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General Lighting

I Got 99 Problems, But a Switch Ain’t One

Some linear fluorescent lamps burn out quickly from being turned on and off. This problem is often a result of the ballast in the luminaire. I, Dr. Bulb, am about to show you how to solve this problem. The doctor is in.

The problem is instant start ballasts, and the solution to this problem is the program start ballast. Ballasts are a component of luminaires that serve to limit the amount of current in an electrical circuit. These are used in fluorescent lamps because the tubes would otherwise be damaged by the current running through them. Program start ballasts use minimally more energy than other ballasts, but help the lamp last longer by gently starting the light fixture instead of slamming it with voltage which protects the lamp. It is a more intelligent, newer technology. This helps especially in environments where the lights are turned on and off frequently. With program start ballasts, you can also use an occupancy sensor without diminishing the life of the lamps.

Where other ballasts blast current through lights to turn them on, program start ballasts keep the lamps warmed up, ready to start at any moment. This means that the voltage to start the lights is lower, and therefore, the lamp is better protected. These come standard on T5 and T5HO light fixtures, and are an option on T8 luminaires. A good way to check if luminaires have program start ballasts is to check if they are a CEE Certified Product, or to ask an Access Fixtures lighting specialist. So, beware the switch no more! Turn your lights (with program start ballasts) on and off at your leisure!

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