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Re: overdriving fluoro bulbs

Hi Vincent:

One can never say that it is safe at it definitely exceeds the manufacturers
design, but from experience all I can tell you is that I have been doing it
for about 2 months and know people that have been doing it much longer with
no ill effects. I use Advance Electronic Ballasts (available at Grainger's)
and GE electronic ballasts (available at Home Depot). You CAN NOT use
magnetic ballasts for this.

The reason electronic ballasts work is because each output is independently
driven, while on magnetics each output is actually a tap off an inductor
(transformer). Connecting 2 or more of those taps together actually sets up
a kind of "tranformer inside a transformer" deal and your magnetic ballast
will fry almost instantly.

Connecting the taps together on an electronic adds the power together, but
not as efficiently as people think. I mean by that, if you have 32W on 1
output, adding 2 together will not give you 64W as the ballast and bulb are
not designed to handle that much power, so you loose some in the
translation. What I have estimated by doing my power and lumens readings is
that by overdriving a a 32T8 bulb to 2x you get the equivalent of about 55
watt, 3x about 74 watt, 4x about 95 watt (your milleage may vary depending
on brand of ballasts and bulbs). The ballasts that I have so far tried seem
to show no problems with this, other than getting a bit warmer than usual.
Each output is electronically protected so it would be unlikely to damage
the ballast itself.

The bulbs is something entirely different. While most modern bulbs are
designed to last years in normal use, overdriving them shortens their life
dramatically. I understand that most overdrivers change their bulbs after
about 3 months or so, but a 3-4 dollars each it is worth it in most people's

I have a setup on my 55 gallon that uses 4 advance ballasts, each overdring
one bulb to 4x, and the result is nothing short of expectacular.

If you plan on doing this, get the ballasts that are designed to drive 4 X
F32T8, and use one each for each bulb. If you need help with the electric
connections email me, I am and electrician and have some small experience
doing these kind of jury rigs.

Again, do not use magnetic ballasts, anything like this and they fry!

Art Batista

>  Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 03:00:08 -0800 (PST)
> From: Vincent Chye <mtchye at perthmail_com>
> Subject: overdriving fluoro bulbs
> Hey guys
> I missed the discussion on overdriving fluoros. Is it safe to do so?
> As I understand it, it is the driving of a lower wattage tube with a
> wattage ballast. So far ppl have been doing this with electronic ballasts,
> is there any reason why it won't work with magnetic ballasts?
> I guess what I'm trying to ask is if I can run a 30W T8 tube with a 36W
magnetic ballast...
> thanks for any help