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Electronic Ballast

Dr. Bryan M.H. Pong
Hong Kong University
Fluorescent tubes

Much more efficient than incandescent

lamps : 2 to 4 times more efficient
The lamps last a lot longer 10k to 20k
hours versus 0.75k to 1k hours for an
incandescent lamp
The lamps are much cooler than
incandescent lamps
Lamp structure

The lamp is a sealed tube containing

mercury vapor and some inert gases
such as argon at very pressure
The inside of the tube is coated with
At the ends of the tube there are
filaments or electrodes
Lamp structure

How does it work?
When the tube is off it does not conduct
It is turned on by a high voltage which excites
the gas inside the tube
Once the tube conducts on a lower voltage is
sufficient to maintain conduction
The electric current passes through the gas
and emits UV, the internal phosphor coating
converters the UV to visible light
The color of the light cab be varied by different
combinations of phosphors
How does it work?

Lamp starting

When the lamps is off the tube is non

The tube must be excited or started by a
high voltage
After the lamps is started the lamp
voltage drops
A current limiting ballast is needed in
between the power source and the lamp
Start up circuit

Conventional starter switch

A mechanical starter switch together with an inductive

ballast start up the lamp
The starter switch is a small discharge bulb containing
a gas like neon.
When connect to a voltage source the gas breaks
down and the switch glows
The heat generated bends the bimetallic switch and
closes it
One the switch is closed the glow is turned off and the
bimetallic switch cools down and opens
When the switch opens a series connected ballast
provides a high voltage and strikes on the tube
Starter switch
High frequency ballast

Conventional ballast produces

100/120Hz flicker
High frequency ballast is more efficient
than magnetic ballast [3]
High frequency ballast, like most power
electronics products, has smaller size
and weight
Integrates ballast and starting functions
Rapid start

Basics of Electronic Ballasts



Halfbridge configuration
The resonant circuit strikes on the lamp
Lamp preheat & ignition

Before strike on the tube has very high resistance and effectively it is an open
Operation at a high frequency preheats the filaments
Operation near resonance produces high voltage across C 2 and strikes on
the lamp
Ref <start1>



In the steady state the lamp resistance reduces greatly

current is controlled by L & C1
Ref <steady>
Typical operating points
Types of Ballast circuits

Self oscillating circuit

IC driven circuit
New Capacitor Couple Converter (CCC)
circuit developed at the HKU Power
Electronics Lab
Self Oscillating Ballast

Simple & low cost

IC driven Ballast

Easy to design
CCC Ballast


Low loss zero voltage switching

Reliable automatic power limiting
Look up references on the web



Company web sites


IEEE/ IEE papers

What to do

Understand the fundamentals

Design the circuit and fill in the
component parameters
Start to build the circuit in September
Expect a working circuit in December
Further work on lamp characteristics,
power factor correction, comparison of
topologies & dimming
1. http://home.howstuffworks.com/
2. http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/flamp.htm#int0
3. HID Electronic Ballast Testing Public Interest Energy Research
Program (PIER) Program, California, USA
4. T. Ribrarich A Systems Approach to Ballast IC Design IR Technical