Is it Your Ballast or Your Lights Failing?

Whether you are using fluorescent tubes or one of our LED troffer retrofit kits, you may see dimming, flickering, or color changing after extended use. You might think your lights are going bad. But in the case of fixtures with external hardware, you might want to check your ballast before tossing your bulbs.

A ballast regulates the amount of electricity running through your light bulbs to ensure they don’t burn out quickly. Once it gives off enough voltage to start your bulbs, it quickly shunts the current down to a steady flow. If the ballast goes bad your lights are subject to overdriving or underdriving. This results in your bulbs appearing to be going out. So how do you check if it’s your tube light bulbs or your ballast?

What Causes Ballast Failure?

Before you check which component is going bad, it’s worth learning what causes premature failure. Ballasts and LED drivers are subject to the elements, even though they are usually mounted inside. Heat and moisture are common culprits, as well as extreme heat and coldness. Combined with these conditions, condensation can lead to corrosion which may prompt cleaning or replacing your ballast.

How to Check Your Ballast

Step 1: Shut off the electricity to your light fixture.

Step 2: Remove the lens and tube light bulbs.

Step 3: Remove the ballast cover, if the ballast is not already exposed.

Step 4: Check for leaking oil or burnt/swollen spots.

Step 5: Use a multimeter and hold the probes to the hot wire connections and the neutral wire connections, if you are unsure. If the needle doesn’t sweep across, your ballast is busted.

Step 6: If you are still unsure, use a new fluorescent or LED tube light bulb to see if it lights up.

Ballasts are inexpensive to replace and are easy to install. But you can bypass the ballast altogether using our LED tube lights! Regardless, it’s important to know when it’s time to replace parts, just like it’s important to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn for tips and updates. Check back next week when we make a special announcement. Stay tuned.