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Re: Ballasts for flourescent lights

Diana wrote:

Hello Folks:
     How does a ballast "know" if it is driving a
florescent tube or compact tubes like I have from AH
Supply?  I replaced an old burned out ballast with an
electronic ballast called the UltraLux which has some
nice features.  I can use 4, 24 inch tubes up to 4, 96
inch tubes and the ballast supposedly adjusts to drive
them.  I am not an electrical wizard by any means. But
here is what they say on their web site:


   Operates any combination of lamps (T5, T8, T10, and
   Operates 1 to 4 lamps both 1 & 2 lamp or 3 & 4 lamp
120V, 50/60Hz
   Will work on lower voltage systems and is not
affected by brown outs.
   Operates as rapid start or instant start
   Operates multiple lamps from 25 up to 50 watts
(F20, F25, F30, F32, F40, F60 lamps) (2', 3', 4', 5'
   And it's *dimmable down to 50% light level with an
inexpensive dimmer!

   I did call them and speak to them and got answers
that made me feel that this might solve my problems.
I am pleased with it driving my 4, 36 inch tubes.  But
I would like to convert or add some 36 watt or 55watt
compact florescents (the double tubed jobs).  Is there
any reason to believe that this ballast or any other
ballast that is designed for single tubes should not
be appropriate to drive compact florescents?  I have
asked this question before but never got an answer
from anyone.
Thanks, Diana


I think that ballast is probably basically a 430 mA standard ballast
although it is not likely that it is actually that much per output. I am
thinking a pretty low ballast factor with F40 lamps as they only claim a
1.3 B.F. with T8 F32 lamps. Undimmed it likely overdrives most of the
T8s but it would somewhat underdrive a 55 watt lamp. I am not sure it
would work with the 55 watt PCs. I suspect not as they indicate a
maximum of 50 watts per lamp so both the current and the wattage would
be too low. There are GE Biax lamps available that are 50 watts. I don't
see where they claim you can use a 96 watt lamp.

The main claim to fame of this ballast is that it has anti arcing
technology which means that you can overdrive lamps without damaging the
cathodes. If this is true you wouldn't really be able to tell as that
ballast probably doesn't overdrive lamps to such an extent that it would
make that much of a difference anyway. Overdriving up to 20%, even for
frequently switched situations, is fine with any electronic ballast for
the T8 32 watt lamps. For once a day aquarium usage I suspect you can
overdrive 60% without any trouble at all so I wouldn't bother to turn
down the dimmer unless you wanted less light. The overdriving of rapid
start T12 lamps is more of a no no but this ballast is not really doing
that so I don't think it would be a problem either. I think the dimming
feature is very nice. You could provide more light than you need and as
the lamps dim or your light requirements increased you could just dial
in more light.