Monday, May 3, 2010

Electronic Ballast and lamps T8 and T5 (part 2)


Magnetic vs. Electronic Ballast

Magnetic ballast are now prohibited per EPACT 2005, but are still in operation in the majority of buildings in the US. They are the main reason for concern in a retrofit lighting audit. You have to be aware that magnetic ballast are a high consumption of energy element in a building and can be more susceptible to power quality issues than electronic ballast. They work operate with 60Hz frequency witch they have to increase by vibration to excite the lamps gases and keep them on. This vibration causes a high pitch noise that can affect hearing and cause power quality problems with computers and other electronic components that are sensitive to RFI noise. Electronic ballast convert 60Hz frequency to MHz frequency without the noise. Some engineers in buildings may have concerns with Total Harmonics Distortion and electronic ballast. They should not, because it has been shown that magnetic ballast also produce Harmonic Distortion and the technology used in the majority of electronic ballast is well bellow the percentage recommended by IEEE.

The main conclusion is that you are way better off, making the change or retrofit with electronic ballast, than having a high energy consuming fixture.

If you have questions or comments, please forward them to

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Electronic Ballast and lamps T8 and T5 (part 1)


Electronic ballasts for T8 and T5 lamps, are another element that can help you save energy. As per our latest entry, the ballast are part of a retrofit kit, and an essential part. And why is that? This is because of how a ballast works. An electronic ballast function essentially as a switching power supply, this is how almost all computer and laptops power supplies work. That is why it’s energy consumption is almost imperceptible or has very low or almost none energy consumption.

There are two types of electronic ballast, instant start and rapid or programmed start. Instant start ballast are the most efficient ballast in the market and the type that we recommend almost all of the time. It starts the T8 lamps by giving them a high inrush current to excite the lamps elements (mercury, argon gas, etc), these are the ones that produce the light output.  Rapid start or programmed start electronic ballast work a little different, to start a lamp they maintain the anode and cathode of the lamp heated at all times, and when you switch the lamps on, they start the lamps. This preheat of the anode and cathode of the lamps, causes that this ballast consumes more energy than the instant start ballast. Remember that all T5 lamps use programmed start or rapid start type of ballast.

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