The ballast in my bathroom burned out (brand new bulb won't light up). Looking online, it seems that there are two different types of ballasts: electronic and magnetic.

I recently replaced my kitchen ballast, and the new one was much lighter than the old one. I assume that is because the new ballast is electronic and the old one was magnetic. Other than weight, what is the difference in terms of reliability, longevity, efficiency, etc.?


Reduced Weight

As you've noticed, electronic ballasts are lighter.

Reduced Lamp Flicker

Because the electronic ballast operates at a higher cycle rate, flicker is less noticeable.

Quieter Operation

Again, because of the high cycle rate, hum is reduced.

More Efficient

Magnetic ballasts can have losses between 5-25%, while electronic ballasts have better current control making them more efficient.

No Starters Required

Magnetic ballasts required a starter to get the lamp lit, electronic ballasts do not require a starter.

Higher Price

Electronic ballasts are typically more expensive, though you may find that this is no longer a problem.

  • I'm not sure if it's a regional thing, but all of the big box stores in my area only sell electronic ballasts now. You can still get magentic ones at specialty stores.
    – Steven
    Jun 13 '12 at 14:09
  • Electronic ballasts are also cheaper and easier to manufacture- as well as the obvious thing(pointed out) it is more efficient and allows higher output and longer life for certain specialist tubes (eg HighOutput Aquarium lights) Excellent Answer. @Steven Is there any reason somebody would use a magnetic ballast anyway?
    – Piotr Kula
    Jun 14 '12 at 9:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.