Many designers struggle with the question if they should use Magnetic or Electronic control gear for the lighting in a project. This newsletter reveals some of the factors to take into account to make a balanced decision on the control gear.

Controlling the power consumption of lighting fixtures has changed from being a trend to become a necessity in our search for a more sustainable use of energy resources. Various types of control equipments have been developed over the years. From the development of the conventional resistance to the electromagnetic ballast all the way to new electronic ballast’s. 



To understand this day by day evolving device we have to define what a ballast is: Ballasts are used where a load or device does not regulate its own current consumption well enough. If such a device were connected to a constant-voltage power supply, it would draw an increasing amount of current until it was destroyed or caused the power supply to fail. That’s why an intervening component was invented; the ballast.

Ballast is a piece of equipment required to control the starting and operating voltages of electrical gas discharge lights.

Examples of gas discharge light sources include fluorescent and neon lights and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. The term lighting ballast can refer to any component of the circuit intended to limit the flow of current through the light, from a single resistor to more complex devices.

Electromagnetic lighting ballast uses
electromagnetic induction to provide the starting and
operating voltages of a gas discharge light. Inside
each is a coil of wire and an electromagnetic field that
together transform voltage. Some also include an
igniter for high-power applications.

Electromagnetic ballasts limit the flow of current to the light but do not change the frequency of the input power. The lamp then illuminates on each half-cycle of the power source. This is why many fluorescent and neon lights visibly flicker. Since the light illuminates on half-cycles, the rate of flicker is twice the frequency of the power source, meaning the light will flicker at 100Hz or 120Hz.



Electronic ballast (sometimes also called control
gears) uses solid state circuitry to transform voltage,
but unlike electromagnetic ballasts, can also alter the
frequency of power. This means that electronic
lighting ballast can greatly reduce or eliminate any
in the lamps. Because it uses solid-state
circuitry instead of magnetic coils, it is also more
and therefore runs cooler.


What to choose. Compared with electromagnetic ballasts with a 10 years lifespan, electronic ballasts have much longer lifetime for 20 years but not recyclable. This prompts new concerns about their environmental impacts due to the accumulation of toxic and non-biodegradable waste components and materials. However electronic ballasts donate a longer lifespan years to the light source they operate and consumes less energy while delivering a more stable and comfortable light output. Mainly because of the energy benefits of the electronic ballast some European countries have enforced their use and banned the use of electromagnetic ballasts.


The light planners of IN-Lite can assist you to select the best fixtures
and control gear for your project, you can contact IN-Lite at:

 Light Fitting and Fixture Trading LLC

P.O. Box 123799

Al Maktoum Road, B62 Building, Office No. 305, Deira, Dubai, UAE

Telephone +971 4 224 6822
Fax +971 4 224 6844

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