HPS (High Pressure Sodium) & MH (Metal Halide) Grow Light Ballasts

What is a HPS ballast?

A high pressure sodium (HPS) ballast is used in conjunction with an HPS grow light. The ballast is responsible for igniting the gas in the tube, which creates the light. At this point, the ballast regulates this current, ensuring the charge does not exceed a safe level. Without a ballast, the light will burn to hot and pop.

What does a metal halide ballast do?

Similar to an HPS ballast, the metal halide (MH) ballast operates a MH grow light. It has the same responsibility of regulating the current inside the gas charged tube, ensuring it doesn't burn too hot. The ballast helps ensure the life span of the grow light is as long as possible.

What are the different types of ballasts?

The two main types of ballasts are magnetic and digital. Magnetic ballasts are a tried and true technology for operating your grow light, but have become outdated. The newest technology is the digital ballast, which features benefits over the magnetic ballast such as:

  • Smaller size, less heat output
  • 30% more efficient
  • Dimmable function

The most notable changes between the two types of ballasts are the increase in efficiency, and the dimmable function. This function allows a grower to play with the power level sent to bulbs, creating a level of flexibility not available to those implementing magnetic ballasts. Some of these ballasts even include a "Super Boost" function, which increases the lumens available to plants.

Choosing the right ballast

When selecting a ballast, consider the grow light system you are using. It is important to ensure the wattages match up for the best operation. If you select a ballast with lower watts than your grow light, it may not be able to ignite the charge. If the watts on your ballast are higher than those of your grow light, it can burn the bulb out prematurely.

If you have a double ended (DE) HID grow light, be sure to use a DE ballast, as these are optimized to work with two bulbs. You will not be able to operate a DE grow light with a single ended (SE) ballast, but you can operate a SE grow light with a DE ballast!

If you are a hobby grower or operating a standard house outlet, a 120 Volt ballast will work just fine. If you need more power, or are a commercial grower, you will probably need a higher voltage, such as the popular 240 Volt ballast.

If you are unsure what ballast is best for you, reach out to our experienced growing staff at 888-815-9763 and let us assist you! If you want to learn more about grow lights, check out the articles in our learning center!

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