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Ballasts for UV-C Lamps – The Basics

What is an Electronic Ballast?

An electronic ballast is an electronic device that is used to regulate the current and voltage in an electrical circuit. Electronic ballasts are used in electrical assemblies containing gas discharge lamps (ie. Mercury, Amalgam, Fluorescent, etc). Older designs were magnetic, operating via magnetic induction. Most ballasts made today are electronic, making them more compact. They also produce very low noise, which greatly reduces pulsing from the lamp resulting in the longest lamp life possible. For over 15 years, ISL Products has been designing and manufacturing electronic ballasts specifically for Mercury and Amalgam based ultraviolet lamps that are integrated into various germicidal applications.

Electronic Ballast for UV-C Germicidal Applications
Electronic Ballast for UV-C Germicidal Applications

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How Ballasts Function with UV-C Lamps

Mercury and Amalgam based UV-C lamps need a high voltage applied between the electrodes to spark the lamp. The uvc light ballast ramps up the input voltage and has an output voltage high enough to spark the lamp. A ballast is needed due to the construction of the lamps, they have negative resistance between the two electrodes. Additionally, a large voltage difference between the electrodes is needed to spark the lamp. The ballast converts the input voltage to the 400 ~ 1,000 volts required to spark the lamp. Once the lamp is sparked and arc is achieved, the ballast limits the voltage to a lower working voltage to keep the lamp illuminated, whilst regulating the power draw of the lamp. Without the ballast, the current through the lamp would increase rapidly until it blew out because of the high voltage and negative resistance. The voltage drop once the lamp sparks is around 300V. This voltage can range up to a couple of thousand volts, depending on the assembly, making the operation voltage of the lamps quite low. In general, the overall current draw of a ballast/bulb system is relatively low.

Within the germicidal ballast there is a combination of resistors, capacitors, inductors, and other printed circuit board level components that dictate the overall output characteristics of the ballast. The ballast converts a sinusoidal AC input, of around 50-60 Hz, and modulate it to a 20-80 kHz square or sine wave pulse output. This eliminates the flicker that was originally associated with gas filled lamps.

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UVC Applications

Over the years as technology has advanced, ISL Products has worked with customers to design and manufacture uvc light ballasts that are used to power Mercury and Amalgam based ultraviolet lamps, with various requirements. UV-C germicidal technology has been proven to be very effective in the HVAC industry for air purification. In the more commercial settings with higher foot traffic, surface disinfection is also a very important focus. New products utilizing germicidal ballasts are being developed every day.

UV-C light is also used for ozone generation, which is used for air and water purification. When ozone is produced by a UV-C lamp, the ozone and the light work in tandem to destroy harmful pathogens.

Another area where you will find uv light ballasts being used is in industrial pipe leak detection devices. Ballasts can also be used in various UV printing and curing applications.

As a result of COVID-19 and other harmful viruses, our ballasts coupled with UV-C technology has become a necessity in a variety of industrial, residential, commercial and healthcare environments.

12V DC Ballast for UV-C Bulbs
12V DC Ballast for UV-C germicidal bulbs

Optimized UVC Ballast Solutions

UVC ballasts from ISL Products are designed to work with your application and corresponding germicidal bulbs. Our ballasts can be designed and manufactured to your exacting specifications. Ballasts can be tailored to most standard UVC lamp types such as mercury and/or amalgam lamps. We can design UVC ballasts to drive multiple lamps at the same time for larger sanitation assemblies. Our solutions are available in a range of different input voltages. DC ballasts come in both 12VDC and 24VDC, while AC ballasts can run off of 110VAC ~ 220VAC, or 24VAC for HVAC uses. Auto-switching ballasts are the preference for products intended for global use.

Our uvc ballasts are the ideal solution for any type of disinfection system that needs to provide consistent uv-c light output, long lamp life and high reliability. Each of our unique designs are engineered to meet all of the industry safety requirements to provide leading quality and reliability. All of our products are tested for quality control prior to leaving our factory to ensure that they operate as intended in your application.  Contact ISL Products today to discuss your next project requirements! Our LiveChat feature is a great place to start.

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