A digital ballast is a piece of lighting equipment often used in small and large growrooms. There are three basic types of ballasts: magnetic, electronic, and digital.
Like all ballasts, a digital ballast regulates the voltage a high-intensity discharge (HID) light or compact fluorescent light receives so that the bulb doesn’t overheat and immediately explode.
Digital ballasts use the latest technology in microprocessors to regulate and monitor the voltage a bulb receives. As such, they are considered the latest and greatest type of ballast available to indoor growers.
All HID bulbs require the use of a ballast. The ballast can be bought separately or as part of a complete lighting system package.
Digital ballasts use switching electronics and small frequency inductors to control current and voltage to the lamp. They contain a ‘microprocessor’ similar to what’s used in a home computer. This allows Electonic Ballasts (or E-Ballasts) to run both M.H and HPS lamps, make adjustments for based on the type of lamp it’s running, and will even compensate for degrading lamps by increasing output!
The higher frequency excites the lamp’s gas within the arc tube to run at a much higher frequency. Old style magnetic ballasts cycle at 50 times/sec (hertz), so is effectively like strobe lighting that can be seen through a digital camera. The Quantum Digital Ballasts cycle at a massive 28,860 times/sec (hertz) so is providing non-flickering constant light that has a large impact on yield. Light output is also increased through constant distribution, lamp efficiency and increased lumen output. Lamps will also stay brighter for longer giving them increased life. This is particularly true for metal halides that are very sensitive to the voltage supplied to the lamp.