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How to Switch From a Magnetic Ballast to an Electronic Ballast

Updated July 20, 2017

Switching from magnetic to electronic ballasts in fluorescent lighting fixtures can save energy and money. Magnetic ballasts use outdated technology and need to be replaced more often than newer electronic ballasts. Electronic ballasts use less energy and do not hum or cause flickering like typical magnetic ballasts. Upgrading a fluorescent lighting fixture to use an electronic ballast is easy with a few simple tools.

Turn off the power running to the fixture.

Open the fixture and remove the lamps and ballast housing.

Use wire cutters to cut the both the power and neutral wire coming into the fixture. Power wires are black and neutral wires are white. Cap the wires running into the fixture with wire nuts.

Use wire cutters to cut the wires connected to the sockets to separate them from the ballast. Remove the magnetic ballast from the fixture.

Install the electronic ballast by screwing it into the fixture where the magnetic ballast was removed.

Use wire nuts to connect socket wires. Refer to the diagram on the electronic ballast as the wiring will vary with the number and type of bulbs in the fixture. Connect the power and neutral wires running to the fixture to the corresponding ballast wires. Secure the wires with wire nuts.

Replace the ballast housing and lamps, then turn on the power running to the fixture.

Warning

Eliminate the risk of shock by always turning off the power to the electrical device you are working on. Call an electrician if you are ever unsure about working on electrical devices. Magnetic ballasts contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and must be recycled. Check with local recycling centres for guidelines and drop-off locations.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire cutters
  • Wire nuts
  • Electronic ballast
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About the Author

Kathleen Michelau is a professional writer who received the President's Scholarship for Journalism in 2002 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and philosophy from the University of Dayton. She is a Chicagoan who enjoys writing about home repair, hobbies and electronics.