How to Test a High-pressure Sodium Ballast

A lamp and a lightbulb.
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 60
What You'll Need
AC volt meter
Paper and pen

A high-pressure sodium ballast is responsible for regulating the pressure in light fixtures that use high-pressure sodium gas to produce the light. These types of lights are commonly found outside. They are used for things such as security lighting. They are also commonly found in an indoor garden setting. These types of lights efficiently produce very intense light. There is very little energy consumption. Here is a quick guide on how to test your high-pressure sodium ballast to make sure it is properly and efficiently igniting the bulb.

Step 1 - Remove the Lamp

Remove the lamp. Make sure you turn off all power first to safely remove the lamp from the location.

Step 2 - Visually Inspect the Lamp

Visually inspect the lamp for proper connections and contacts. This will eliminate any visual or connection issues with your high-pressure sodium ballast.

Step 3 - Check Accessories

Review the accessories on your lamp. Verify proper types and ratings. Pull out your owner's manual to make sure the accessories are appropriate for your lamp. Generally, you should inspect the choke, the starter, and the phase correction capacitor.

Step 4 - Test the Voltage

Using your voltmeter, test the voltage. Test the input terminals for each lamp. (Refer to your diagrams. Often you can find the diagram on the ballast or the underbelly of the lamp. For reference purposes, transfer the diagram using a pen and piece of paper). Test the ballast input side and then the ballast lamp side. These types of tests can harm your voltmeter. Make sure you are using the proper high voltage probe when testing.

Step 5 - Check the Ballast

Remove the starter. Insert a short circuiter into the lamp holder. Now you will need to turn the system on. Your ballast is working correctly if you do not see any signs of smoke or any humming and buzzing sounds. You should perform this test for a minimum of one to two minutes.

Step 6 - Check the Short-circuit Current

Pull out the AC ammeter and check the short circuit current of the ballast. During the test, the fuse should resist the short circuit current. Also, check the choke type and rating used. It must be appropriate for the ballast. If during the test you find the fuse blown, then you know that there is a short in the ballast.

Step 7 - Reassemble

If everything tests out perfectly, reassemble the ballast and the lamp or lamp cover. Place your lamp back in the original housing and turn the electricity back on.

Tips and Warnings

If you are uncomfortable around electronic diagrams and devices, it is best to seek the advice of a professional.

Proper safety precautions must always be adhered to when testing high-pressure sodium ballasts. Always perform tests with the electricity turned off.