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ballast for led lights
Jan 08 2018

Do You Need a Ballast for LED Lights?

The water fountain spigot kind of acts like a ballast in this situation. A ballast regulates the current that’s coming at a lamp. It gives an initial burst just to get things going, then it makes sure the electric current is controlled and steady. Not getting the lamp’s shoes all wet. A ballast for LED lights is not required – instead a driver is required.

There are two types of ballasts we deal with for existing fluorescent lights- magnetic and electronic. The difference is the mechanism they use to transform the incoming voltage.

  • Magnetic ballasts – heavier than bad news on a rainy day. Average 3.5 lbs. These bad boys are also why you associate a “humming” noise with fluorescent lights – they have a transformer consisting of a magnetic core and wire wrapped around it.
  • Electronic ballasts – use solid state circuitry to operate – no hum. Lighter and more efficient, they have been encouraged by energy efficient legislation dating back to the late 80s.

Alright so now that we know fluorescent lamps are like toddlers that need their food blended before they can eat it, what about LED lamps?

LEDs are from the future! Surely they don’t need an archaic metaphoric blender!”, you say.  LED lamps and fixtures use a different type of power source, in what is referred to as an LED driver. 

Can LED lamps work off of existing ballasts?  Yes, if they have an internal driver than can work off that ballast.  Philips, for example, has designed a tube that is compatible with an existing electronic ballast. Cue buzzword plug-and-play. Super cost effective because it brings down the labor cost of changing the fixture.  This is referred to as a Type A lamp, and can come with a $4 to $5 Instant Discount.

Type A – ballast for led lights compatible

If you don’t have tubes that are compatible, then you will need an LED driver.  You do not need a ballast for LED lights, but instead a driver.  This is called a Type C application, with a tube and driver that work together.

Type C – Driver, not ballast for LED

Finally, there are hard wired fluorescent LEDs, which take 110v electricity right to the socket.  These lamps have a driver inside the tube.  These are called Type B applications.

Type B – Hard wire to socket

So, the moral of the story, kids….you’re going to need some way to control the current coming into your LED tube. It all depends on the type of tube ya got.



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