Building A Better Ballast

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Building A Better Ballast

Much is changing in greenhouse lighting. Driven by high energy costs and the promotion of energy savings, electronic greenhouse lighting systems are popping up across the United States.

Greenhouse HID lighting systems require a ballast to strike or ignite and then regulate HID lamps. More traditional HID greenhouse lighting systems use electromagnetic ballasts consisting of a large, heavy transformer, an igniter and a capacitor. They are sturdy and functional, but in light of recent technological innovations, they carry many associated disadvantages.

The e-ballast’s digital circuitry overcomes electrical and physical disadvantages of electromagnetic systems. The heavy transformer, igniter and capacitor are replaced by solid-state digital circuits. There is also no incessant humming, and heat is significantly reduced.

There is more. The old electromagnetic system uses a high energy discharge (up to 4,000 volts) to ignite the HID lamp. E-ballasts use radio frequencies to ignite the lamp at a much lower level of energy. A softer ignition extends lamp life. The circuitry recognizes the type of lamp (MH or HPS) automatically.

Jim McClain, Global Development Partners, represents CEC-Newlighting, a company with a complete line (600w, 750w, 1000w) of UL-approved 277v e-ballasts and complete fixtures with reflectors with and without bulbs. He can be reached at

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