# Electronic Ballast for Fluorescent Light [Hack] ?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by C. Nick Kruzer, Jun 6, 2008.

1. ### C. Nick KruzerGuest

I have two identical electronic ballasts that will each power a 20 Watt
tubular fluorescent light bulb.

Will the two 20W ballasts drive a single 40W tubular fluorescent light
bulb if the two ballasts are connected (parallel) to the 40 Watt
fluorescent bulb?

insula

(The 20W bulbs are removed from the two circuits before connecting the
ballast circuits to the 40W bulb.)

2. ### petrus bitbyterGuest

No. These ballasts produce a (relative) high frequency AC voltage. As they
are not synchronized, they will blow each other.

petrus bitbyter

3. ### neon

1,325
0
Oct 21, 2006
they don't produce higher frequency that is BS. what they produce however is higher voltage enough to ionize the gas inside the tubes. to self sustaining breakdown. no it will not and the balast will fry eventualy.

4. ### Paul CarpenterGuest

WHY?

Check what the electronic ballast says for its power ratings (of
tubes it can drive). Anyway the correct ballast will be peanuts in
cost, a whole new fitting would be cheap as well.

Leaving alone the synchronisation of the outputs of the ballasts, you
have fundamental problems.

Electronic Ballasts (normally with integral starters) provide a means
of getting the correct voltage for the LENGTH of the tube -the 40W
tube will be almost double the LENGTH of a 20W tube. Tube wattage is
proportional to the LENGTH of the tube. Compact fluorescent tubes
get higher wattage in smaller space by compacting the length using
bends and spirals.

Two 20W in parallel will give INCORRECT operating voltage.

Electronic Ballast/starters apply a lower voltage but higher current
through the slectrodes to HEAT the electrodes for 1 - 2 seconds to
enable the START of the plasma discharge with the HIGH strike volatge.
Typical start voltages are around 20-30V, strike voltages are 100V and
greater (says he having had voltage frequency burns from 600V 40KHz
strike voltages).

TWO 20W ballasts in parallel WILL shorten the life of the tube electrodes
by applying too much heating current, hence releasing mercury inside the
tube from the electrodes.

Similar voltages and issues are seen for LCD backlights (except LED
backlights).

--
Paul Carpenter |
<http://www.pcserviceselectronics.co.uk/> PC Services
<http://www.pcserviceselectronics.co.uk/fonts/> Timing Diagram Font
<http://www.gnuh8.org.uk/> GNU H8 - compiler & Renesas H8/H8S/H8 Tiny
<http://www.badweb.org.uk/> For those web sites you hate

5. ### C. Nick KruzerGuest

Tom agrees and responds:
I'm trying to save money on a set-up for growing plants indoors under
artificial light. I'm growing vegetables which requires a good amount
electricity (wattage) for light. Lights made for growing plants are
expensive, I think because farmers of illicit indoor marijuana gardens
use them. I'm looking for ways to cut costs. I'm sick and tired of
paying three dollars a pound for tomatoes at the supermarket. I live in
a city apartment and can't grow anything outdoors. No direct sunlight
from windows...have to use lamplight. I get a discount on electric
power. Even if I break even in costs with tomato prices in supermarket I
figure I'm ahead..I will also get the pleasure of watching plants grow,
will eat organic grown, will have fun putting the fixtures together and
will have a conversation piece for guests to admire...

The two 20 watt ballasts I have are from screw-in compact fluorescent
lights with the bulbs removed. I can get these for about a buck apiece.
I have already tried one to power a small, linear, tubular fluorescent
light bulb, and it works. I matched the wattage ratings of the
fluorescent grow bulb with the compact fixture wattage from label on
fixture package. I attached wires from ballast to pins on the
fluorescent light tube with molex type connectors salvaged from old junk
computer parts. They fit perfectly. I'm looking for ways to power larger
tubes, that's why I asked about the two 20W ballasts for a 40 Watt tube.
Looks like that's what I'll be doing.
I'm glad I asked. I knew the electronics involved high frequency, but
didn't know much about the technology and applications..
That's good to know. It makes sense to me knowing what I know about high
voltage.
That certainly would be the incorrect start voltage for the larger tube.
Mercury!!...I don't want to become the "Mad Hatter"!

Such great answers to my question from everyone... You have my
gratitude.

Here is something I found when reading about using plant grow lights. It
is what initiated my inquiry, starting this thread. It involves rewiring
a two bulb fixture to run only one bulb, resulting in a greater
intensity of light. The author (Zink) advises that the "overdrive"
process shortens the life of the fluorescent tube. I found the
information while reading a Gardening forum.

http://community-2.webtv.net/crispmint/HomeGarden/page2.html

http://www.geocities.com/overdrive_lights/

insula

6. ### Don KlipsteinGuest

That was talking about evaporating mercury from the electrodes to the
inside of the tubing.

This is somewhat incorrect - in normal operation, the electrodes
are too hot to have any mercury at all on them.

Overheating the electrodes will merely shorten their life by
accelerating evaporation of the thermionically emissive material that
the electrodes are coated with.

In any case, the mercury stays inside the tube.

Combining ballasts is merely a *Big Bad Idea* for the other reasons
(edited out for space). You are unlikely to match the proper wattage and,
voltage, the electrodes have a fair chance of shortened life, and the
ballasts are independent high frequency AC generators that are unlikely to
synchronize with each other.

One more good reason - UL listing of electrical equipment (including
fluorescent lamp ballasts) is invalid when they are used other than as
major grief if you burn up your apartment (and any other apartments) from
abused ballasts going KABLOOEY, as opposed to having a fire starting from
them despite using them as directed (which is presumably much more
unlikely).

- Don Klipstein ()

7. ### C. Nick KruzerGuest

Yes, the worst case scenario would be human injury/death in addition to
the events proposed in your wise admonition. The chance of danger and
failure has been unanimous with all those responding this thread.

I respect the scientific knowledge and advice of those who post this
forum. And to those who take the time to respond to my inquiry with
their expert knowledge I give a special "thank you".

insula

8. ### neon

1,325
0
Oct 21, 2006
if you want just light why not LEDS save you mega on operation more light then neon at very cheap prices.