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Re: Re:ballasts - convince me

> >I can replace parts in my current setup for YEARS before it
>  >would cost me as much as one electronic ballast, and other
>  >saving me an occasional trip to the hardware store, I get 
>  >no benefit for the extra money spent.
>  >So am I a fool, or a beacon of common sense?  I stand by to
>  >be flamed :)
>  There is no question that the shoplight approach will grow plants just
>  fine - even with $2 coolwhite lamps. I started that way and I guess a
>  high percent of people start that way. 
>  Electronic ballasts have several advantages.
>  1. They save energy- using a conservative estimate of 30%, if you run
>  your lights 12hrs/day at $.08/KWH you would save about $17/yr. In long
>  run the electronic ballast will actually cost you less.
>  2. They run cooler and quieter
>  3. They last longer than the magnetic ballasts
>  4. They drive the lights in parallel so you can run any number of
>  lights you want and if one goes out the other stay lit.
>  Finally you should go to a lighting distributor or mail order through
>  a supply place like McMaster Carr to buy you ballast.  The price I've
>  seen at these places for a electronic ballast that will run 4 lamps
>  always seems to be around $38.
Actually, good magnetic ballasts will outlast electronic ballasts because they
are not succeptable (sp?) to damage by voltage spikes.  Some "shoplights" use
decent ballasts and some use such cheap ballasts that they burn out the lamps
really quick (due to high "crest factor", or "harmonic distortion").

A few years ago, the Dept. of Energy (my apologies to non-USA readers, this
won't apply to you) outlawed the most popular 48" 40W fluorescent lamps.  They
said that since the light output falls off over the life of the lamp, we would
not notice the lower light output of 34W "energy saving" or "watt miser"
lamps.  The problem is, watt miser or ES lamps are not really compatible with
older magnetic ballasts; the ballast may be noisy or the ballast or lamp may
burn out prematurely.  And some of the 99 cent lamps, designated "Shoplite",
are only 25W and do not produce much light.

Okay, enough ranting.  If you can find cheap "shop" fixtures or "troffer"
fixtures (for suspended ceilings) that are designed for T8 lamps and warn you
not to use T12's, use them.  It doesn't matter if it has an electronic ballast
or a "high efficiency" magnetic ballast.  T8 lamps are cheaper and more
efficient than T12's and last a really long time.  

I use the GE F32T8/SPX41 lamps and my plants love them.  The SPX50 might look
more natural, and there might even be an SPX65 lamp available.  My fixtures
are ancient ones designed for T12 lamps that I retrofitted with T8 electronic
"high light output" ballasts because of the DOE fiasco I mentioned earlier.
The ballasts cost about $25 US a couple of years ago.

best regards,