How a Fluorescent Ballast Works

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Homeowners might make great use of fluorescent lighting without ever really knowing what’s going on behind the scenes. When you plug in an incandescent light, current flows one direction through the socket, along the filament (which is usually tungsten or some alloy) then back down through the socket.

When the current flows along the filament, the filament resists this. As the energy is arrested in the filament, it gets hotter and releases some of the energy as light, though it is released as heat as well. This process is known as electroluminescence, and it is familiar enough to homeowners, but it is not the same process by which fluorescent lights work.

Fluorescent lights produce their characteristic cool white light via fluorescence, which is the process by which ‘fluorescent’ materials produce visible light when irradiated by ultraviolet light, which is produced within the inner tube of a fluorescent light bulb.

The incandescent lights mentioned above do not require special equipment to operate, but fluorescent tubes and other fluorescent lights do. Among them is a device called a fluorescent ballast, which is a part of the light fixture and necessary not only for starting the lamp but also for ensuring the basic operationality of the lamp as well.

Why It’s Necessary

A fluorescent ballast does not just protect and extend the lamp life of the fluorescent light. It is also required for the lamp to operate at all. For example, if any types of lamps (fluorescent lamps, that is) were to be plugged into line voltage without a ballast, the lamps would uncontrollably increase their power draw.

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This would cause the lamp to heat up and burn out very quickly. In truth, the lamp might be rendered inoperable from the damage in such little time that it wouldn’t ever produce any light in the first place.

These ballast fixtures prevent this and extend the lamp life while ensuring operability in two ways. They not only limit but regulate both the current and the voltage supplied to and drawn by the lamp. In that way, the lamp is exposed to only the proper voltage and draws only the current necessary to ensure the right light output.

Because of this, a fluorescent ballast is also useful for maintaining the quality of light of a fluorescent lamp as well as for ensuring the energy-efficient operation of the lamp, for which they are well known.

There are several types of lighting ballasts, including magnetic ballasts and electronic ballasts, but today probably the majority of them are electronic ballasts. The reason for this is that magnetic ballasts in the past often presented problems with slow starts, humming, buzzing, and flickering.

Modern electronic ballasts are designed to operate on superior terms and offer better start methods. Some of them are even called instant start ballasts that allow the light to reach its full brightness much faster. In addition, these modern ballasts rarely, if ever, present problems such as humming, buzzing, ringing, flickering, or flashing.

Visit Atlanta Light Bulbs for More Information

As you can see, a fluorescent ballast is a critical component of a fluorescent light fixture and circuit, as they cannot operate without them. If you’re looking for more information on ballasts or just want to see what’s for sale and how they look, you can solve all of those issues in a fell swoop with a visit to Atlanta Light Bulbs.

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Visit their website,, where you can find all of the above information and then some. Their team of customer service reps is always available for help, so if you need more, just call them up at 1-888-988-2852 and they’ll be glad to assist you.

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