An article I wrote for TED Magazine recently describes the emergence of the NEMA Premium Ballast. Basically, this is a program, with a mark, that identifies the industry’s most efficient fluorescent electronic ballasts available for 4-ft. T8 lamps.

It’s a great idea, even if simply to avoid confusion. Everybody calls their electronic ballasts “high efficiency” products, so how are we supposed to easily tell the efficient standard ballasts from the super-efficient new-generation ballasts? Then there’s the added benefit of calling out the most efficient products for those interested in maximizing energy savings.

Now you can look for the NEMA Premium mark, which looks like this:

2008_premiumballast

A NEMA Premium ballast:

* Provides same light output as a similar standard electronic ballast; BUT
* Does so more efficiently—reducing lighting power by another 2W to 5W (typically 3W), as shown below:

ted_elite_ballasts_graphic_0809_095_chart

Ballasts are available:

* instant-start or programmed-start
* dimmable models
* Low (<.86), normal (.86-1), and high (greater than 1) ballast factor * Universal voltage * One, two, three or four lamps * Value-added features such as antistriation and anti-arcing The tradeoff: * Can cost 10-20% more than standard electronic ballasts Manufacturers include: * Advance (Philips Electronics) * Sylvania * GE * Universal Lighting Technologies * Robertson Worldwide * Espen Technologies * American Ballast * Technical Consumer Products * Acuity Brand (Accupro Brand) The NEMA Premium Ballast program may expand in the future to include T4, T5, and HID ballasts and possibly also LED drivers and power supplies. Click here for more information about the program (PDF), including a list of manufacturers and qualifying products by model number.

Click here to read the entire article at TED Magazine’s website.