Simplistically a ballast is the component of your lighting system that initially ignites the lamp distributing power from the Ignitor, it then powers the illuminated lamp controlling its operation. All gas discharge lamps including HID (High intensity discharge) Linear and compact fluorescent will require a ballast to run. Ballasts are available in either Magnetic copper core or Digital Ballast performing the same operation as the magnetic with electronic circuitry.
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Ballasts for indoor horticulture typically match HID lamp sizes at 250 watt, 400 watt, 600 watt, and 1000 watt. A magnetic ballast matches the lamp size you are using so if you intend to illuminate a 1 m2 grow area sufficiently and have chosen to use a 600 watt lamp you will need a 600 watt magnetic ballast for your chosen lamp. Many digital ballasts have features allowing you to use differing lamp sizes an undoutuded benefit of electronic ballasts over magnetic.
Magnetic ballast represent older technology that has been superseded to a large degree by digital ballasts, as such magnetic ballasts are much cheaper than electronic ballasts making them a good option for those new to indoor gardening or those looking to keep costs low initially. Electronic ballasts run more efficiently are more compact and provide more features than older magnetic ballasts with an obvious premium on their initial cost.
Progrow offer the PRO ballast as a 250 watt, 400 watt or 600w size as previously stated specific to the size of High Pressure Sodium HID or Metal Halide Lamp you are using. You will find many cheap magnetic ballasts on the market, unfortunately many of these do not produce the stated power or simply are dangerous because of inferior manufacturing with inferior parts. Ballasts like this in our opinion should be avoided at all costs, safety should be paramount above all else in an indoor grow room. Many hobbyists have grows in their own homes, an unreliable ballast does not afford peace of mind in this scenario. Direct sourcing and bulk purchasing enable Progrow to offer the PRO Ballasts at incredibly competitive and affordable price for such a well made magnetic Ballast. PRO Ballasts have been thoroughly factory tested to conform to CE standard and are covered by a 1 year warranty. Our experience selling these incredibly reliable ballast shows us through a practically zero return rate that they will function effortlessly for many years of indoor growing. It is suitable for both High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide lamps, has a 2 meter mains power cable and IEC connection to suit all types of reflectors. The ballast is well vented, has a black powder coated stainless steel enclosure that can be wall mounted and as an added safety feature the whole unit is fuse protected to safe guard against short circuits adding to your peace of mind.
So how does an Electronic Ballast differ to a Magnetic Ballast ? Side by side the first obvious difference is in the size and weight, Electronic Ballasts are more compact and lighter than the steel and copper core of the Magnetic Ballast. An electronic ballast is more efficient at igniting the lamp and then bringing it to its full operating potential. Power is also distributed more ‘intelligentlyʼ to maintain correct illumination of the lamp meaning generally electronic ballasts are 30% more efficient than magnetic ballasts producing more lumens of light per watt of consumed energy. Efficiency does not diminish and is maintained for the entire life of the unit. The circuitry of Electronic ballasts will invariably be cooled with a small vented fan, they are also typically encased in aluminium casings constructed with heat sinks to dissipate heat from the ballast. Many early models of Electronic ballast had poor quality fans that were contained in the ballast rendering them useless once the fan had broken. Be sure your ballast is covered by good warranty and is market proven as all Progrowʼs Digital ballasts are. The use of digital circuitry has also enabled manufacturers to develop features such as re-strike of hot lamps after mains failure. The Adjusta-Watt Digital Ballast uses a timed re-strike system that prevents the ballast from re-striking a hot lamp after a power failure. If a hot lamp is detected, the re-strike will be delayed for 60 second intervals until the lamp has cooled sufficiently to be reignited. Re-ignition is then controlled by ‘SmartStart Ignition Controlʼ and ‘Soft Start Technologyʼ software. Sol-Digital were also one of the first to bring to the market a ballast that enabled the grower to switch between the common lamp sizes. The Adjusts-Watt is available in two models: Adjusta-watt 600w providing switching between 250 watts, 400 watts and 600 watts, whilst the 1000w Adjusta-watt enables the grower to switch between 400 watt, 600 watt and 1000 watt high pressure sodium lamps, both units also have an ‘Over Driveʼ feature. Solistek are also market leaders in this area their Solistek 600 watt digital ballast will operate any single or double ended lamp at its optimal efficiency. The ballast provides Ignition Contro Sequential lamp ignition (meaning multiple units in a single application will ignite in turn) performing its own diagnostic checks prior to ignition. Once your lamp is ignited the ballast provides Low OUTPUT Total Harmonic Distortion (THD%). This section also contains simpler electronic ballasts, as the older magnetic specific to the lamp size, tend to be cheaper with less advanced features but nonetheless not short on quality or reliability. Progrow supply 600w electronic ballasts and also the newer 315 watt Ceramic Discharge Metal Halide ballast and 400v 1000 watt ballast to complete our range.