When light bulbs were a new invention, a device was placed within the bulbs.They were called ballasts and controlled electricity flow(or called external driver). Today’s LED fixtures and LED light bulbs use a driver to do the same thing, just at a much more precise level.
The purpose of the light ballast was to limit the amount of current in an electrical circuit. This device is known as a Ballast. If this was not used in the light bulbs or tube lights, there remained a risk of current rising to a destructive level. Ballast is still used in bulbs and tube lights to avoid current rise in the lights. Household light bulbs now use a mini transformer inside. Metal halide, mercury vapor, and HID are the prime examples of lights using external ballasts.
Function of a Ballast
A ballast regulates the current to the lamps and provides sufficient voltage to start the lamps. It makes sure that the amount of current being provided to the lamp is not more than the specification of the light. Without a ballast, a lamp or a bulb will rapidly increase its current draw and it can become uncontrollable as well.
When a ballast is present in a lamp, the power becomes stable, and even if such lamps are connected to high power sources, the ballast will regulate the energy and avoid the current rise.
Why LEDs don’t use a Ballast?
LEDs don’t need a ballast because of a number of reasons. First, large amounts of current aren’t needed in LED Light bulbs. Secondly, the life of LED bulbs increases to a significant level because of the absence of Ballast. Thirdly, the size of LEDs is much smaller than bulbs and tube lights, which leaves no extra space for a ballast to fit in. Lastly, with the development of LED technology, most of the LED Corn Bulbs are driver built in design, so there no need any ballast at all.
Research also shows that the absence of a ballast make LEDs energy efficient and they provide better light. The driver provides cleaner power and the LED lights have less noise and distortion as a result.
What happens when I change to LED Bulbs or use LED retrofit kits?
When changing to LED, you will need to bypass or remove the ballast. This is usually easily done as ballasts were to be serviced. You then run power straight to the socket if using an E39 LED corn light bulb or to the LED driver if using an LED retrofit Kit.
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