Q:

How does a fluorescent ballast work?

A:

The simplest type of fluorescent lamp ballast, called a magnetic ballast, works like an inductor and generates a magnetic field when electric current is sent through a wire, according to HowStuffWorks. A basic inductor is composed of a coil of wire in a circuit, which can be wound around a piece of metal.

The field is amplified when the wire is positioned in concentric loops, states HowStuffWorks. This affects the objects around the loop as well as the loop itself. When the current in the loop is increased, the magnetic field is also increased, applying a voltage opposite the flow of current in the wire. This means that a coiled wire in a circuit opposes change in the current that flows through it. This principle is used to control the current in a fluorescent lamp.

HowStuffWorks notes that a ballast cannot stop changes in current. However, the alternating current that powers a fluorescent light constantly reverses itself, enabling the ballast to restrict increasing current in a specific direction for a short period. Magnetic ballasts are capable of modulating electrical current at a relatively low cycle rate, causing a conspicuous flicker. They can also vibrate at a low frequency, leading to an audible humming sound that people usually associate with fluorescent lamps.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How do I change a ballast?

    A:

    If fluorescent lights begin to buzz and flicker, the ballast is often the problem and replacing it eliminates these occurrences. Replacement ballasts are available at most hardware stores; however, they are often expensive, so consider replacing the entire fixture.

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  • Q:

    What is a fluorescent lamp?

    A:

    A fluorescent light uses a tube of excited mercury gas to illuminate a phosphorescent coating, producing visible light. Fluorescent lights use less energy, produce less heat and tend to last longer than incandescent light bulbs.

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  • Q:

    How do you tell if fluorescent light ballasts are bad?

    A:

    If fluorescent light ballasts have gone bad, they might become dim, buzz, change color or go through fast blinking cycles. All parts of the light should be inspected for default before replacement. A multimeter can be used to make certain that it is indeed the ballast itself that has gone bad.

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  • Q:

    What is good fluorescent lighting for the kitchen?

    A:

    Good fluorescent lighting for the kitchen is fitted with electronic control gear that helps eliminate the buzzing and flicking of bulbs. It has a powerful light output that makes a kitchen more attractive and well-illuminated. It is more energy-efficient than other lamp sources.

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