Definition - What does Ballast mean?
In artificial lighting required for hydroponics, the ballast is the component of the system that regulates the voltage that each individual grow light receives.
Without a ballast to regulate voltage, compact fluorescent lights and high-intensity discharge (HID) lights uncontrollably draws so much current from a high-voltage source all at once that they will often overheat and burn out within seconds.
There are three basic types of ballasts growers can choose from: magnetic, electronic, or digital. Magnetic ballasts have been around for years and basically use an electromagnetic system to regulate the voltage of the lighting. They are bulky, inefficient, and produce a lot of heat.
Electronic ballasts don’t use a heavy wire and steel core; instead they rely on electronic components to regulate the voltage a bulb receives.
A digital ballast integrates the latest computer technology, which makes them much smaller, able to operate at a much cooler temperature, and far more efficient than the other two types of ballasts.
MaximumYield explains Ballast
The ballast is an essential component some lighting systems as it controls the amount of voltage a light receives. Initially, the ballast provides the high voltage required to stimulate an arcing of the electrodes, but then quickly drops the voltage to the steady, low voltage required by a fluorescent lamp.
In order to maintain an optimal electrode temperature, which is essential to long lamp life, some ballasts have a separate circuit that provides low voltage to heat the lamp electrodes while starting the lamp and during lamp operation.
The ballast’s output should precisely match the electrical requirements of the light it regulates. Most often the ballasts are designed to operate up to around four lights at a specific voltage. All HID bulbs require the use of a ballast. The ballast can be bought separately or as part of a complete lighting system package.