how to maintain your ballast and help lengthen its life
Article by Susan Slobac
Smart individuals who practice hydroponic gardening understand the value of using HID lamps and hps grow lights. Each of these types of lights that are used in the greenhouse or home require a ballast for their proper function. Correct maintenance of your hydroponics equipment will help ensure its long life, thereby saving you money.
High Intensity Discharge lights are favored by horticulturists and gardeners because they produce more light and a greater intensity of light than other types of lamps. These lights consist of a quartz or alumina inner tube within a glass lamp. Inside this tube you will find tungsten electrodes, gas, and metals. When you turn the electricity on, an electrical arc flows over the electrodes. The gas inside the tube helps illuminate the lamp initially, and the metal produces a continuous light as long as the electricity stays on. A ballast is used to control the flow of the electrical current to the HID bulb. With no ballast, uncontrolled current would flow into the bulb unchecked, blowing up the bulb, so the ballast is vital to its proper operation.
When you are using artificial light indoors to grow plants, what you are trying to do is imitate the light that would ordinarily come from natural sunlight. Plants use this light to produce food for the plant, to ensure its proper growth and reproductive functions. Light falls into two broad spectrums in relation to plant growth. The blue spectrum is used by plants when they are in the early stages of growing. The red and orange spectrums facilitate a plant’s ability to produce flowers, which occurs in later stages of growth. In terms of HID lamp use, none of this light would be possible without the use of a ballast.
Although magnetic ballasts were first used with hydroponic grow lamps, electronic and digital ballasts have gained in popularity. They offer a greater degree of control over the electrical current, with the electrical and digital units helping the light systems to function at a greater efficiency for a lower cost than is possible with a magnetic ballast. They are less bulky and have a lower weight than magnetic ballasts, and also run much quieter and start quicker than the magnetic units.
As is typical with many types of electronic circuitry, one aspect of maintenance of the ballast that is crucial is to run the ballast at the proper temperature level. To neglect this one simple fact is to greatly reduce the life of your ballast. You can lengthen the effective life of the electrical ballast by ensuring that the ambient temperature is cooler than the recommended fixture temperature. You can as much as double the life of your ballast easily by cooling the air around it.
About the Author
In this article, Susan Slobac discusses maintaining and caring for your ballast. Since discovering how easy it is to grow food all year round, indoor gardening has become a way of life for her. Susan features seasoned advice to help aid you in choosing the right grow lamps for your needs.