A device connected between the supply circuit and one or more discharge lamps and used primarily to limit the lamp current to the required value.
Ballasts are required to operate gas discharge lamps. Ballasts consume energy. This energy consumption is referred to as power dissipation. For comparisons of power consumption and luminous efficacy, it is not the power of the lamp alone that counts, but the total power of the lamp and ballast system. Particularly in the case of fluorescent lamps, the choice of ballast has a significant influence on the total power consumption and thus on economic efficiency.
Various designs, which can be classified into magnetic and electronic ballasts, are available today. In addition to economy, lamp life and lighting quality are also determined by the type and mode of operation of the ballast.
Magnetic ballasts or also inductive ballasts for fluorescent lamps are divided into the groups "conventional ballasts" and "low-loss ballasts". In both cases, iron cores wound with copper wire are used. The fluorescent lamps are ignited by starters.
In the case of low-loss ballasts, special electrical sheets, larger copper cross-sections and an optimized core design lead to a reduction in intrinsic losses. The power savings compared with conventional ballasts depend to a large extent on the lamp wattage.
Electronic ballasts ECG (electronic control gear) achieve a higher luminous efficacy of the lamps with reduced intrinsic losses due to an operating frequency of 25 to over 90 kHz. These ballasts, which vary in design, achieve very different system power inputs with the connected lamps and thus different degrees of energy efficiency.
Quickly made - taking into account a few points:
- Is the ECG designed for my lamp type? (Ex: If I have a T8 lamp, the ECG must be designed for T8 lamps).
- Does the output power of the ECG match the required power of my lamp? (Ex: the power 58W of my lamp must be able to perform the ECG).
- Is the design correct? (ECGs have different designs and dimensions. It is important to make sure that the design fits my application).
- Does the number of output channels of the ECG fit? (For example, if I want to connect several lamps to one ECG, it must have enough output channels to control the individual lamps).
- Did I get a starter adapter? With ECGs, the range of the starter is omitted - to ensure proper operation, this range must be bridged by an adapter, or rewired.
In order to conserve increasingly scarce energy resources and reduce environmental pollution, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted the Ballast Directive 2000/55/EC on energy efficiency requirements for ballasts for fluorescent lighting.
This directive covers the entire economic area of the European Community and has been in force since October 2000. The directive contains an energy efficiency classification (Energy Efficiency Index EEI) with maximum permissible system outputs of lamp and ballast as well as two ban levels. This is intended to remove ballasts with excessively high power losses from the market in a chronological sequence.