03 Glossary for Ballast

By Lee Parker,2014-08-21 19:16
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03 Glossary for Ballast


    AC (Alternating Current)

    Current that passes from the generator in one direction and then the other, alternately. Ambient sound levels

    "Background noise" generated by electrical and mechanical equipment operating in a building. Low ambient sound levels are desirable for hospitals, libraries and similar applications where high noise levels are unacceptable.

    Ambient Temperature

    The temperature of the atmosphere of surrounding environment.

    Amperes ("Amps")

    A measure of electrical current.

    ANSI (American National Standards Institute)

    Group that generates product performance standards for many U.S. industries.

    ANSI Watts

    Measurement of electrical power used by the ballast and lamps when tested per ANSI standards Anti-Arc

    Circuitry used to restart the lamps without resetting the power to the ballast


    Circuitry used to prevent striations or spiraling in energy saving lamps due to low temperature or low current operation

    Arc (Arc Tube)

    Intense luminous discharge formed by the passage of electric current across a space between two electrodes. Arcing of output leads

    Generation of an electrical arc between output leads of a ballast or output leads to ground. Asphalt silica sand mixture

    A mixture of asphalt and silica sand used to fill the cases of electromagnetic and electronic ballasts to dampen sound, protect from moisture, improve heat removal and increase reliability.


    Circuitry used to restart the lamps without resetting the power to the ballast


    A tapped winding transformer that changes the voltage available locally to the voltage required by a particular load.


    Device for starting and regulating fluorescent and high intensity discharge lamps.

    Ballast Cycling

    Intermittent operation due to high temperature condition of the ballast or ambient temperature, which causes the thermal protector to open and turn off the ballast. After cooling down, the thermal protextor closes, turning on the ballast and starts the heating cycle over again.

    Ballast Efficacy Factor (BEF)

    Measure used to compare various lighting systems based upon light output and input power. BEF = Ballast Factor x 100 / Input Watts

    Ballast Factor (BF)

    Measure of light output from lamp operated by commercial ballast, as compared to laboratory standard reference ballast specified by ANSI

    Ballast Losses


Power that is supplied to the ballast but is not converted into light energy.

    Ballast Noise "Hum"

    Sound made by operating Core & Coil assemblies in both electromagnetic and electronic ballasts, generated by the vibration of laminations in the electromagnetic field that transforms the voltage and current used by discharge lamps. The sound made by high frequency electronic ballasts is lower Than electromagnetic ballasts with some designs virtually inaudible.

    Ballast Performance Factors

    Measurements that allow the comparison of various ballasts in terms of their power efficiency and ability to produce light.

    Ballast Regulation

    The ability of a ballast to control lamp wattage (and therefore light output) when subject to changes in line voltage.

    Bottom Exit

    A configuration with leads or a wire-trap on the bottom or base of the ballast. This type of Configuration is usually used when the ballast is mounted on to a junction box plate.

    Burn-in test

    Test performed on electronic product that simulates conditions encountered in actual operation to weed out initial failures.

    Canadian Energy Standards

    Indicates that ballast complies with Canadian Energy Standards and meets the requirements of CAN/CSA-C654-M91.

    Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

    Association that generates product performance and safety standards for many Canadian industries. Capacitor

    Device in ballast that stores electrical energy.

    Centigrade (C)

    Celsius temperature scale where 0?C = 32?F and 100?C = 212?F.


    Marking on ballast that shows compliance with Federal Ballast Energy Law.

    Circuit Ballast

    Reactor, high reactance CWTA, CWE, Reg


    Windings of copper or aluminum wire around the core in electromagnetic ballast that transforms the voltage from input to output.

    Color Rendering Index (CRI)

    An international system used to rate a lamp''s ability to render object color. The higher the CR, the better colors appear.

    Conformal Coating

    Material that surrounds and adheres to components and protects them.

    Constant Wattage Autotransformer (CWA)

    An HID ballast in which the primary and secondary coils are electrically connected.


    Steel laminations of electromagnetic ballast that transforms electrical power from input to output. Core & Coil Ballast

    Another term for electromagnetic ballast.

    Correlated Color Temperature


    A specification of the color appearance of a lamp relating its color to that of a reference source heated to a particular temperature, measured in degrees Kelvin (K)

    Crest factor (Lamp Crest Factor)

    A measurement of current supplied by a ballast to start and operate thelamp.


    Marking on ballast that shows compliance with Canadian Ballast Energy Law.

    Decibel (dB)

    Unit of sound measurement.

    Design Lumens

    The amount of light that the lamp produces after it has operated for approximately 40 percent of its rated life. DC (Direct Current)

    An electrical current flowing in one direction only.

    Discharge Lamp

    A device that produces light by using an electric arc, rather than a filament, to create illumination. DALI (Digitally Addressable Lighting Interface)

    An industry standard system protocol that allows components from different manufacturers (ballasts, controls systems, sensors, controllers, switches, etc) to be mixed together seamlessly into complete systems. Efficacy

    Lumen output per unit of power supplied to the lamp (lumens per watt).

    Electrical Testing Laboratory (ETL)

    Independent electrical testing laboratory, which performs ballast testing.


    Metal filament that emits electrons in a fluorescent lamp.

    Electromagnetic Ballast

    A low frequency (50 or 60 Hz) ballast that uses a "Core & Coil" assembly to transform electrical energy (voltage and current) to start and operate fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. Electromagnetic Radiation

    Radiation originating in a varying electromagnetic field, such as visible light, radio waves, x-rays, and gamma rays.

    Electronic Ballast

    A ballast that, with the aid of electronic components converts 50 - 60 Hz. input voltage and current to high frequency (> 20,000 Hz.) to operate fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. EMI (Electromagnetic Interference)

    Any type of Electrical interference


    The electrode in a transistor where electrons originate


    A measure of work done by an electrical system over a given period of time. Expressed as Kilowatt-hours (kWh) ESCO

    Energy Saving Service Company

    Excessive Neutral Current

    Current overload created in the neutral wire of 4-wire, three phase Wye systems by load unbalance or high "third harmonic" current.

    FCC (Federal Communications Commission)


    Regulations Legally enforceable U.S. government standards for EMI and RFI that must be met by highly frequency electronic devices used in this country for Non-Consumer (Class A Industrial) or Consumer (Class B Residential) applications.


    Coated coil of special wire that emits electrons or light when heated.

    Filament Voltage

    Voltage applied to heat the lamp filament coil. Also called electrode or filament heating. Filter

    Functional grouping that limits interference feedback into the power source and protests internal ballast components.


    Feature within a ballast which gives you a choice of 5 different input



    Emission of visible light by the absorption of energy from another source.

    Fluorescent Lamp

    Gas filled lamp in which light is produced by the interaction of an arc with phosphors lining the lamp''s glass tube. footcandles (fc)

    Measure of light level on a surface that is being illuminated.


    The number of times per second that an alternating current system reverses from positive to negative and back to positive, expressed in cycles per second or hertz, Hz.

    Harmonic Distortion

    A measurement of the magnitude of voltage and current harmonics as compared with the amplitude of the fundamental frequency current.


    Refers to components of the overall frequency, an integral multiple of the fundamental sine wave frequency. Hertz (Hz)

    Current or voltage operating frequency equal to one cycle per second.

    High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamp

    A lamp containing a filled arc tube in which the active element becomes vaporized (a gaseous state) and is discharged into the arc stream to product light.

    High frequency ballast

    An electronic ballast that operates the lamps above 20 kHz - 20,000 cycles per second. High power factor ballast (HPF)

    Ballast with a power factor of 0.90 or greater.

    High Pressure Sodium (HPS) Lamp

    High Intensity Discharge light source which produce light by an electrical discharge sodium vapor operating at relatively high pressures and temperatures.

    High Reactance AutoTransformer Ballast (HX)

    This type of ballast can be used when the input voltage does not meet the starting voltage requirement for an HID lamp. The ballast will transform the input voltage to the required level.

    High Flux

    LEDs that are approximately 1.0 watts or more and provide a significantly high light intensity. Operate at 350mA. Hot Restart Time

    Time it takes for a High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamp to reach 90% of light after going fro on to off to on.


IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

    Organization of engineers that establishes standards for electrical and electronics industries. IES (Illuminating Engineering Society)

    Group of professional lighting engineers and designers.


    Emission of visible light by a heated material

    Incandescent Lamp

    Lamp in which light is produced by a filament heated by an electric current. Infrared Radiation

    Electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves Ignitor

    A device that generates a voltage pulse to start certain discharge lamps without having to pre-heat the electrodes.

    Initial Lumens

    The measure of the amount of light a lamp produces after it has been operating 100 hours. Input Voltage

    Voltage, from the power line, which the ballast uses to power fluorescent lamps. Input Watts

    See "ANSI Watts"

    Inrush Current

    Initial surge of current when an electrical device is turned on.

    Instant Start

    An electromagnetic or electronic lighting circuit without lamp filament heating that produces instant light.


    Multi-Voltage feature of Advance electronic ballasts that allow the ballast to operate from an input voltage range

    of 120 - 277V

    Kilohertz (KHz)

    1,000 Hertz (cycles per second).

    Kilowatt Hour (kwh)

    The standard measure of electrical energy and the typical billing unit used by electrical utilities for electricity.


    Layers of thin steel making up the "core" of a Core & Coil assembly. Lamp Current

    Ration of peak lamp current to RMS or average lamp operating current. Lamp Current Crest Factor

    See "Crest Factor"

    Lamp efficacy

    Lamp efficacy is lamp light output divided by lamp power (lumens/watt). Lamp Filament

    See "Filament"

    Lamp Flicker

    Rapid visible light change occurring in fluorescent lighting systems