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Ballasts

It amazes me how anyone can find the correct ballast for the job! We use specific ballasts for each lamp.  I have been asked why we do not use a multi tube ballast.  The answer is simple.  If you have one ballast that malfunctions you have NO light at all.  This way you can still have an operating lamp that maybe you have to move the tube but you are not without light.  (Unless you have a single (then we need to talk):-)).  Our DC ballasts are also hand crafted just like our lamps.  I know it can be frustrating at times when you are the one waiting for the order. But most of what we do is not automated and is crafted by a human being with their own hands.

Our 36 to 95 Watt (smart Ballasts) automatically switch from 110-240.  No worries take it with you and plug it in!

 Both the AC and the DC versions are overdriven with 13 watt ballasts. The 9 watt units use an "instant start ballast", which is the roughest on the bulbs for turning them on and off because they get the full power right away and each time a little of the coating on the filament gets burned off. I overdrive all of the 9 watt bulbs with 13 watt ballasts because it produces almost 50% more UV. With a standard 9 watt ballast, Philips rates their 9 watt bulbs for a lifetime of about 3,300 on/off cycles. The 13 watt ballasts are slightly harder on the filament, so we estimate about 3,000 on/off cycles. I have contracted with a company to test the life cycle of several of the lamps/tubes.

The 240 volt ballasts are not a stock item here in the USA, however, one of the major manufacturers does custom make them at three times the cost of the 115 volt versions. The 230 volt, 9 watt ballasts are bigger than the 110 volt versions and I cannot fit three of them into the enclosure, so I cannot make a three wavelength model that will plug directly into 230. For these reasons, I recommend using the DC models with a universal 12 volt power supply in countries that have 230 volt AC power.

As it stands now, I am limited to instant start ballasts on the 9 watt bulbs because the available lamps/tubes only have two connections exposed i.e. two pin bulbs.  

 Also, for all of the bigger bulbs/tubes, the ballasts I use are programmed start ballasts - when first powered up, the ballast sends a small amount of power to warm up the filament, then it increases the voltage until the bulbs "fires", then it ramps up the power until the lamp is at full power. The whole process takes 1 to 2 seconds, but it means you can turn the bulbs on and off up to 50,000 cycles before burning out the filaments.

For the bigger lamp fixtures, the ballasts I am using are called "programmed ballasts". Whenever power is applied, the ballast sends a specific amount of power to warm up the filament of the bulb/tube, then the ballast starts raising the voltage until the bulb/tube lights up (when the voltage drops due to the ionization of the gas), and then the ballast raises the current until the bulb/tube is at full power. The entire process takes a second or two every time the bulb is turned on. I spoke with the Electrical Engineer who designed the ballast and he said it was designed to be able to cycle a Philips bulb on and off for at least 50,000 cycles without burning up the filament. If you will be cycling the bulb on and off, this becomes important to you.

Here are some links to some very complete discussions of all aspects of fluorescent lamps and ballasts. The pages even discuss and show wiring diagrams:

 (**Please note that Way Too Cool LLC uses individual ballasts instead of multi tubes ballasts.  The reason is that if one ballasts goes out you still have 1-2 more for operating your lamp.  On the multi tube ballsts if something goes wrong you are out of light.**)

http://members.misty.com/don/f-lamp.html

http://home.howstuffworks.com/question337.htm