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.