Industrial work sites that experience high temperatures on a regular basis need adequate hazardous area lighting for safety. The problem is, extreme heat can damage conventional lamps commonly used in rugged facilities. For metal halide fixtures, this is a serious issue. Some of the lamp’s components, including the ballast, are easily prone to damage and can contribute to premature failure – when internal losses become excessive (above 5-30 percent of the unit’s wattage).
In metal halide lighting systems, ballasts are used to regulate current during startup. It provides the required voltage for the creation of an arc between the electrodes. When this component is exposed to high heat or other crippling conditions, the ballast is unable to control the current at the required standard for smooth operation.
As a result, the metal halide fixture may flicker or fail to produce quality illumination (weak light beams or low color temperature settings). To address such concerns, operators may choose to install the ballast in a separate location. This remote configuration allows the ballast to thrive in cooler environments, while the lamp is directly exposed to the high-heat work site.
In addition to heat, remote ballast setups can decrease the negative effects of harmonics (from nearby equipment).
Magnetic vs Electronic Ballasts
For metal halide lamps, there are two main types of ballasts utilized in industrial buildings: magnetic and electronic. Out of the two options, magnetic ballasts are the most commonly used, which regulates current using a magnetic coil. This type of ballast is capable of reducing flicker and occurrences of premature failure.
Electronic ballasts are suitable for metal halide lighting systems above 1,000 watts. Compared to traditional magnetic variants, this type is more energy efficient and offers stable output. From a performance perspective, electronic ballasts can improve light uniformity and support reliable illumination at the end of the lamp’s general lifecycle.