recommend, in order to improve working conditions and increase productivity, to equip fluorescent lamps installed in office premises with electronic rather than electromagnetic starting devices.

Of the minuses of electronic products, they usually mention only the cost, which is significantly higher in comparison with electromagnetic modules. However, this can only matter at the time of purchase.

In the future, in the process of intensive use, electronic ballast will fully work out its price and even begin to bring benefits, seriously saving electrical life and removing some of the load from the light source.

Ballasts for compact lamps

Compact fluorescent lamps are devices similar to traditional incandescent lamps with an E14 and E27 threaded base.

Can be placed in modern and rare chandeliers, wall lamps, floor lamps and other lighting fixtures.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp
Due to the constructional features of compact luminescents, there are increased requirements for the electronic “filling”. Brands always take them into account in production, and unknown manufacturers, in order to reduce the cost, change many elements to more simple ones. This significantly reduces the efficiency and service life of the module.

Devices of this class are completed, as a rule, with progressive electronic ballast, which is built directly into the internal structure and is usually located on the lamp product board.

What to look for when choosing

When choosing a ballast for a fluorescent lamp, first of all it is necessary to pay attention to such a parameter as the power of the module.

It must completely coincide with the power of the lighting device, otherwise the lamp simply will not be able to fully function and produce a light flux in the required mode.

The process of connecting the ballast
It is strictly forbidden to turn on the ballast into the network without load. The device can immediately burn out and will have to repair it or buy a new one.

Next you need to determine which ballast is required to purchase. For the price of more favorable electromagnetic elements.Their cost is low and there is usually no difficulty with the installation.

However, such devices are considered obsolete, have bulky dimensions and consume additional energy. This significantly reduces their attractiveness, even though the initial price is affordable.

Oscilloscope to check the performance of the ballast
To check the health of the electronic ballast, a special measuring device is useful - a pocket oscilloscope

Electronic devices are much more expensive. Especially this item applies to products issued by cool brand manufacturers. But their price is more than offset by energy efficiency, practicality, flawless assembly and a high level of overall quality devices.

Selection of ballast by manufacturer

The manufacturing plant is another significant criterion when buying. Do not rely solely on the price and buy the cheapest model of all that are offered in the store.

Features of branded ballasts

An unnamed Chinese-made product can fail very quickly and cause subsequent problems with the work of the light bulb itself and even the lamp.

Ballast from a famous brand
Brand manufacturers complete the ballasts with high-quality, wear-resistant parts that ensure the correct operation of the module during the entire operational period.

It is better to give preference to brands with a reliable reputation, well-proven long-term work in the market of lighting equipment and related items.

Such devices will reliably work out the entire prescribed period, ensuring the full functioning of the luminescent in any lighting device.

Ballast products manufactured at popular brand enterprises specializing in the manufacture of electrical equipment and related elements have a strong and durable outer casing made of heat-resistant plastic material that is not prone to deformation.

The IP2 marking on the products indicates that the device has a good level of general protection and is protected from foreign parts inside the box that are more than 12.5 mm in size.

The operation of the device is comfortable and completely safe. The design completely eliminates the possibility of user contact with conductive elements.

Ballast with IP2 marking
Ballast modules with IP2 markings are reliable, practical and convenient in home use, however, they are vulnerable to dust penetration. Because of this small minus, it is impractical to put them in lamps that illuminate dusty working rooms.

The normal temperature range for effective and long-term operation of the device is quite wide.

Brand ballasts qualitatively cope with the tasks in case of frosts reaching -20 ° C and feel great on hot days when the air heats up to +40 ° C.

The best manufacturers of electromagnetic devices

Electromagnetic ballast devices manufactured under the brand E.Next are very popular with customers.

This is due to the fact that the company offers truly high-quality, reliable and progressive modules, made at the highest level in strict accordance with the requirements for equipment of this class.

Call center employee
In addition to guarantees and services, E.Next offers customer technical support through call-centers. By calling there, the consumer can ask the operator a question of any complexity and within a few minutes get a professional, understandable answer.

For all products, the company gives a corporate guarantee and offers customers a high-quality service at all stages of cooperation.

Electromagnetic ballasts, created by the well-known and respected European manufacturer of electrical equipment and related elements - Philips, are no less in demand.

Products of this brand are considered among the highest quality, reliable and efficient.

Philips Electromagnetic Ballast
Philips electromagnetic modules are represented on the market in the widest range. Finding the right option for a lamp of any configuration is easy

Philips ballasts help to save energy and neutralize the load arising during the operation of fluorescent lamps.

Current electronic modules

Products of electronic type belong to the modern type of equipment and, in addition to traditional ones, also have additional functions. In this segment, the leading positions are occupied by goods from the German company Osram.

Their cost is slightly higher than that of Chinese or domestic counterparts, but significantly lower compared with competitors such as Philips and Vossloh-Schwabe.

Osram Electronic Ballast
Osram electronic ballasts have a number of advantages. They have a neat shape and modest dimensions, can operate in a temperature mode of -15 ... + 50 ° C and reliably serve for 100,000 hours

Among budget-branded modules, Horos electronic ballasts stand out against competitors.

Despite their loyal cost, these items demonstrate a high working efficiency and a good level of efficiency, eliminate the ignition delay, minimize energy consumption and increase the light output of the lamp itself.

Using these tools, you can eliminate the annoying flickering in fluorescent lamps and make lighting devices as convenient and operationally comfortable as possible.

Not far behind the venerable old-timers of the market and the young, promising company Feron. It offers users European-level products at a very small, reasonable price.

Electronic ballasts Feron
Feron ballasts are made neatly. All items have certificates of conformity. The outer casing, made of plastic, is an elongated flat rectangle. The product weighs little and is easily mounted to fluorescent light sources of any configuration.

Ballast-type devices from Feron protect the lamp from unexpected electromechanical noise and voltage drops, eliminate flicker that irritates eyes and help to save more than 30% of electrical energy.

Feron's ballast controlled luminescent turns on / off instantly. Background sound effect in the process is not observed. The lighting is soft, uniform and creates a pleasant, calm atmosphere around.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

How does an electronic device in a fluorescent lamp. Detailed description of the device and the principle of operation of the product:

What is the difference between electromagnetic and electronic ballasts? Features of each of the modules and the specific nuances of their use in household lighting:

Features of the work of lamps equipped with ballasts of different types. What elements are more effective and why. Practical recommendations and useful tips from the personal experience of the master:

In order to choose the right ballast for household fluorescent lamps, you need to know how this element is arranged and what function it performs.Having such information, as well as understanding the varieties of the device, it will be possible to acquire the necessary modification without any difficulties.

The cost of the module depends on the manufacturer, but even branded products have a quite loyal price and do not cause damage to the budget of the average consumer.

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