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High-Intensity Discharge Lighting Systems

High-Efficiency Ballasts for High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lighting Systems

High-intensity discharge (HID) lighting systems are widely used in applications where high light levels are desired for large areas, such as industrial and street lighting. Similar to fluorescent lighting systems, all HID lighting systems require a ballast to operate. Traditionally, magnetic ballast designs were the only choice available for HID lighting systems. Today, high-efficiency electronic HID ballasts are available that provide improved lighting quality and reduce lighting electricity use by 10 to 30 percent.¹ The dimming capabilities of some models can provide additional savings. That's good for your company, and it's good for the environment. Reduced electricity use provides cost savings, and it reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity generation that contribute to climate change.

Improved Operating Characteristics of Electronic HID Ballasts
  • Improved light colour and output
  • Thirty percent longer lamp life and lower lumen depreciation
  • Continuous dimming capabilities
  • Reduced energy costs
  • Smaller size and lighter weight
  • Silent operation
  • Flicker-free
  • High-power factor (0.99) and low harmonic distortion

Traditional HID ballasts use magnetic coils to regulate current and voltage to provide proper lamp starting and operation. These magnetic ballasts tend to be hot, bulky and heavy, which affects their suitability for some applications.

Electronic ballasts are available for HID lighting systems. These ballasts provide the same functions as their magnetic counterparts but use power-supply switching electronics rather than magnetic transformers to operate the lamp. This results in reduced energy losses and improved operating characteristics (see insert).

Electronic ballasts have been successfully used with fluorescent lighting systems for many years, largely because of their improved energy performance and dimming capabilities. Electronic ballasts for HID lighting systems have become available only more recently. Initially, electronic HID ballasts were primarily for use with lamps of 175 W or less. But reliable electronic ballasts are now becoming available for use with higher wattages of 320, 350, 400 and even up to 1000 for metal halide and high-pressure sodium HID lighting systems.

Currently, there are no minimum performance requirements for HID ballasts sold in Canada. However, there is a draft standard under review by the Canadian Standards Association. The standard, entitled CSA C863, Performance of Ballast for Use with High-Intensity Discharge Lamps, will establish the energy performance levels of HID ballasts.

¹ Based on published manufacturers' data. Independent testing is currently underway.

Next: How Do HID Ballasts Save Money?