Development and commercialization of a fully electronic ballast for fluorescent lamp

Electronic ballast (inverter) built in fluorescent lamp  fixtures for facility usage

Fig.1 Electronic ballast (inverter) built in fluorescent lamp fixtures for facility usage

Printed circuit board of electronic  ballast (inverter)

Fig.2 Printed circuit board of electronic ballast (inverter)

    Fluorescent- lamp fixtures are fitted with an in-built ballast for operating the lamp. Although fluorescent lamp have good efficiency , further improvement was expected from the viewpoint of energy saving. Conventional type ballast composed of silicon-steel plates core and copper windings in the form of magnetic-leakage transformers have limitations to improve the efficiency..

    On another front, it is known that the luminous efficiency of a fluorescent lamp can be increased by operating at high frequencies of several hundred hertz. Accordingly, research and development—showing that if a commercial power source could efficiently be converted to high frequency, an electronic ballast (inverter) that can operate a fluorescent lamp at high frequency ought to be realizable—has been continued.

    Although solving many problems, such as improving conversion efficiency to high-frequency, attaining high input power factor, lowering noise, high reliability and decreasing costs, had been taken the time, finally, the world’s first “electronic fluorescent lamp ballast” was successfully developed in 1978 and commercialized soon after.

    To achieve high power factor, this electronic ballast converted an commercial alternating-current power source to a high-frequency one without the smoothing of input power Luminous efficiency on this ballast was only moderately increased. High efficiency was subsequently obtained by newly developed smoothing circuit maintaining high power factor.. As a result, power saving of 20 to 30% compared to a conventional magnetic-leakage type ballast was achieved. Furthermore, circuit technology for continuously dimming a light output of fluorescent lamp up to 20% was developed, and combined with a light control system, this technology successfully achieved a drastic power saving of about 50%.

    The eight engineers at Toshiba Lighting and Technology Corporation involved in this research and development—Hisao Kobayashi, Nanjo Aoike, Kenichi Inui, Kempo Ohe, Katsuyuki Ide, Kenichi Yajima, Kohei Yuhara, and Mitsuyasu Otabe—received the “Japan Lighting Award” from the Illuminating Engineering Institute of Japan in 1982.

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