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Electronic Ballasts? >Not!<

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by JD, Jun 15, 2007.

  1. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    My first life in the lighting business ended around 1990 when my back gave out and I had some health issues. (Happy to say I am ok now.) Anyway, before I sold the business the trend had been toward electronic ballasts on everything. I remember getting some Ultra-arcs and thinking how much lighter they were then Super Troupers. I remember thinking how in a few years, all these heavy transformer ballasts would be gone, and how ironic it was that my back went out before that..... Fast forward 15 years to when I got back in the business.... Imagine my surprise to find that many HMI and other arc units still used transformer ballasts! What happened? Granted, a transformer ballast has the life of a cinderblock, and you won't have to worry about some little drive transistors living their life 200 milliseconds away from death, but did ballast technology actually freeze after 1990?? I was shopping for some used equipment and kept seeing "Newly Rebuild Ballast" in the description line. Gezzzzz! So, here's the question to all of you who worked those years from 1990 to 2004; What has been your experience with electronic ballasts? Did manufacturers embrace them and then back off? There is very little talk about them now other than some products use them, and some don't.
     
  2. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Alrighty then, I suspect that since there have been no replies on this thread that the e/ballast vs the magnetic ballast is not a problem these days. Maybe just the manufacturer's preference or economy / weight issue.
     
  3. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    dang, I was actually curious to see what responses would come about from this topic.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    This sounds like a job for the big man. Ship?
     
  5. bslproductions

    bslproductions Member

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    The difference between magnetic and electronic ballasts as it was described to me by a collegue is as follows: Electronic ballasts are better. Here's why: They reduce/remove lamp flicker, the lamps last longer, and they have the capasity for auto voltage sensing. They are also usually 30lbs or so lighter. Magnetic ballasts are cheaper, but are more prone to failure and usually have to be manually reconfigured for different voltages.
     
  6. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Odd.. I never had a magnetic fail. Not much to them, a transformer, couple of caps, and a striker module. On the other hand we used to keep spare Ultra-arc E-ballasts around because we would loose them at times. The auto-voltage is a good point, as well as the flicker. The biggest drawback I always saw was the weight of the magnetics. Not sure about the cost savings. The mag ballasts for our satellites were priced twice as much as the Ultra-arc E-ballast. (at least in the late 1980's.)
     
  7. bslproductions

    bslproductions Member

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    On most of the newer fixtures, you can save approx $1-2K by getting a magnetic ballast. I should also rephrase my previous statement: On magnetic ballasts over 575w, the caps have a finite lifetime and can explode if they fail under load. Its not a huge problem for rental/touring fixtures because they will most likely have been PM'd before they fail. However, on installations, I always recommend/prefer an electronic ballast.

    One big plus to electronic bal. also is that if your location has crappy power (like most of Maryland/DC Area, Thanks Pepco!) it will not matter. Sometimes the magnetic's won't work if their is too big a variance.
     

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