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Hydroponics Digital Ballasts and HID Lighting: The Explosive Truth

Explosions aren’t good for your hydroponics plants Explosions aren’t good for your hydroponics plants © RosebudMag.com

Have you priced HID hydroponics bulbs lately? Some grower friends of mine became very familiar with pricing, because their bulbs exploded when they were using them with hydroponics digital ballasts.

And we’re not talking about cheapo bulbs either. My buddies are into the Ushio and Solar Max dual spectrum bulbs that sell for $150 each, or more.

Exploding bulbs sucks, especially when you’re in the growroom when it happens. They damage plants and people. If shards of glass or bulb innards get inside your flowers, it can be a real bummer.

What causes exploding bulbs? One problem is bad handling. You’d have thought that my buddies would know that you don’t spend $150 each for bulbs and then throw them in the back of a pick-up truck for a long, bumpy ride down a washboard road to your grow room.

You don’t store HID bulbs outdoors in a shed where winter temperatures go to 25F, and then bring them into your 75F grow room and fire them up right away.

Nor do you handle the glass parts of your bulbs with your bare hands, or shake the bulbs so you can see the little parts inside move around.

What else don’t you do? You don’t foliar feed your plants and inadvertently spray liquid on your bulbs, especially when they’re lit and blazing hot.

Of course, other things you can do to protect your bulbs include ensuring that you have surge protectors and other electronics interfaces in place to isolate them from problems that come in via your power lines or wiring.

But it’s interesting that many growers overlook the most important and potentially damaging item in the hydroponics lighting supply chain: their ballasts.

By now, about 55% of all serious hydroponics growers have replaced their old, hot, boat anchor, noisy, radio frequency generating magnetic core and coil ballasts with digital ballasts.

And some digital ballasts by some manufacturers work way better than the core and coil dinosaurs some of the time.

Not only that, some digital ballasts have a lot of convenience and efficiency features that magnetic dinosaur ballasts don’t have, including that they can be switched back and forth to power HPS or MH bulbs, they have adjustable wattage, they’re smaller, and they run cooler.

However you need to know that big problems exist for you because the early generations of hydroponics digital ballasts, which still comprise the majority of the marketplace, were built in a hurry, without much research and design, and with inferior components.

The research and design flaws are really your biggest problem, beyond the fact that those digital ballasts are unreliable and poorly made, with weak warranties and customer service backing them up.

What’s happened is that the early digital ballast manufacturers such as Lumatek and Quantum chose to use a very high operating frequency that’s way too intense for most HID bulbs on the market that were designed for much lower frequencies.

Along with this bulb-busting problem, these digital ballasts create unstable sawtooth waveforms and other inconsistencies that make life way harder for your expensive bulbs.

So even if your bulbs don’t explode in your face, what’s happening to them is that they’re getting worn out earlier, they aren’t giving you their maximum light intensity or light spectrum, and they run hotter than they need to.

Over time, this costs you extra money for electricity and replacement bulbs, and it costs you in lost hydroponics growth rate and yield too.

Savvy growers are dealing with these problems in creative ways. One is that they’re trying to force bulb manufacturers to sell new “digital” bulbs that can handle high frequency, unstable digital ballasts.

We’ve even heard of a digital ballast manufacturer trying to sell you “digital” bulbs that can handle the instability and too-high frequency of their defective digital ballasts.

Another tactic is to use a new type of digital ballast that has a patented low-frequency square waveform that’s totally safe for any type of HID bulb.

Not only does this low frequency ballast (BaddAss Ballast) eliminate ballast-bulb mismatch problems, it has all the beneficial features that other digital ballasts offer, and it’s backed by the longest warranty (5 years) in the hydroponics digital ballast industry.

The manufacturer (Advanced Nutrients) recognizes that growers need to have confidence in being able to replace their inferior digital or magnetic ballasts with the BaddAss, so they’ve offered a 6-month special guarantee that basically means you can try the ballast risk free.

Please note that the BaddAss comes in a 1000 watt and a 600 watt version, and that each version is dimmable so you can customize how much light your plants receive.

Also be aware that the BaddAss has eliminated radio frequency interference (RFI) problems found in almost all other ballasts. What’s wrong with RFI? It messes up telephones, computers and other devices in your home, and it also generates a traceable electronic signature outside your home, that’s what.

As the hydroponics industry modernizes, you’ll see lots of technology developed and as with computers, cellular phones and Hi-Def television, the early generations of devices are usually defective.

Now with the BaddAss digital low-frequency hydroponics ballasts you finally have what should have been provided for you in the first place:  a well-engineered, bulb-friendly, energy-saving, light output-enhancing, dimmable digital hydroponics ballast that far outperforms magnetic ballasts and all the other digital ballasts.

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Hydroponics digital ballasts just took a quantum leap forward. RosebudMag.com
Last modified on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 21:04

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