Than popular lampsThe peculiarity of gas-discharge light sources is that they cannot be used as part of a network as a separate element. Only one option is possible when they are used in combination only with special equipment, thanks to which these devices can function normally. And the role of such devices performs the control gear (PRA). Within its framework, it is customary to distinguish two types: electronic and electromagnetic (ECG and EMPRA). Among the technical characteristics possessed by such ballasts, the power of losses and the power of lamps, which together form the system power, deserve special attention.


  • 1 Varieties of control gears
  • 2 Advantages of EMPRA
  • 3 Disadvantages of EMPRA
  • 4 What is an electronic ballast?
  • 5 Reasons for popularity
    • 5.1 Lighting comfort
    • 5.2 Efficiency
  • 6 Prevalence of electronic ballasts

Varieties of control gears

Traditional electronic control gear performed as mechanismswith inductive resistance. The basis of their design is a steel core, which is protected by a copper wire winding. The effect of the operation of these devices is associated with the use of special ohmic resistance, due to which a significant drop in power occurs, which is accompanied by heating of the working elements. When using electronic ballasts and a 26 watt fluorescent lamp, the total power will be 32 watts. By performing simple calculations, it becomes clear that among them the power loss will be only 8 watts.

The considered equipment can use in different combinations:

  • In the form of a combination of a glow discharge starter;
  • Without the use of additional mechanisms;
  • In the form of PRA, having a limited range of operating temperature.

Advantages of EMPRA

The combination in which the lighting device is complemented by an EMPRA has several important advantages:

  • Universal use of luminairesThe lamp starts to burn with a minimum delay time;
  • During operation of the lamp is not observed flicker of light;
  • The option used does not reduce the life of the lamp;
  • High efficiency threshold is provided;
  • In this embodiment, the lighting device is not threatened with electric shock;
  • Provided power far exceeds the traditional scheme and reaches the value of 0.9.

Disadvantages of EMPRA

Despite the fact that EMPRA has many advantages, the main one is considered low cost. If we talk about the disadvantages of these devices, then the most significant ones include large sizes and weight. These parameters are of particular relevance if this equipment is planned to be used in conjunction with fluorescent lamps. But these are not the only drawbacks of these devices:

  • During operation, power loss reaches very high rates. If electronic ballasts are used in combination with low-power fluorescent lamps, then these losses can be a significant part of the power of the lamps themselves.
  • When operating equipment in industrial environments, the frequency of the luminous flux often reaches 100 Hz. Such vibrations are not perceived by the eye, although at the subconscious level the human body receives harm. Another negative consequence of light pulsations is the “strobe effect”, in which objects in which the rotation frequency corresponds to the given pulsations, they are represented as being in static position The consequence of this phenomenon is injuries in the shops where the equipment is installed, in which the parts or tools used are rotated at the same frequency.
  • The flow of light produced by lamps cannot be controlled. Because of this, there are difficulties with the manufacture of devices capable of providing the most comfortable lighting.
  • The process of using chokes is accompanied by the appearance of extraneous noise.

To eliminate these disadvantages of EMPRA, you can apply to the lamps high frequency currentwhat is considered the most radical measure. Practically it is realized in the form of sharing with a lamp of a complex electronic device, which is able to change the initial voltage of the network and at the same time control the start fixtures. In this case we are talking about electronic ballasts (ECG).

What is an electronic ballast?

In terms of construction, electronic ballasts are electronic mechanisms whose main purpose is to provide power for gas discharge and fluorescent lamps. These devices were invented back in the 60s of the 20th century, but only 30 years later they were able to gain popularity. In recent years, more and more countries have begun to create enterprises producing these products. And at the moment there is a situation that total production of electronic ballasts has already reached the volume of release of electromagnetic devices.

Reasons for popularity

Demand for lampsElectronic ballasts have a complex structure and are very expensive. What helped them become so popular? One of the features of electronic ballasts is that their operating frequency range exceeds the level of 30 kHz. This allows them to function more efficiently, aided by following key points:

  • More economical use of electrodes;
  • The increase in the number of produced light flux, which is achieved due to lower losses during the transformation of electricity in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum of mercury atoms at 185 nm and 254 nm.
  • Thanks to the latest models of electronic ballasts, there is an opportunity to create more comfortable lighting, extend the service life of lighting devices and ensure their safety.

Lighting comfort

The comfort of ECG lighting is manifested in the following:

  • During operation, there is no flashing lights;
  • The luminous flux produced is uniform and does not have a stroboscopic effect;
  • During operation of an electronic ballast, no extraneous noise occurs;
  • Broken lamps do not blink;
  • After installing a new lamp fixtures run in automatic mode.


ECGs are economicalthat manifests itself in the following:

  • Unlike EMPRA, power consumption is reduced by a third.
  • Since these devices do not operate at the limit of their capabilities, this allows them to serve 50% longer, unlike EMPRA.
  • Economical operation of electronic ballasts allows you to achieve savings on maintenance.
  • Due to their capabilities, electronic ballasts can be used in emergency lighting systems.
  • Since the air conditioning system is not activated full powerThis prolongs its service life.
  • Through the use of these devices, it is possible to facilitate the apparatus and save on scarce materials, which means copper and electrical steel.

The use of electronic ballasts allows you to create systems that can control the lighting in the rooms, which is manifested in minimizing the cost of electricity and ensuring maximum comfort. High interest is also manifested in built-in ECG models used in conjunction with small fluorescent lamps. At present ECG cost up to 10 times more expensive compared to electromagnetic analogues. But still, these devices justify their price, given that they reduce the cost of electricity, and the lamps last longer than usual.

Prevalence of electronic ballasts

Advantages of lampsIn recent years, electronic control gears designed for use with fluorescent lamps, began to produce 37% morethan before. Moreover, the current range of electronic ballasts already includes, along with single-tube and two-, three-and four-lamp options. For this reason, the number of fluorescent lamps used in conjunction with electronic devices is increasing, their share already being 50% in the total volume.

An overwhelming number of luminaires that use fluorescent lamps produced by European enterprises already have in their construction electronic ballasts.

The reason that electronic ballasts are most often preferred is due to the fact that “thin” fluorescent lamps made in 16 mm flasksthat are not designed to work together with traditional wiring diagrams based on starter and throttle.

Significant advantage of electronic ballasts is high efficiency, reaching 90%, as well as a power equal to 0.95. Most often, electronic ballasts are manufactured in such structural variants that they are not afraid of any overload or short circuit in the output circuit.

Modern fixturesGradually, electronic ballasts began to be produced in accordance with a single standard. This led to the fact that the vast majority of electronic ballasts used with linear fluorescent lamps, acquired an elongated shape, the length of which was determined by the power. For models that used "thin" fluorescent lamps, electronic ballasts were provided, enclosed in cases with a height of 21 mm. At the same time, multi-bulb ballasts are almost the same in size as single-tube analogs.

The fact that today it is almost impossible to find an EMPRA belonging to class B1 in terms of power losses was associated with the onset of the order EU Energy Commission No. 2000/55 / ​​EG. Its essence was that, starting from December 2005, all enterprises had to curtail the production of the above-mentioned devices. Previously, a similar decision was made with respect to class D and C ballasts, which, from 2001 and May 2005, should have ceased to be produced by all companies.

A certain role in the distribution of electronic ballasts belongs to the modified European illumination standards EN 12464-1. This document contains a section that presents requirements for pulsating light. It says that the presence of such pulsations is prohibited on those objects where people are for a long time. This fragment implies that it is unacceptable to use fluorescent lamps for traditional switching circuits based on the starter and the throttle.