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Home » FAQs » What's the Core and Coil ballast?
What's the Core and Coil ballast?
2014-01-14 06:11:20

The first lighting ballast technology used to operate MH lamps were electromagnetic, also known also as a “core and coil” ballast for bulky, heavy, magnetic core of laminated steel plates wrapped in copper windings.A ballast is a device designed to regulate the voltage within an electrical circuit. This page addresses only ballasts used in circuits containing electric gas-discharge lamps. Examples of gas-discharge light sources include neon and fluorescent lights and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps.

A single core and coil ballast can be used when the input voltage to a fixture meets the starting and operating voltage requirements of an HID lamp. In this situation, the reactor ballast performs only the current-limiting functions since the voltage necessary to initiate the ignitor pulses, and start and sustain the lamp comes directly from the input voltage to the fixture. The reactor ballast is electrically in series with the lamp. There is no capacitor involved with the operation of the lamp. Because of that, the lamp current crest factor is desirably low, in the 1.4 to 1.5 range.

Magnetic ballasts use a core and coil wrapped around a metal core, essentially an electromagnet, to generate an inductive field that affects the voltage flowing through the coil wire. Because they work at a lower cycle than electronic ballasts, you may notice a flicker or hear a hum coming from fixtures containing electromagnetic ballasts.

Without a capacitor, the reactor ballasts are inherently normal power factor devices (50%). Where necessary, to reduce the current draw during lamp operation, a capacitor may be utilized across the input line to provide high power factor (90%) operation, but the addition of the capacitor will not affect how the ballast operates the lamp.
 
Reactor ballasts limit the number of fixtures that can be used on a circuit because they draw substantially more current during lamp starting (warm-up) and/or open-circuit operation (burned-out or missing lamp), than when the lamp is operating normally.

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