What is the ballast's function?
A ballast serves to start a fluorescent or HID bulb by causing an arc to form inside the bulb. Once the bulb is lit, the current flowing through the bulb must be regulated to keep the arc operating at peak efficiency.

Magnetic vs. Electronic Ballasts
High frequency electronic ballasts operate bulbs more efficiently and eliminate the hum and visible flicker normally associated with standard magnetic ballasts. With respect to linear fluorescent lamps, electronic ballasts are designed to operate T8 fluorescent tubes, while older-style magnetic ballasts are designed to operate T12 fluorescent lamps. Click here for more information about various ballast types.

Instant Start, Rapid Start, and Programmed Start Electronic Ballasts
Many of the ballasts we sell feature instant start circuitry. Instant start ballasts are very efficient, leading to a reduction in energy costs. They have parallel circuitry that allows lamps to remain lit even after one lamp has failed. They use 1.5 to 2 watts less per lamp than rapid start electronic ballasts. Instant start ballasts also allow longer remote wiring distance, easier installation, and the capability to start lamps at 0ºF (versus 50ºF for rapid start). Programmed start ballasts heat the electrodes to their optimum operating temperature, before voltage is applied to start the lamp. This greatly reduces stress on the electrodes, and increases lamp life.

Ballasts should be installed and operated in compliance with the National Electronic Code, (NEC), Underwriters Laboratories Inc., (UL), requirements, and all applicable codes and regulations. As it is possible to come in contact with potentially hazardous voltages, only qualified personnel should perform ballast installation. All installation, inspection, and maintenance of lighting fixtures should be done with the power to the fixture turned off. The ballast case and fixture must ALWAYS be grounded in order to insure safety, proper start-up, and acceptable electromagnetic and radio frequency interference.