Fluorescent Lamps Ballasts and Fixtures

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

Thanks to Don Klipstein ( don@misty. com ) for his comments and additions to this document. His Web site ( ) is a valuable resource for information relating to lighting technology in general and also includes additional articles dealing with fluorescent and other discharge lamps. The fluorescent lamp was the first major advance to be a commercial

Fluorescent Lamps Ballasts and Fixtures
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success in small scale lighting since the tungsten incandescent bulb. Its greatly increased efficiency resulted in cool (temperature wise) brightly lit workplaces (offices and factories) as well as home kitchens and baths. The development of the mercury vapor high intensity discharge (HID) lamp actually predates the fluorescent (the latter being introduced commercially in 1938, four years after the HID). However, HID type lamps have only relatively recently become popular in small sizes for task lighting in the home and office; yard and security area lighting; and light source applications in overhead, computer, and video projectors. Fluorescent lamps are a type of gas discharge tube similar to neon signs and mercury or sodium vapor street or yard lights. A pair of electrodes, one at each end - are sealed along with a drop of mercury and some inert gases (usually argon) at very low pressure inside a glass tube. The inside of the tube is coated with a phosphor which produces visible light when excited with ultra-violet (UV) radiation. The electrodes are in the form of filaments which for preheat and rapid or warm start fixtures are heated during the starting process to decrease the voltage requirements and remain hot during normal operation as a result of the gas discharge (bombardment by positive ions). When the lamp is off, the mercury/gas mixture is non-conductive. When power is first applied, a high voltage (several...

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