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[APD] Re: Electronic ballasts

I'm coming out of lurking mode to ask a question about Magnetek Triad Electronic ballasts. I am thinking of retrofitting my AGA twin tube strip light -36 inch T-8- to a triple tube electronic fixture. The ballast recommended by my companies supplier is: B332I120RH for $22.00. This ballast will run three F25T8 lamps. Voltage 120. Line current 0.60 Amps. Input Power 68 watts. Power Factor >.95. Ballast Factor 0.92. Ballast Efficiency Factor 1.35. THD <20%. Min. Start Temp 0 F. 9.5 inch long, 2.40 inch wide, 1.55 inch high.

Seems about right. Power factor > 0.95 is really good, BTW... Power factor is basically a measure of how "nice" a piece of equipment is in the way it presents its load to the electric utility.

The question is: how does this compare with ballasts available in LFS that cost in the range of $50 to $80? I don't want to mention any brand names. Am I really getting something worthwhile by buying one sold for the Marine hobby compared to this Magnetek Triad ballast?

First, I doubt you'll find any aquarium specialty lighting manufacturers specifying their equipment to the degree that Magnetek ballast is. Also, in the *vast majority* of specialty lights, you'll find a standard ballast inside the specialty fixtures. I know for a fact that a certain big manufacturer of aquarium-specific MH lights uses Advance ballasts for example. Usually the difference is that the store-bought light fixture will have an enclosure and will be pre-wired where if you buy the ballast separately you'll have to wire it yourself in an enclosure you'll have to provide. It is often cheaper to build your own lighting setup (hence the amount of DIY info on the list :-), especially if your setup is going to be large or unusual.

If you have the time and the skill, you can save some money building your own fixture, although if you can get a suitable fixture for $50 it might be hard to beat using DIY. Remember that in addition to the ballast you'll need an enclosure -- which will be at least about $10 -- plus possibly shipping costs. You'll also need wire, connectors, etc. Ultimately it is your call to make. IMHO, building has usually been cheaper for me since I tend to build large or unusual setups, and I have a lot of electrical parts already on hand. Also, with DIY you can make your light do *exactly* what you want in terms of function.

The next question is: will Triton T8 lamps light up and work properly with an electronic ballast? I am currently using them on the AGA which has magnetic ballasts and starters.

I haven't tried it myself, but I'd be surprised if the electronic ballast couldn't light the Triton lamp. My understanding is that the electronic fluorescent ballasts are pretty well developed, and it is the MH electronic ballasts that can be fussy about the bulbs they'll work with.


Waveform Technology
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