Electronic Ballasts vs. Magnetic Ballasts Electronic Ballasts vs. Magnetic Ballasts

When talking about lighting, a ballast is the mechanism that controls how much electrical current passes from your power source into your light fixture. All ballast materials, or control gears, work because they have a negative electrical resistance, but they can be constructed in a more than one variety. In fluorescent light fixtures, two common types are electronic ballasts and magnetic ballasts.

If you've ever wondered why some of your fluorescent lamps either flicker or emit a constant buzzing sound, it's due to the type of light ballast used.

Electronic Ballasts

Electronic ballasts alter the flow of electricity in the light bulb by using a series of induction coils that are separated from one another. They also change the frequency of the electrical current without changing the voltage. While magnetic ballasts in fluorescent lamps work at a frequency of 60hz, electronic ballasts greatly increase that frequency to 20,000hz.

Due to the very high frequency, you will not see the lights flickering and will not hear a buzzing sound from fluorescent lamps using electronic ballasts.

Magnetic Ballasts

In contrast to the multiple induction coils on the electronic type, magnetic ballasts only use one single coil. These ballasts can be located inside your light sockets 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. When the copper is exposed to the current, it generates a magnetic field that captures most of the current that might have continued to flow. In this way, it regulates the electricity in that only small increments actually continue onward 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.

Electronic Ballasts vs. Magnetic Ballasts

Essentially, this contest has already been won. While magnetic ballasts are simple and easy in their design and operating principle, the more sophisticated electronic ballast just has too many advantages.

In addition to not causing fluorescent flicker and noise like magnetic ballasts, electronic ballasts are preferred because 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 install wire that would be needed for a magnetic control gear. Electronic ballasts can be used as a single ballast in three and four-lamp luminaries.

Another advantage is that electronic ballasts can be used in lamps that are in parallel and series mode. This means that if one of the lamps goes out, this will not affect the other lamps even though all the lamps are using the same ballast.

The current trend in fact, is that even buildings and people which are already presently using magnetic ballasts, are swapping them out for electronic ones as the replacement process is also very inexpensive.

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