HID Ballast Info | Electronic Ballasts & Digital Ballasts
Education Room
Image of an HID ballast. Learn more about electronic ballasts and digital ballasts for grow lamps.

What is an HID Digital Ballast?

To get the most out of your grow lamps, use our reliable digital ballasts with your HORTILUX grow lamps. Electronic and magnetic ballasts offer different benefits, all of which help you most effectively grow indoor plants.

To help you gain a better understanding of how our digital ballasts help your plants grow big and strong, here is a quick info guide to help answer your ballast-related hydroponics questions.

A ballast is an electrical device needed to operate HID (High Intensity Discharge) light bulbs, also known as lamps. HID lamps include Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps.

Image of an HID ballast. Learn more about electronic ballasts and digital ballasts for grow lamps.

Ballasts supply power to your grow lamps.

The ballast provides the required voltage to start and operate the lamp. The ballast takes the available voltage from your electrical outlet and ramps it up to provide a high voltage pulse to start the lamp.

Once the lamp has started the ballast regulates the voltage to maintain a precise electrical arc inside the lamp as specified by the lamp manufacturer. If there are variations in line voltage supplied from your outlet, the ballast adjusts to help maintain the lamp.

As a lamp ages, it may require a higher voltage to operate correctly. The ballast will increase the needed voltage to maintain the electrical arc. If the aging lamp requires too much voltage, the ballast will shut down as a safety precaution. Your lamp may restart but it will continue to shut down because the voltage requirement is too high for the ballast. This is a typical sign that it is time to replace your lamp.

There are two types of ballasts:

  • Magnetic core & coil ballast
  • Electronic or digital ballast

Magnetic ballasts use a large spool of wire wrapped around a set of steel sheets to generate the high voltage and wattage required by HID lamps.

Most magnetic ballasts use a metal or plastic canister known as a capacitor as part of the regulating system. These ballasts are heavy, rugged, and built-to-last for many years in harsh weather conditions.

Magnetic ballasts are certified by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) for electrical safety and fire protection standards. They are designed to meet lamp operating standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These standards ensure the lamp and ballast will operate correctly together. Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps typically require their own separate ballasts for operation. There are switchable magnetic ballasts that can operate both types of lamps. The user must flip a switch prior to operation. Switchable ballasts are a compromise because they typically operate the HPS lamp to specification, but operate the Metal Halide lamp out of specification.

Electronic ballasts use semiconductors and microchips to provide the high voltage and wattage required by HID lamps.

The inside of an electronic ballast looks very similar to the inside of a computer. One or more circuit boards house mini capacitors and mini wire wound magnetic transformers. The use of these circuit boards allows for light weight and produces less heat than a magnetic ballast.

High wattage electronic ballast (anything above 250W) are not manufactured to meet lamp operating standards set by ANSI. Standards have not yet been written by ANSI for electronic ballast compatibility with HID lamps.

Because there is no ANSI standard, all electronic ballast are made differently. This has resulted in inconsistent lamp performance on electronic ballasts. Many electronic ballast are not properly ETL or UL listed for fire and electrical safety.

Most, if not all, electronic ballasts on the market today are not digital even though they may be marketed that way. Digital would imply that the ballasts would have a microprocessor inside.


ballast ballast

The ANSI code is used by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to properly match lamps to ballast. This helps ensure peak performance and lamp/ballast compatibility.

The American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, is a board of lighting manufacturers who collaborate to develop specifications and standards for HID lamps and ballasts. EYE Lighting is a member on the ANSI board.

Back to Top

Back to Education Room

Find A Retailer

EYE Lighting International

EYE HORTILUX® offers grow lamps and ballast for indoor gardening applications. Our grow lamps are made in the U.S.A.

Made in America
  • HORTILUX® is a trademark of Iwasaki Electric Co.,
    and is registered in USA and Japan.