Battle of the ballasts

Electronic vs. Magnetic ballasts

High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halide grow bulbs use one of two kinds of ballasts to regulate their power supply: electronic and magnetic.

Here’s what to know:

Electronic ballasts offer higher output and wring up to 30% more light out of a given bulb, which translates to fatter harvests. They also run cooler, are almost completely silent, and send cleaner power to the bulb for a richer spectrum of light. Many e-ballasts also offer adjustable wattage so you can tweak bulb output depending on your plants’ growth stage. And they’ll shut down your lights if they sense trouble, a safety feature we like. While Electronic ballasts are more efficient at converting electricity into usable light, that does not mean that they are less expensive to operate. Since your power bill is based on kilowatt-hours and not efficiency, a 1000 watt electronic ballast will cost you about the same as a 1000 watt magnetic ballast to operate.

Magnetic ballasts accept only identical wattage bulbs, e.g. you need a 400-watt lamp for a 400-watt ballast, no exceptions! They’re also super heavy and clunky to move. They produce a ton of extra heat, which is energy-inefficient, and make a big buzz (and not the good kind either). But they lack the circuitry that can make e-ballasts a little wonky and work well with any bulb of equal wattage. Bulbs also tend to last slightly longer in m-ballasts, and m-ballasts tend to last nearly forever.

We offer both. But given their efficiency and versatility, we think e-ballasts are the way to grow.

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