While we practically know everything about the accessories we have available and what they are used for, there are many elements or cultivation accessories we are not quite familiar with. The ballast is one of them.
Therefore, below we tell you everything about what a ballast is, how it works and which model is the most suitable for your plantation.
How a ballast works for a plantation
To understand the function of a ballast, it is essential to know in detail the operation of grow lights. They usually rely on two components to deliver light, on an electric arc and on a gas that is usually sodium in the solid state.
With electricity, the bulb receives voltage and initiates that electric arc, which melts the solid and turns it into gas, thus producing light. However, when the sodium is already in a gaseous state, so much electricity is no longer needed, as the resistance of the lamp decreases.
Therefore, at that moment it is necessary to reduce the voltage so that the lamp does not burn out and that is exactly what the ballast achieves, regulates the electric arc and keeps the current flow stable. In this way the light remains stable and flicker-free.
How to choose a ballast for your crop
In view of the explanation, the role of the ballast in a plantation is unquestionable. But in practice we have many models to choose from. Above all we distinguish 2 typologies:
Magnetic ballasts feature several copper coils that are wrapped around metal connectors.
The ballast sends energy through these coils to regulate electricity. It is a very economical solution, but it disperses a lot of thermal energy.
Electronic ballasts are based on semiconductors and other electronic-type components that serve to regulate voltage. Thanks to the fact that they are very small, they are also accompanied by internal fans, which maintain constant cooling.
They are somewhat more expensive, but more effective than magnetic and more stable, since they do not have the vibrations that sometimes present the latter. There are even some digital models that further increase its accuracy.
In addition to how much you want to invest in ballasts for your plantation, you should also know the power of the lamp, in order to choose the most appropriate ballast for your crop. Both the lamp and the ballast must have the same watts.
Magnetic ballasts are compatible with HM (Metal Halide) lamps and HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lamps. In addition, you can find them available in different powers such as 250W, 400W and 600W.
Electronic ballasts can also be used in 250W, 400W and 600W lamps. Similarly, you can also use them with HM and HPS lamps. But as a difference, you will achieve greater efficiency, which you will notice both in the electricity bill and also in the light and heat stability that these models reach.