Lamps used in a house rarely use much energy, but when an entire warehouse or store uses lamps, they can drive up operating costs significantly. To reduce the amount of power used while still maintaining adequate lighting, an electronic ballast is used. These ballast units reduce the amount of power used by the lamp while ensuring the lamp still gets enough energy to light up. An electronic ballast is used with fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps and works through solid-state circuitry.
A lamp needs energy to light up, but the energy it draws is generally more than it really needs. To get the lamp closer to the necessary amount of energy rather than the excess it takes in, a ballast is connected to the lamp. Each ballast type is different but works by adding an electrical load to the lamp and then including a negative resistance and resistors to balance the energy. Inclusion of an electronic ballast will increase lamp life and lower operating costs.
An electronic ballast works specifically by using a solid-state circuitry design. In a solid-state design, the circuit is only made from solid pieces. The electrons, which would usually rush into the lamp without hindrance, are stopped or slowed down by these pieces. Aside from decreasing the overall amount of electrons in the lamp, the ballast ensures the lamp receives enough power to start and operate, and keeps the energy stable. This means a consistent amount of power will go into the lamp, rather than increasing or decreasing, as it would without the ballast.
Fluorescent lamps are one of the lamp types that use electronic ballasts. This is because fluorescent lamps use a low-pressure stream of energy, and the ballast is able to produce a more powerful light source, making the lamp work better overall. Another benefit to using a ballast with a fluorescent lamp is that it balances the energy going into the lamp. Fluorescent lamps are sensitive to energy changes, which can cause flickering. Electronic ballasts stop flickering, so the lamp will remain constant.
The other lamp that can use an electronic ballast is an HID lamp. These lamps are high-pressure, so the ballast is unable to make the light source more efficient. While the light will get no better, the ballast is able to increase the longevity of the HID lamp. HID lamps lose lighting potential over the course of their life, and the ballast is able to decrease these losses.