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Re: Ultralux Ballasts

Diana Berberich said encouraging things about the ultralux
ballast and noted the following, wo which I add some
further comments:

> . . .It is wired to 4
> tubes that are 25 watts each and are 3 ft long.  I was
> amazed how much cooler the ballast runs compared to
> the one that was on there originally. 

"Cooler" is very good sign that it is running the bulbs at
lower current than the previous ballast.  Electronic
ballasts makers sometimes design their electronic ballasts
aimed at the aquatic hobbies to underdrive bulbs, which
lets the bulbs last longer.  The fact that they are
electronic and high frequency means you get more light per
watt than a magnetic ballast would give.  So sometimes the
amount of light is not less than a mag ballast but the
lights are driven with less current and last longer.  This
is how IceCap, for example, seems to pitch its fluorescent
ballasts -- although it apparently doesn't like to say that
it is "underdriving" bulbs because that sounds "bad" to
some folks.

> Also, when it
> lights the tubes you don't hear the clicking and
> arcing or get a flickering start that normally goes on
> with regular ballasts.  

You shouldn't hear any clicking unless there is an
electromechanical starter, those old-fashioned little cans.

>  I guess that is the soft start
> feature that prevents shortening the bulbs life span. 

Or else it's just an "Instant Start" ballast, where the
electronics produce a suffuciently high initial voltage
pulse to start the arcing without runing current through
the filaments as heaters.

> I have had no problems and am happy with the ballast. 
> I would buy another if I needed one.  So, I would
> recommend them. I am no lighting genius - I just used
> the "Krib" archives to get a notion of what to look
> for in a ballast and then after finding possible
> candidated on the internet, I phoned ultralux and
> spoke to the engineer.  

Let Diana's fingers do the walking for you ;-)

> He was very helpful and polite
> answering all my questions including the stupid ones. 
> Now, I wonder if the same ballast can run compact
> florescents or is that some different kind of
> technology with ballasts that have to be uniquely
> designed to run them?

It's not the technology, so to speak, it just needs to
interact with the bulb to produce the correct voltage and
current, within ranges that the bulb can withstand.

Hard to say what works with what.  There are so many
different flo bulbs, but then they accept a wide range of
operating conditions and ballasts are usually made wide
range too.  But it's best to check with the ballast
manufacturer first or else test some inexpensive bulbs. 
Worst case, is it overdrives the bulbs and burns them out
prematurely -- I've done that with IceCaps and some 2 foot
NO bulbs.  

Arc lights, such as flo lights are strange.  Their
resistance changes when they light up!  The gas inside
becomes a plasma!  Their resistance (and thus the voltage
that runs across them and how much current gets pushed
through) depends on the both the bulb and the ballast --
which is why just any old ballast doesn't necessarily work
on just any old arc bulb.  But you might be amazed what
works with what.  Home Depot carries some 4x32 electronic
ballast for four foot T8 that will run PCs, overdrive two
T8s nicely, and do a few other things you might not expect.
 Check the archives and you can find Wayne Jones's
experience testing these ballasts

Scott H.

PS:  Hey, Diana, the Oriental Sword (from NEC) is doing
well -- still small but "splitting" into two plants :-) .

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