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Thread: Using a "commercial" ballast in a residence (GE432MV-N-DIY, 74465)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Using a "commercial" ballast in a residence (GE432MV-N-DIY, 74465)

    Hi,

    I have ten 26 year old 2' x 4' flourescent troffers with T12 magnetic ballasts (4 lamps & 2 ballasts each) in my basement. Over the last year or so the ballasts are all starting to fail.

    I'm retrofitting the troffers over to T8 ballasts and lamps. My plan was to start tonight with the 3 ballasts I picked up today--maybe do 3 a week over the next few weekends.

    I was choosing between two GE electronic models. They're in the same case. One was GE432-120RES-DIY, said "residential electronic ballast" and is Class B 120V single tap. The other was GE432MV-N-DIY, said "high-performance electronic ballast" and is Class A 120-277.

    I choose the "high performance" one. The load with 4 lamps is only 0.9 A @120V as opposed to almost twice that with the regular "residential" one. (the load per lamp with the "residential" ballast was only slightly less than the existing T12 ballasts) The previous owner skimped on the electrical when the basement was finished in 1985 and the circuits tend to get full, so taking 2 A off each 15A circuit will help get the load cut down.


    After tearing off the plastic on the first one, the folded up paper from GE fell out and up on reading, it states several times "This ballast should only be installed in a commercial invironment. Do not install this ballast in a residential environment."


    Can anyone explain why the literature states this and why I shouldn't install this ballast in a residential basement?



    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    My supplier told me that there was a commercial and residential ballast but I didn't believe him. He said the rep stated the residential ballasts were superior. Why I have no idea.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by deucejmp View Post
    Hi,

    I have ten 26 year old 2' x 4' flourescent troffers with T12 magnetic ballasts (4 lamps & 2 ballasts each) in my basement. Over the last year or so the ballasts are all starting to fail.

    I'm retrofitting the troffers over to T8 ballasts and lamps. My plan was to start tonight with the 3 ballasts I picked up today--maybe do 3 a week over the next few weekends.

    I was choosing between two GE electronic models. They're in the same case. One was GE432-120RES-DIY, said "residential electronic ballast" and is Class B 120V single tap. The other was GE432MV-N-DIY, said "high-performance electronic ballast" and is Class A 120-277.

    I choose the "high performance" one. The load with 4 lamps is only 0.9 A @120V as opposed to almost twice that with the regular "residential" one. (the load per lamp with the "residential" ballast was only slightly less than the existing T12 ballasts) The previous owner skimped on the electrical when the basement was finished in 1985 and the circuits tend to get full, so taking 2 A off each 15A circuit will help get the load cut down.


    After tearing off the plastic on the first one, the folded up paper from GE fell out and up on reading, it states several times "This ballast should only be installed in a commercial invironment. Do not install this ballast in a residential environment."




    Can anyone explain why the literature states this and why I shouldn't install this ballast in a residential basement?



    Thanks!

    From what I've been told most commercial installations tend to be hung away from the ceiling or the ceilings in most commercial is metal or noncombustible. The ballasts run hotter in commercial fixtures. The typical fixture in a residence tends to get mounted directly to the ceiling . They just want to make sure the hotter ballasts don't get installed where in direct contact with wooden or other combustible material as they often do in houses.
    If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Eventually I got my search phrased just right and started finding material in the right ballpark...


    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the only difference is in the FCC EMI limits. A ballast manufactured to the residential standard is going to have lower allowed limits on electromagnetic interference. A Class A non-residential rated ballast falls under the less strict commercial standard and may emit more EMI/RFI.

    So in regard to a residential install, your supplier is right in that a residential rated ballast will be a superior product for that install because of the stricter EMI limits. As to which is a superior product if only considering performance, quality, etc. that's a different question. Between the two I was looking at; the residential one was less expensive, but that's because the extra manufacturing cost is probably greater than the cost savings when designed to the less strict standard. The 120-277 smart-tap has more circuitry, the ballast probably is designed for a longer life, etc.

    Why they explicitly state you "MAY NOT" use this in a residential environment I'm not sure, because I would think you should be fine if you and your neighbors aren't affected by the EMI.




    In my case; the savings on current draw is enough for me to want to use this ballast anyway. So I think the question I need to ask is if a computer, tv and other residential equipment is on the same circuit (let alone the rest of the house)--should I expect this ballast to cause a problem for me? If anyone has experience or knowledge on this I would appreciate a heads up.


    Given this is a fluorescent ballast I would guess most of the EMI is conducted onto the line and not radiated. The question is how bad the EMI may be. I'll need to just test it out and see. I'm not going to do it until probably tomorrow. If someone has useful info, I could potentially save myself the time on testing if this situation is likely to cause issues anyway.

    I have a colleague in the EMC field. This isn't his area of EMC but I'll send him an email and see what he says...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Bill View Post
    From what I've been told most commercial installations tend to be hung away from the ceiling or the ceilings in most commercial is metal or noncombustible. The ballasts run hotter in commercial fixtures. The typical fixture in a residence tends to get mounted directly to the ceiling . They just want to make sure the hotter ballasts don't get installed where in direct contact with wooden or other combustible material as they often do in houses.
    If we were talking magnetic ballasts I could agree on the heat issue. With these I want to say no.

    Given the same lamp in both models, the commercial ballast has about half the current draw so the device overall is using considerably less power. There would have to be a lot of crazy stuff going on inside for two devices that are in general pretty similar to be generating substantially different amounts of heat, especially if the hotter one is using half the power.


    The sound rating is even the same between both (20-24 dB). I might end up just calling GE tomorrow and asking tech support, but given GE's massive size it might take longer to do that than it will to just install it and test. There's a TV, computer and monitor on the same circuit and directly underneath, so I would think if there is going to be a problem I should see it there first. If they operate fine, I think I can expect to see no problems.

  6. #6
    Can anyone explain why the literature states this and why I shouldn't install this ballast in a residential basement? Thanks!
    It doesn't comply with FCC regulations on permissible interference emissions for residential use. They're only FCC approved for non-consumer use. I personally don't think it really matters, but it does matter to fixture manufactures who are putting fixtures for use in homes into market. If the ballast can't meet FCC Part B residential standards, the fixture will not qualify for Energy Star label.

    There are some dual rated ballasts. Look at GE 74472.

    You'll see that it is rated FCC Class B when its operated at 120v while its only approved for Class A on 277v operation.

    Residential use only ballasts can't be used in commercial installs as they're not power factor corrected and they have a power factor of about 0.6. It will lower the building power factor and forget about the utility paying any subsidy.

    Dual rated ballasts like GE 74472 employs PFC that meets power factor requirement for commercial use as well as FCC requirements for residential use.
    Last edited by Electric-Light; 04-04-11 at 12:54 AM.

  7. #7
    It's not professional to endorse it, but it will work, just like feeding them power through 18 AWG thermostat wire will work just fine.

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