System Troubleshooting: HID Lamp & Electric Ballast
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Grow Light Troubleshooting

Having trouble with your HID lamp or electric ballast? Here’s your step-by-step guide to troubleshooting your grow lamp and system.

Before you attempt to troubleshoot any issue with a grow lamp, always begin with the following:

  • Disconnect main power whenever working on any electrical device
  • Allow sufficient time for lighting system, lamp, and ballast to cool down prior to handling
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves during lamp installation or removal


Every EYE HORTILUX grow lamp is started prior to packaging to make sure they will work for you at home. If a new lamp does not work, chances are that something else is not working correctly.

In the unlikely event that your lamp does not light, please follow these instructions in order:

  1. Double check to be sure you have the correct grow lamp for your system. Example: 600W lamps must be used on 600W systems.
  2. If you have a dimmable system, be sure that the system is NOT in the dim mode. It must be at full power for proper starting. NOTE: We DO NOT recommend dimming lamps because it dramatically changes the spectral output required for quality plant growth. A 600W lamp running at 100% power will produce a better spectrum and better plant production than a 1000W lamp being dimmed to 75% or lower.
  3. Shut off the main power and unplug the ballast. Double check all connections from the lamp back to the ballast and in the following order:
    1. Check the inside of the light socket and make sure that it is NOT dark/burned from arcing/poor contact or discolored from excessive heat. If there are signs of damage you should have the socket assembly replaced.
    2. Screw the lamp firmly but not forcibly into a properly functioning socket.
    3. Follow the lamp cord from the socket back to the ballast and make sure this connection is properly made. This cord should NOT exceed the length specified by the ballast manufacturer.
    4. d. Turn the ballast ON/OFF switch (if there is one) to the OFF position.
    5. Make sure the power supply to your specific ballast is correct. Example: If the ballast is rated for 120 Volt input, make sure the ballast is plugged into 120 Volts.
    6. Plug in the ballast and switch the ballast ON. The lamp should light.
  4. If you have multiple systems, you can try swapping out a known good lamp to see if it works. This will tell you if the lamp or ballast is having problems.
  5. If you are still having problems and feel that they are lamp related, please contact us for help and we’ll be happy to assist you. You can call us toll free at (877) 905-2562.

This could be a line voltage, lamp, or ballast issue. The best way to determine the cause of the issue is to:

  • Verify that your power supply at the outlet on your wall is correct
  • Try installing the lamp that was turning ON/OFF on that system if you have another operational light system

If the lamp works correctly, you have a ballast issue on the other system. If the lamp still turns ON/OFF the lamp should be replaced.

If you have been successfully growing and recently your plants are just not responding, it is probably time to replace your lamp.

Check with your local retail store for help. Your local retail shop is an excellent resource to help you with troubleshooting.

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.

Potential signs of lamp/ballast compatibility include:

  • A brand new lamp that will not light up
  • A brand new lamp that starts up for a second, then shuts off
  • A brand new lamp has been working fine for a period of time and won’t light up any more
  • A lamp that doesn’t get to full brightness
  • A lamp that is a couple of months old and works inconsistently
  • A lamp that is less than a year old and has completely burned out

These are classic examples of lamp/ballast compatibility issues. The best way to troubleshoot the problem is to try running the lamp on a different ballast. If the lamp starts on the different ballast you know there is a problem with your ballast.

Timers and control systems have also been known to prevent ballasts from operating lamps properly. It is a good idea to take the timer/controller out of the system when troubleshooting. You may find the problem is within the timer/controller.

In most cases the ballast is at the center of the issue. Many of today’s popular electronic ballasts are designed to operate HPS lamps and struggle to operate Metal Halide lamps consistently.

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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.