LED Tip 6: Make Sure You Understand What Ballast Compatible Means

In the world of LED, there are products that are direct connect and those that are ballast compatible? What does that mean? In this tip, we explain the pros and cons of ballast compatible led products

1. What is Direct Connect LED Products?

Direct connect LED products requires native AC current. The LED Driver takes AC power as input and then converts it to DC power to light up the LEDs. So if you are retrofitting an existing HID fixture over to LED, you will have to remove the fixtures ballast and bulb and replace with the native LED Driver and Head. The best way to think of this is a bulb and ballast replacement. Because the LED Driver requires AC Power, there is no value or use in the HID ballast.

2. What is Ballast Compatible LED Products?

Ballast compatible products are designed to use the existing ballast that is already installed in the fixture. There are some pros and cons with this solution, the biggest benefit is it reduces installation time. There are however, several negatives with this type of installation.

Pros and Cons

  • LED Drivers that connect directly to native AC sources are extremely efficient, and the total package is typically, if not always, more efficient than ballast compatible solutions.
  • Direct Connect Installation times are slightly longer, because there are extra steps to remove the ballast.
  • Ballast compatible is not universal. There is a chance, better than average, that you may have a driver that is not compatible with the LED product. The engineers who design the ballast compatible product try to ensure their product is compatible with most main stream ballasts, however, you may have one that they have not tested against.
  • Ballasts fail. (Drivers do to). But if your ballast is old, then you may have created a future maintenance issue.

Our Recommendation

We like direct connect solutions better. Its more efficient, and less problematic. While there is a slight increase in installation time, its a lot cheaper in the long term than having to maintain the old ballast a short time later.

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