Fluorescent ballasts are an essential component of fluorescent light fixtures. They are responsible for regulating the current to the bulb. But how long do fluorescent ballasts last?
On average, a fluorescent ballast can last anywhere from 12 to 20 years. However, it is important to note that if a fluorescent ballast starts to malfunction or shows signs of wear and tear, it should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent damage to the light fixture or potential safety hazards.
Continue reading to uncover all the details on how long ballasts fluorescent lights last!
How Long Do Fluorescent Ballasts Last?
Average Fluorescent Ballasts Lifespan
Fluorescent light ballasts can last between 12 and 20 years. Where one specifically falls in this range depends on a couple of different things, such as the type, brand, usage, installation area, and ballast factors.
The quality of the ballast and how well you take care of it also play a role. Proper maintenance practices, combined with quality components, can help maximize the longevity of your fluorescent ballast system while ensuring safe, energy-efficient lighting for years to come.
Let’s break down all the influencing aspects now!
Factors That Affect A Ballast’s Lifespan
1. The Ballast’s Type
Ballasts in fluorescent light fixtures can be electronic or magnetic.
- Electronic Ballasts: Use microchips to control the voltages and currents. Most depend on a 220V AC electric supply. These can last up to 20 years.
- Magnetic Ballasts: Use inductive coils to control the voltages. Generally, these are analog devices. Magnetic ballasts can only last around 12–15 years, on average.
2. The Ballast’s Brand
The brand you choose can have a significant impact on fluorescent ballast’s lifespan. Higher-quality brands tend to use better components and materials in their construction, which results in a more reliable and longer-lasting ballast.
In contrast, cheaper brands often use lower-quality materials, resulting in short life expectancy and even early failure.
Additionally, different brands may have varying levels of compatibility with certain types of lamps, so it is important to do your research before making a purchase.
Ultimately, spending a little more money upfront for a trusted brand can pay off in the long run, as you decrease the need for frequent replacements and keep your lighting fixtures working efficiently for many years going forward.
*Note: You should look at how long the brand has been in the industry, their time spent on research and development, and quality control measures. Trusty names in the market include VivoSun, InterGlobal, SolisTek, and Phantom.
3. The Ballast’s Frequency of Use
Since fluorescent ballasts work by providing the necessary voltage and current to power the fluorescent tube, frequent turning on and off of the light can decrease the lifespan of your ballast.
If you are only using your fluorescent lights occasionally or intermittently, the device will last longer because its components will experience less wear and tear.
In addition to wear and tear, fluorescent lights have something called “burn time” — Each time you turn them on, they shed a small amount of electrodes, which cuts down their lifespan. So constantly switching the lights on and off will reduce their lifespan.
4. The Ballast’s Installation Area
If you want to maximize the lifespan of a fluorescent ballast, it is crucial to take its installation area into account.
The ambient temperature in which the ballast operates can impact how long it lasts. If the ballast is installed somewhere with high temperatures and/or humidity levels, its lifespan might be reduced due to overheating and moisture-related corrosion.
Dusty or dirty environments can also negatively affect the performance of a ballast over time. Why? Because debris accumulates on the ballast’s components.
5. The Ballast Factors
The ballast factor is a term that refers to the percentage of power delivered to a fluorescent tube by its ballast as compared to the rated power. This factor can influence the life of the fluorescent light bulb.
- When the ballast factor is too high, it causes excessive heat, which, in turn, shortens the life expectancy of the fluorescent tube.
- On the other hand, a too-low ballast factor results in reduced illumination, causing flickering and ultimately damaging the bulb even before its expected lifespan.
- A mismatch between the ballasts and bulbs may lead to overheating or under-illumination, leading to an eventual failure.
Thus, selecting appropriate ballast factors for specific applications ensures longevity and sustained performance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to tell if fluorescent bulb or ballast is bad?
A fluorescent bulb that is bad or about to go bad will likely:
- Make buzzing sounds
- Dim, flicker, or take too long to reach full brightness
- Change in light color when turned on
You might also want to check the ballast itself, whose signs of damage include:
- A swollen housing
- Burn marks across its wiring or in its interior
- Leaking oil in its interior
How to take care of fluorescent lights?
You can still keep old ballasts running well if you take care of them carefully. This means cleaning them regularly to get rid of dirt and dust and not flipping them on and off every couple of minutes. You should also make it a habit to check up on the devices every once in a while. There should not be any water or leaking oil inside them.
How long do fluorescent ballasts last? Although 12 to 20 years is the average range, its lifespan can vary depending on several factors, such as ballast type, brand, frequency of use, etc.
In addition, well-maintained ballasts can significantly extend their lifespan. This involves keeping the fixtures clean and dust-free, as buildups can cause overheating and damage to internal components. Plus, it is crucial to replace faulty parts and damaged wiring promptly.
Thomas is the Founder of Powercorecard. He is a licensed electrician with more than a decade (15 years to be more specific) of experience in the electrical industry. He has served in multiple capacities, most recently as the Chief Electrical Officer for a respected electric company. His extensive knowledge and experience are the foundation of Powercorecard, particularly his tabs on cutting edge of new technology.