An electronic ballast uses solid state electronic circuitry to provide the proper starting and operating electrical conditions to power discharge lamps. An electronic ballast can be smaller and lighter than a comparably-rated magnetic one. An electronic ballast is usually quieter than a magnetic one, which produces a line-frequency hum by vibration of the transformer laminations.
An electronic ballast and a magnetic ballast are the two main types of ballasts used in certain light sources. There is a big difference in how each ballast works and how it affects the lighting in your rooms. Light ballasts are small devices that are very important to the function of fluorescent lamps. Also sometimes referred to as the control gear, light ballasts have a negative electrical resistance, thereby limiting the current passing through the lamps. If you have ever wondered why some of your fluorescent lamps either flicker or have a constant buzzing sound, this is due to the type of light ballast used.
Electronic ballasts alter the flow of electricity in the light bulb by using a series of induction coils that are separated from one another. In contrast, magnetic ballast uses 1 induction coil and not a series.
Another difference is that electronic ballasts change the frequency of the electrical current without changing the voltage. While magnetic ballasts in fluorescent lamps work at a frequency of 60 hertz, electronic ballasts greatly increase that frequency to 20,000 hertz.
Due to such a high frequency, you will not see the lights flickering and will not hear a buzzing sound with fluorescent lamps using electronic ballasts.
Since magnetic ballasts are not as sophisticated as electronic ballasts and can be problematic, they are being replaced by the electronic versions. Magnetic ballasts are found in the light socket in between the plug for the light bulb and the power chord.
In magnetic ballasts, current flows through coils of copper wire before moving on to the light bulb. Most of the current gets caught in the magnetic field it generates, with only small increments moving on to the light bulb. The current that is passed on depends on the thickness and the length of the copper coil. This inconsistent flow of the current is what causes the lights of the lamp to flicker and also creates the buzzing sound.
In addition to not flickering and being quieter than magnetic ballasts, electronic ballasts are preferred because it has many other advantages. They are smaller in size and weigh less. They are also great for the environment and your bank account because they are energy efficient and therefore lower your monthly energy bill.
You can also reduce the cost of hiring an electrician to wire and save on the installation costs with electronic ballasts since they can be used as a single ballast in 3 and 4-lamp luminaries.
Another advantage is that electronic ballasts can be used in lamps that are in parallel and series mode. If one of the lamps goes out, this will not affect the other lamps even though all the lamps are using the same ballast.
Also, if you want to replace your magnetic ballast with an electronic ballast, this is cheap and relatively easy to do.
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