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Re: IceCap Ballasts -- What's the watts or who's on first

Wayne Jones,

I had read some of your older posts about IceCaps.  I know that IceCap
doesn't release quantified info on peformance except when comparing 4
110 watt bulbs on tar ballasts.  That's what prompted Abbot and
Costello allusion in th subject.
> I am not sure I am understanding the question. Do you mean how much
> does
> the ballast draw with those lamps? I have tried asking Icecap a
> couple
> of times about ballast factors but they don't answer. >I don't think
> that
> the wattage drawn by the lamps or the wattage drawn by the ballast is
> nearly as important as the ballast factor with the various lamp
> combinations.

Since it was so unlikely that that info was released or avaialable, the
wattage info alone would be better than nothing.  At least it would let
one make some predictions about heat.

> I know it is a lot to ask as there are so many
> possibilities but they could at least give the factors for a few
> common
> combinations. Without the B.F. no accurate prediction of light level
> can
> be made. 

True enough but I'll bet they are techinically rated at better than .9,
nothing fancy.

> You could just measure how much the ballast draws or the
> voltage and amperage across each lamp and just assume the lamp
> efficiency didn't drop a whole lot if you wanted a rough answer. You
> probably need a pretty sophisticated true RMS meter capable of
> measuring
>  high frequencies.

Yes, I was hoping someone had done this by now.  I don't have the set
up and bulbs for the testing.

> The wattage a lamp draws is partly a result of the
> diameter and length of lamp. 

But generally, flourescent lamps will draw enough current to flash out
unless the ballast (thus aptly named) chokes back the current and
limits what the bulb gets.

> 4 2 footers in parallel appear to draw
> about 1/2 as much as 4 4 footers of the same diameter. Two 2 footers
> should in series should draw about the same a 1 4 footer. Changing
> the
> number of lamp circuits seems to actually slightly increase the draw
> on
> the remaining circuits.

I think two bulbs tend to run higher than 4 bulbs.  Whther they are
overdriven depends on what the bulb can stand.
> It appears to me that Icecap is not really unique in any way. Any
> electronic ballast exhibits the same ability to drive a very large
> combination of lamps. 

I think that is absolutely correct.  Fulhams do the same things.  But
Fulham makes 9 models instead of just 3, and in a couple of different
form factors.  However, I would add that Icecaps do run cooler than
Fulhams and might be better made than a few of the buggers out there.

> As long as you do not try to run a lamp below
> the
> current required to ignite and run the lamp and as long as you do not
> overdrive the lamp to such an extent that it destroys it you are OK.

Yes, but overdriven lamps will usually die faster and will always run
hotter than they would if not overdrive.  The flipside is what IceCap
brags about, bulbs last longer, generally, if underdriven.  If you
bring up the die faster scenario, they don't deny it bu they claim that
if you use fans then the bulbs will be okay -- that's not quite true,
not quite false, imo.

> The
> more you overdrive the less efficient the lamp will operate and the
> sooner it will fail. There are sign ballasts that are virtually
> identical in specification to Icecap ballasts. There are even sign
> ballasts that are much larger than Icecap Ballasts. I suspect that
> lamps
> driven in this way are not always being driven in the most efficient
> possible way. There has to be a trade off between versatility and
> efficiency. Otherwise why not just drive all lamps with the same
> ballast.

Well that's just what IceCap says you can do with its 430 and 630
ballasts.  But they don't hint at what you are trading off for that
versatility.  You noticed this and posted about it quite some time ago
but IceCap is still marketed the same way -- in fact, many reeefers
seem to think they can beat PCs with VHOs so long as they use IceCaps
because they run cooler than PCs.  Actually, only the underdriven bulbs
run cooler than setup where bulbs are not underdriven 9whether on
IceCaps or not, whether using PC bulbs or not.

There are other choices out there for good electronic ballasts,
including ones that are better matches for secific sizes of bulbs.

So does anyone have a contact for purchasing Fulhams just one or two
ballasts at a time?  Someone recently said they paid about twelve bucks
for the Fulham Workhorse 5 (I think that was it), which will drive two
55 watt PCs or a 96 watt PC at about 110-120 watts.  But I couldn't
find such a source.

Scott H.

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