Lamp/ballast compatibility (LBC) is a phrase used to describe the working relationship between a ballast and a HID lamp. In most cases this phrase often refers to electronic ballasts operating HID lamps.
LBC is a hot topic because electronic ballasts can fail to consistently operate HID lamps, mainly Metal Halide lamps. Many people think the lamp is supposed to be compatible with the ballast. In reality it is the other way around and the ballasts must be compatible with the lamp.
LBC is a big concern with growers because if the lights are off, plants won’t grow. Understanding the basics of how ballasts operate HID grow lights is key to troubleshooting your lighting system when it is not operating properly.
The ballast is the power supply. In essence the ballast is the engine driving the lamp. Without the ballast the lamp is useless.
The lamp is a receiver of power. The lamp does not send any signals to the ballast or communicate in any way with the ballast. The lamp just sits there and takes what the ballast provides.
With that said, HID lamps do have voltage requirements or standards that each ballast must meet for startup and steady operation. Different lamp types and different wattages have their own standards for the ballast to provide.