Digital and Electronic Ballasts
Digital and Magnetic Ballasts
Are you just getting started on your first foray into hydroponics or are you a growing pro? Whether you're a beginner or expert, make sure that you keep your grow lights running by using magnetic and digital ballasts. Grow light ballasts are an essential part of your hydroponics set up, and operate both metal halide (MH) and high pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs. 1000Bulbs.com carries digital ballasts from several well-known brands:
- HydroFarm is the industry-leader in glow lights and offers several ballast types, including digital/electronic and MH/HPS switchable ballasts.
- UltraGrow has both digital/electronic and MH/HPS switchable ballasts that provide consistent lighting.
- Sunlight Supply provides digital and magnetic HID ballasts that can help your grow lights last their full life span, and in some cases exceed it.
All of these brands also have addition accessories available as well, including replacement power cords and plug adapters.
Advantages of Magnetic and Digital Ballasts
The job of the grow light ballast is to regulate the voltage and current so that the lamp operates at the optimal setting. Most hydroponic lamps are designed for use with both magnetic and digital ballasts, but each ballast has their own advantages.
Magnetic ballasts are less expensive than other ballasts and are easy to use, making them a good choice for first time growers. They are wattage specific, meaning that you can use a grow lamp with a wattage equal to or less than the ballast wattage. This allows you to be able to use many kinds of bulbs. Many magnetic ballasts also have a voltage selector on the back to manually switch between MH bulbs and HPS bulbs, depending on the growing season. If you have a pulse start bulb, then you will need to check the ANSI code of the ballast to ensure that the bulb will work with it. An added benefit is that they do not cause RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) issues.
Digital ballasts are newer technology compared to magnetic ballasts. They auto detect the lamp and will self-adjust to operate at ANSI specifications, meaning you won't have to manually switch between settings. They are lighter weight, produce less heat than magnetic ballasts, and are also dimmable. Most digital ballasts can operate both lamp types. However, there are some that only operate one or the other. For those, you have the option of using the specified lamp or a conversion bulb.
Benefit of Switching Bulbs
Plants need different light wavelengths at certain growing stages. High pressure sodium grow bulbs produce a more red or orange light. This light is beneficial for plants in the flowering stage. Metal halide grow bulbs produce a more blue light, which is for the vegetative stage. Ideally, you would want to start with an MH bulb and then transition to an HPS bulbs once your plants are ready to start producing bubs.You can find out more about how digital and magnetic ballasts work by reading our blog post: Grow Light Basics, Part 3.
Are you putting together a hydroponics system and unsure which type of grow light ballast to use? Call to speak to a member of our knowledgeable staff at 1-800-624-4488 today!