Ballast Basics

How to change a ballast, A&P Home Electric, Ballast

Looking to upgrade your lighting in your home or business to make it more efficient? Do you notice a light flickering or hear a loud and constant hum?  Then you need to know about ballasts.

What is a ballast?  

A ballast regulates the amount of electricity reaching a light bulb to prevent it from quickly burning out. If you hear an annoying hum or your light is flickering it may be a degraded ballast. All gas discharge lamps linear fluorescent, compact fluorescent and HID use ballasts.

Simply put the ballast starts the lamp and controls the operation of the lamp. A ballast can last 20 years, so changing them is rare. However, cold weather and poor quality bulbs can limit the lifespan.

Different types of ballasts.  

Ballasts come in three different types, and choosing the right one depends on what you need for your specific project.

Instant start circuits turn on very fast and use a high starting current. If one light in the fluorescent light fails, then the second one will continue to work. Most electronic ballasts are instant start circuits. However, this type of ballast will result in a shorter lamp life.

In contrast, programmed start circuits have a longer lamp life. It has a delayed start because it first has to first heat up. The key to maintaining an optimum electrode temperature.  With this type of ballast, when one side of the lamp goes out, so does the other.  

A parallel programmed circuits have the same slow startup and longer lamp life, but when one lamp goes out the other stays on.

What is a ballast factor?

Electronic ballast has a ballast factor, which is a multiply that reports what percentage of the light produced in the laboratory will be produced by a particular lamp and ballast system. It helps deliver the appropriate light level into the space for the least amount of watts.

How to change your ballast

Changing a ballast is something you can tackle on your own if you have the right tools. The project is fairly simple, and here are the steps you should take.

Step one: turn off the electricity to prevent any injury.

Step two: remove the cover to the light and the fluorescent light bulbs.

Step three: Disconnect the wires to the degraded ballast and uninstall it.

Step four: Strip the ends of the wires on the ballasts if they are not already bare. Connect the wires with the matching group wires and black wires. Twist the wires together so that there is a complete connection. Put a wire nut over the wires and screw it on. Wrap electrical tape over the wire nut to secure.

Step five: Reassemble the fixture and turn the electricity back on.

We can help

Do you have any questions about faulty fixtures or electrical problems in your home? Let us help you. Our team of experts can get the electric in your home back in shape quickly. Contact us for a free estimate at 405-326-6117.


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