Buying Fluorescent Ballasts: 3 Factors to Consider

Feb 10, 12 Buying Fluorescent Ballasts: 3 Factors to Consider

Unless you’re an electrician, you’ve probably never changed a ballast. Chances are, when your garage fixture or kitchen light went out, you changed the bulbs, and when that didn’t work, you went to an overpriced hardware store and bought a brand-new fixture. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, you could’ve saved a lot of money by switching out the ballast—an investment of only $10 to $15.

But with so many options out there, how would you know which ballast to pick? The truth is, it’s pretty simple. There are tons of fluorescent ballasts to choose from (we have nearly 300 on our site!), but most business owners and even homeowners will find it easy to wade through that seemingly never-ending selection if they concentrate on just 3 key specs: Bulb type, start method, and ballast factor.

Bulb Type

Needless to say, this is the most important part. If you don’t know what type of fluorescent bulb you’re using, you’re going to have a hard time figuring out which type of fluorescent ballast to buy. Fortunately, most fluorescent fixtures will use one of three common bulb types: An F40T12 (4′ long; 1.5″ in diameter), an F32T8 (4′ long; 1″ in diameter) or an F54T5 (46″ long; 0.625″ in diameter). If your bulbs don’t meet one of these descriptions, you’ll need to check the etching near one of the ends of the fluorescent bulb (a good idea even if you think you know the bulb type).

Start Method

Once you’ve determined what type of  fluorescent bulbs you have, don’t burn them out prematurely by choosing a ballast with the wrong starting method. As discussed in a previous article on how to extend the life of a light bulb, an instant start ballast hits the fluorescent bulb cathodes with about 600 volts every time you flip the light switch. As you might imagine, the bulb can only stand so many of those on/off switches. Consider where your fixture is installed. Offices, boardrooms, and retail spaces tend to stay lit for long periods, so use an instant start ballast should be fine, as long as you don’t switch the lights off and on more than about 3-4 times a day. Hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms are switched much more frequently, especially since the lighting in these areas is often controlled by an occupancy sensor. In these areas, it’s best to use a programmed start ballast, which will heat the bulb cathodes more slowly and prolong its life.

Ballast Factor

Finally, you need to consider light output. “What?” you say. “You mean the bulb isn’t exactly the brightness it says it is on the label?” Nope. The light output shown on a fluorescent bulb’s label, expressed in lumens, is figured using a normal light output ballast with a ballast factor between 0.77 and 1.1. A normal ballast factor is usually the right option, for “normal” circumstances. But if you don’t need your room quite as bright, you can save electricity by using a low output ballast with a ballast factor below 0.77. On the other hand, if you are lighting a warehouse or manufacturing facility where brightness is important, you will need a high output ballast with a ballast factor above 1.1, which will push the bulb to be 10% or more brighter than stated on the label.

Of course, if you need something more specialized like a sign ballastdimming ballast, or circline ballast, you’ll likely need an equally specialized electrician. The same principles still hold true, however, so if you need to call an electrician, at least he’ll be impressed by how much you know!

 

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Advantages of Electronic HID Ballasts

Jun 06, 11 Advantages of Electronic HID Ballasts

Electronic HID ballasts are a growing part of the market. These units combine the capacitor, ignitor, and mounting brackets into a single unit along with the ballast itself. There are advantages to this design that many companies are starting to use to their benefit. One benefit is up to 25% better energy efficiency than traditional magnetic ballasts, which can add up to significant savings every year.


Another advantage of these ballasts is their decreasing costs and increasing versatility. Over the past few years, the size and cost of electronic HID ballasts have been steadily decreasing. This evolution has increased the wattages available in these ballasts. Right now, much of the market is concentrated in the lower wattage range between 40W and 70W; however, the cost savings mentioned above is making the higher wattages more popular in many applications. Most manufacturers now offer wattages up to 450W.

Manufacturers now create electronic HID ballasts that can handle lamps of different voltages and mounting types. This increases versatility and the number of applications for this type of ballast. Some manufacturers have even introduced dimming electronic ballasts that allow interior spaces to take advantage of sunlight during the daytime. Retailers love this advantage and use it to their benefit every sunny day they can.

Electronic HID ballasts continue to build on their advantages, allowing the use of lower wattage bulbs and providing constant illumination through automatic voltage regulation; all of this is accomplished in a quiet, flicker-free, and economical package. All of these advantages make them the ballast of choice for many commercial lighting designers today, and their increasing versatility and rapidly falling prices, electronic ballasts are becoming the industry favorites.

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Commercial Christmas Lights – Order Early!

Apr 18, 11 Commercial Christmas Lights – Order Early!

If you are in the market for commercial Christmas lights, you need to order early to ensure you get the best selection possible. One of the biggest reasons for doing this is to make sure you get the exact lighting you want. Once the rush begins to stock up on Christmas lighting, many of the popular lighting options will sell out quickly. If you want to update your Christmas lighting stock, it is important to get your order in early so you can secure exactly what you want. If you wait too late, you may be trying to mix and match whatever is left over, and that will not give you the display you want.


Another reason for putting your order in for commercial Christmas light early is the fact that you will have everything ready for when you want to start decorating. Many commercial customers wait too late to order Christmas decorating supplies. That leaves them scrambling to get their decorations up and running in time to take advantage of the Christmas season. It is in your best interest to make sure you have everything ready well before the holiday season arrives. This will allow you to plan your displays and get them up before anyone else.

When you shop at 1000Bulbs.com, you can get more than commercial Christmas lights. We offer a wide selection of decorating options for our commercial and residential customers. You might want to change your lighting scheme up and use Christmas rope lights instead of regular string lights. You can get them in multiple colors or in strands of single colors. For something a bit different, you might consider a starlight sphere with multiple colored lights. You can also get giant Christmas ornaments in various sizes as well as Christmas scenes, life-size figures, bows, wreaths, and trees.

You need to start planning your Christmas decoration schemes early. Once you have an idea of what you want, get online and see what options are available. This will ensure that you have everything ready for the holiday season. You can match everything to the scheme you want and have it out on display before anybody else does. You can save time, money, and hassle by doing the shopping early and getting ready for the season.

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HID and Metal Halide Bulbs

Apr 11, 11 HID and Metal Halide Bulbs

With the increasing push to make lighting more efficient, many designers are starting to look at metal halide and other HID (high intensity discharge) lamps as a viable alternative to fluorescent and incandescent lighting sources. Though this light source has been traditionally used in warehouses, parking lots, and other commercial areas, its use has recently expanded, making it a viable lighting alternative even in outdoor residential settings.

What are HID lamps? These lamps are compact and efficient sources of powerful light that require a ballast, much like fluorescent lamps. Also like fluorescents, these lamps use rare earth metal salts in combination with mercury vapor stored in a vacuum tube. When electricity passes through the lamp’s electrodes, the vapor and salts illuminate, producing a large amount of light in the right color spectrum. This type of energy-efficient lighting works well in general lighting situations, as floodlights, and in security areas.

HID lamps take a short amount of time to get to their brightest illumination. The temperature and pressure inside the vacuum needs to reach an optimal temperature before maximum illumination happens. Some will take only a few seconds while some may require a couple of minutes. When a lamp shuts off, many of them require a few minutes to cool down before they can be re-lit.

If you are considering HID lighting, you can do no better than pulse start metal halides. These are the most energy-efficient of HID lighting types, and their cost is becoming more affordable. Their small bulb shape allows them to offer many advantages that fluorescent sources cannot, and with their long lamp life, you will find their cost low in comparison to incandescents.

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Moon Pulse HID Bulbs Make Outdoor Lighting Magical

Feb 07, 11 Moon Pulse HID Bulbs Make Outdoor Lighting Magical

Moon Pulse HID bulbs are an innovation in outdoor lighting that marry the moon-like glow of mercury vapor lamps with the efficiency of pulse start metal halide technology. Manufactured by Iwasaki Global Technology, these bulbs offer long life and fantastic lighting for outdoor spaces.


Moon Pulse lamps make landscaping plants look their best at night. The lights are not glaring. They provide a diffuse light which mimics the glow of the full moon. They also provide a glow to any structure at which you point them. Because traditional mercury ballasts can no longer be sold to or imported to the United States, Moon Pulse lamps are now the technology of choice for many landscape professionals who want a beautiful lighting option for their clients.

Moon Pulse HID bulbs come in two shapes: elliptical and reflector. Both shapes come with a medium base for use in many exterior lighting fixtures. 1000Bulbs.com currently offers four wattages: 50W, 75W, 100W, and 175W. The elliptical bulb is perfect for lamps that line walkways. These give illumination in a 360-degree circle. The reflector, on the other hand, reflects most of the light through the top of the bulb. These are prefect fixtures for directional lighting. You can use any combination of these bulbs as long as you have pulse start metal halide ballast in place.

If you are a professional landscaper or an interested consumer, you need to take a serious look at the Moon Pulse HID bulbs. These lights offer beautiful illumination that closely mimics moonlight. Due to careful design and engineering, these bulbs can work in many lighting schemes. You can capture the beauty of mercury vapor lights without the dangers presented with the old mercury ballasts. If you want to enhance your landscape or offer customers the option, look at Moon Pulse for inspiration and guidance.

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