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Differences in Metal Halide Ballast Types

8371 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  SteveNichols
I am wondering if someone could tell me the downside/upside of the various types of MH ballasts? I see that electronic ballasts are more efficient, while magnetic are less so. Does does it mean when it says that it is more efficient, does that mean that it helps bulbs last longer or that it costs less to run? Has anyone found that the difference in price is worth it?
Thanks again,
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Electronic ballasts are more efficient, easier to hook up, compatible with more bulbs (they fire all types), run cooler, yet are generally less reliable than a magnetic ballast (from what I could gather).

Magnetic ballasts are specific to the type of bulb they fire (whether it be pulse or probe start), heavy, inefficient, they run hot, they're more difficult to hook up, yet they'll run reliably for years.

Efficiency has to do with how much electricity they convert into light. A more efficient ballast draws less power to light the bulb to the same intensity as a less efficient ballast.

Bulbs generally last for the same amount of time regardless of what they're fired by. Usually bulb life ranges between 12-18 months before needing replacement due to spectrum shift.

I can't personally comment on the price disparity because I don't have any experience with electronic ballasts, but the people that use them tend to really like them.

I went with a magnetic MagnaTek ballast for my halide light. It's worked great so far though it suffers from the drawbacks I mentioned.

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E-ballast don't save much electricity. For example: a 400 watt ballast takes about 50 watts to run itself and 400 watts for the 400 watt light bulb. Total energy to drive the ballast and bulb is therefore 450 watts. An E-ballast saves 30% or so in energy as advertised. This savings is only on the 50 watts driving the ballast NOT the 400 watts for the bulb. 30% of 50 watts is a total savings of about 15 watts. That doesn't translate to much. It will always take 400 watts to drive a 400 watt light bulb. The energy saving is on the ballast only-NOT the bulb and ballast.
I don't know too much about the use for these ballasts as related to aquariums right now, but the electronic ballast offered by advance claims to be able to dim to 50%. It sure would make for a nice sunrise/set for our inhabitants. These ballasts run the pulse start, giving a higher lumen output fo r the wattage. Read more light, same wattage. I run tar simply because I can get them for free. They run forever, too. I have seen them in factories for well over 20 years.
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