A fluorescent lamp ballast is an electrical device required for starting and operating a fluorescent lamp. The ballast provides the high voltage needed to start the lamps by initiating its discharge and then limits the current to a safe value when the discharge is established.
The original U.S. fluorescent ballast efficiency standards for ballasts operating several types of T12 lamps took effect in 1991. New standards that affect ballasts driving the same lamps require that ballasts used in luminaires (for new and renovated buildings) manufactured on or after April 1, 2005 must have efficiencies at levels as high as those of electronic ballasts. Such ballasts sold by ballast manufacturers on or after July 1, 2005 must meet the new efficiency levels. Ballasts incorporated into luminaires by luminaire manufacturers on or after April 1, 2006 must meet the standards. Ballasts used for replacement (existing buildings) have until June 30, 2010 to meet the new standards.
The EES Group conducted technical and economic analyses comparing three kinds of ballasts (magnetic, electronic, and cathode cutout) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). After several rounds of analysis and public workshops between 1994 and 1999, DOE assisted a stakeholder negotiation in October 1999. DOE published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) and the Technical Support Document (TSD) in March 2000. These documents are available at DOE's fluorescent ballast website. The spreadsheet models used for the Life-Cycle Cost (LCC) and National Energy Savings (NES) models may also be downloaded from the website. DOE published the Final Rule in September 2000 on the same website. (Note: In the TSD, Appendix B contains documentation for the NES analysis and the Regulatory Impact Analysis, as well as model documentation, in addition to material on Marginal Prices.)
The ballast analysis considered a number of key issues in response to stakeholder comments and questions. (Final stakeholder comments and responses are found in the NOPR.) One of the key analysis issues was to determine the future trend of electronic ballast shipments relative to the total ballast market. EES collected data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census and from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Additionally, EES collected data from electric utilities on their demand-side management (DSM) programs for electronic ballasts. This was used as part of the analysis of impacts of non-regulatory programs (see Appendix B of the TSD). EES published an LBNL report on the impacts of DSM programs on the electronic ballast market from 1992 - 1997. Other important issues investigated by EES were whether those facilities that have already installed electronic ballasts are in locations with higher than average electricty prices or greater than average lighting hours.
The analysis estimated primary energy savings from the standards in the range of 1 to 5 quadrillion Btus.