Guide to Digital Ballasts

When it comes to having an indoor garden or greenhouse hydroponic garden, one of the most important things you need to consider is lighting, or what is called grow lights. Oneessential thing you need for lightinga garden or greenhouse is a good digital ballast, which is what runs the bulbs. When you go to the store to buy a ballast or search online for the best one, you will be welcomed with lots of options, which makes choosing very challenging. And it can be more challenging if you do not have any idea on how to get the best one for your needs.

If you are looking for a digital ballast for your garden but not sure how to get the best one, you’re in the right place. Today, we are giving you a guide to digital ballasts.

What is Digital Ballast?

Digital ballast is what supplies High Intensity or HID bulbs with power, and it also manages the bulbs’ capabilities. The ballast takes the input voltage and currentand controls it into pulses within specific frequencies to allow your bulb or lamp to run efficiently and optimally. And itdoesn’t matter if there are voltage fluctuations outside of the system.Therefore, when choosing a digital ballast, select those that can keep your HID bulbs working properly even if the input voltage suddenly changes.

Digital ballasts usually look like a rectangular box that is covered in aluminum heatsinks. They have electrical connectors, knobs, cables, and some may also have digital screens. What makes it digital is if it has a microprocessor. This enables the ballast to run MH and HPS lamps, and as well as make necessary adjustments based on the type of lamp or bulb it is running at a given time. Aside from that, digital ballasts can sometimes even compensate for lamp degradation.

Important Features in Digital Ballasts

a black digital ballast

If you are looking into buying digital ballasts soon, here are some of the essential features that you need to look for to get the best one.

  • Dimming: The most basic feature that you can look for in a digital ballast is dimming. It should enable you to run your light at a lower wattage to save power. This will also allow you to adjust the light intensity depending on the needs of your plants. A good digital ballast will enable you to dim your lights at least 50% of the power. 
  • Bulb Protection: High-quality digital ballasts should have extensive bulb protection features. Some examples are line quality and ignition voltage control. 
  • Durability: The durability of a digital ballast depends mainly on the quality of the specific ballast that you are using, and as well as on the quality of your electrical connections. If you buy lower quality digital ballasts, they can go defective for as fast as 6 months. Higher quality ones, one the other hand, could last for more than 5 years. Also, a good quality digital ballast should be able to handle voltage fluctuations without noticeable changes in the performance of your grow lights. 
  • Radio Frequency Shielding: It is also important to choose a digital ballast that has radio frequency shielding. It’s because, without it, they can create a noticeable amount of Radio Frequency Interference. It means that they are capable of broadcasting a radio signal within frequencies, and this can interfere with other electronic devices and radio enthusiasts. It can also give you cable company visits because they can trace that the signal is coming from your garden. Therefore, when buying a digital ballast, make sure that it is built with proper RF shielding. 
  • Versatile: A digital ballast should allow you to simplify your garden and use it under different circumstances. A versatile digital ballast should be capable of running different wattage bulbs, running different types of bulbs, support for double-ended HPS bulbs, and as well as boosting, or running a bulb over its specified power output. 
  • Less Noise: A good digital ballast should be quiet. Some might come with small cooling fans that make little-to-no noise. However, if you get a lower quality digital ballast, it might emit noticeable noise, which can be annoying. 
  • Low Temperatures: If you have a hydroponic garden, the lights and other equipment in there can make your grow room or tent a little hotter. This is great during colder months. However, it is not good when the plants that you have stopped growing because of extreme transpiration. When buying a digital ballast, note that it is normal for them to get a bit warm, but not too hot that you can’t touch it.
Product
Visual
Where to Buy
VIVOSUN 400 watt Dimmable Digital Ballast for HPS MH Grow Light, Soft Start Program & Stable Performance (Space Gray)
TOPHORT 1000W Digital Dimmable Electronic Ballast for 1000 Watts HPS MH Grow Light Bulb Lamp (1000W, Blue)
iPower Horticulture 1000 Watt Digital Dimmable Electronic Ballast for Hydroponic HPS MH Grow Light with 200pcs Cable Tie of 8", 1000W, Black
Phantom PHB2010 II 1000W Digital Ballast, Black
Quantum 1000W Digital Ballast, 120/240V Dimmable Ballast
SolisTek Matrix LCD DE (Double-Ended) 1000W Dimmable Digital Ballast - Does Not work with Single Ended Bulbs, Must Use a Double-Ended Bulb

 

 The Best Digital Ballasts You Can Buy Today

To further help you in finding the perfect digital ballast for your garden, here are some of the best ones that we found online:

1. VIVOSUN 1000-Watt Dimmable Digital Ballast

This digital ballast will help you save more power because it has a soft-start feature. With this, your bulbs will potentially last longer. This will also wait for some time before re-firing a lamp if the power goes out. It also does not get as hot as other standard ballasts. This digital ballast is fully compatible with metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs. You just need to make sure that the bulb and ballast have the same wattage before turning it on.

This digital ballast has a premium exhaust fan that ensures the whole product and its components stay cool. It has overheating protection, end-of-bulb-life protection, short-circuit protection, and ignition-failure protection, making it one of the safest choices out there.

2. TOPHORT 1000-Watt Digital Electronic Ballast

This digital ballast is electronic and dimmable. It is compatible with both MH and HPS bulbs with 120V and 240V power supplies. This digital ballast has high-frequency output results in less power loss. It is also safe to use, and are tuned for minimal total harmonic distortion. It also has an automatic power shut off in case of short circuits. It has a safe, fast lamp ignition by lighting up the bulbs within 1 to 3 minutes. This digital ballast is UL certified, as well.

3. iPower Horticulture Digital Ballast

This digital ballast not only ensures continuous power delivery, but it also has conserving bulb life in mind. It is efficient and powerful, but silent and lightweight, too, which adds to the maximum lumen that any plant will ever need. It can be wired conveniently with a standard hydroponic “S” plug. It has a stable light output by constant lamp voltage, making the lamps flicker-free. It also features dimming control, and as well as safety features against short circuit, ignition failure, and overheating.

4. Phantom PHB2010 II 1000W Digital Ballast

This is an efficient digital ballast. Even if it has 1000 watts, this grow-light ballast still works silently. It is energy-efficient, lightweight, and reliable for your indoor grow light fixtures. It has a 32 MHz fully-integrated microprocessor that keeps your setup running smoothly. It is also protected from sudden power outages. It has 4 brightness settings, allowing you to set the brightness of the bulb to 60%, 75%, 100%, and super-boost. It also features an end of lamp protection and LED indication.

5. Hydrofarm Quantum 1000W Digital Ballast

This digital ballast runs at 100%, 75%, or 50% power. It strikes both metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs. It accepts 120V/240V with no wiring needed. It has the most stable output frequency of any ballast. It also runs 15% cooler compared to other digital ballasts. It has a higher lumen output than magnetic ballasts, and it can run well on generators without flickering. This digital ballast has a resin-sealed circuit board for high humidity installations.

6. SolisTek Matrix LCD Double-Ended Digital Ballast

This is probably the best digital ballast that you can buy on the market right now. It can work well with 600w and 1000w MH or HPS bulbs. It also comes with a lit digital screen, a built-in timer, and other high-end features that you will not get from other digital ballasts. It is very efficient and will run single and double-ended lamps. It has pre-ignition self-diagnostic checks. It is a high-end digital ballast at a relatively low price point.

These are some of the best digital ballasts that we can recommend. We hope that this guide will help you in finding the perfect digital ballast for the grow lights in your indoor garden or greenhouse.