Program Start versus Instant Start Ballasts

ME-DTC Advanced Lighting Technology Products -Since 1974

Premira Multi-volt Smart Electronic 50 year Ballast


The basic differences between Instant Start and Program Start Ballast


Instant Start(IS) Electronic Ballasts:


Instant-start ballast provides a high initial voltage to start the lamp without preheating the cathodes. Instant start ballast are the most energy efficient type, but gives the least number of starts.   This is the best type for installations where lamps are not turned on and off very often. 


*  Instant Start ballasts consume less energy than comparable program start ballasts.

*  Most energy efficient solution to fluorescent lamp ballasting.

*  Will cause shorter lamp life if used in applications with frequent switching, or on/off cylces.

*  Applications:  Commercial/Office, Retail, Decorative, Restrooms


Program Start (Rapid-Start) Electronic Ballast:


Rapid-start ballast provides low voltage to heat the lamp cathodes before applying higher starting voltage, and it continues to provide cathode heating voltage during normal lamp operation. Continued cathode heating is not required for normal lamp operation, so the associated ballast power draw is considered lost. However, preheating the lamp cathodes decreases the required starting voltage and cathode wear, allowing for more starting cycles and/or extending lamp life.  Rapid start ballast provide superior lamp life and more cycle life, but uses slightly more energy.


*  Provide maximum lamp life in frequent starting conditions.

*  Program Start ballast precisely heat the lamp cathodes to 700°C prior to lamp ignition.

*  This puts the least amount of stress on the lamp electrodes, resulting in maximum lamp life regardless of the number of lamp starts.

*  Applications:  Offices, Use with Occupancy Sensors 


Additional Ballast Resources


Electronic Ballast Index

Electronic Ballast Description Explanation & Lamp Identification Guid