Best Digital Ballast Reviews 2017

Many people do not want to be limited by climate or season when it comes to growing...

A neat way to grow year-round with absolute ease is to harness hydroponics.

If you are growing plants at home using a hydroponics system, you will need three main things:

  • Reflector
  • Grow lamp
  • Ballast

With hydroponics, you can grow without the need for soil. Mineral nutrient solutions provide the plants with all the sustenance that they need.

The job of your ballast is to regulate the amount of power that goes to your grow lamp.

Trying to grow without ballast will usually result in one of two outcomes... Either your light will fail to function or it will explode. Obviously, neither is what you are looking for!

Today we will examine what you should consider when buying ballast and the advantages of going digital.

We will then glance at 5 of the best digital ballast reviews.

After digesting this article, you should be perfectly placed to make the very most of your hydroponic set-up using digital ballast.

Our Top Picks for Best Digital Ballast

Product Name

Image

Wattage

Voltage

Dimmable?

Price

Our Rating

Apollo Horticulture APL1000 Hydroponic 1000 - Watt HPS

Apollo Horticulture APL1000 Hydroponic 1000 - Watt HPS MH Digital Dimmable Electronic Ballast

1000

120 or 240

Yes

$$$

#3

Apollo Horticulture Purple Reign 400W 600W 1000W Watt

Apollo Horticulture Purple Reign 400W 600W 1000W Watt Digital Dimmable HPS MH Grow Light Ballast for Plant Growing

400

600​

1000​

120 or 240

Yes

$$$

#1
Editor's Choice

VIVOSUN Two Packs 1000 Watt

VIVOSUN 400 watt Dimmable Digital Ballast for HPS MH Grow Light, Soft Start Program & Stable Performance ( Space gray )

1000

120 or 240

Yes

$$

#2

SolisTek Matrix LCD SE/DE 1000W

SolisTek Matrix LCD SE/DE 1000W Dimmable Digital Ballast STK1001LCD

1000

120, 208 or 240

Yes

$$$

#4

VIVOSUN 1000 Watt

VIVOSUN 400 watt Dimmable Digital Ballast for HPS MH Grow Light, Soft Start Program & Stable Performance ( Space gray )

1000

120 or 240

Yes

$$

#5

More...

What Is Digital Ballast?

There are two main types of ballast you can use when growing:

  • Magnetic ballasts
  • Digital ballasts

If you want to make the smart choice, go digital. It's as simple as that.

With digital ballasts, little frequency inductors and switching circuitry are employed to control the voltage and current that reaches your lamp.

These upgraded ballasts include a microprocessor similar to that found in a PC. This means that digital ballasts - also know as electronic ballasts or e-ballasts - can use either MH or HPS lamps.

Their intelligent operation means that they will make adjustments according to the type of lamp being used.

If the lamp itself starts to deteriorate, a digital ballast will boost its output accordingly.

You will enjoy an extremely efficient unit if you opt for digital over magnetic when it comes to the ballast in your set-up. You will get up to 30% more light compared to magnetic models.

Your yield will increase significantly while using much less power.

Digital ballast is a win-win!

Why Use Digital Ballast?

Since using a ballast is inevitable if you are growing with lights and grow tent to grow indoor plants, it makes most sense to look at why you should use digital ballast rather than the older magnetic style.

We will compare them briefly across several key categories...

Energy Saving

  • Digital wins hands-down in terms of energy efficiency. You will use up to 5% less power with digital. If your grow-op has several lights, these savings can scale up nicely

Size and Weight

  • The magnetic style is both heavy and bulky. Digital ballast is very small and lightweight. Think how important this issue is to you and choose accordingly

Noise

  • Magnetic ballasts have coils which vibrate and produce a low hum. As the ballasts gets older and the coil more worn, this noise increases. (It will also lead to reduced efficiency.) If you want a quiet grow room, go for digital. They operate in complete silence

Heat Output

  • Magnetic ballasts produce a great deal of heat. Electric runs through the choke's coil and core meaning they get very hot very quickly. This translates to a huge amount of wasted heat. Although digital ballasts kick off some warmth, internal plastic sheathing helps to reduce this. They are far better in this respect than the older type

Lighting: Frequency

  • With a magnetic ballast, you'll be pegged to the 50Hz frequency received from the mains electric. What this means is that it will go on and off 50 times a second. Such a relatively low frequency will lead to a flickering effect. Digital ballasts are self-regulating with regard to frequency. This falls somewhere in the region of 40,000-100,000 Hz. The massive increase makes for a longer lifespan of the lamp, superior light output and better rendering of color. Another clear win for digital!

Lighting: Consistency

  • With magnetic ballasts, you are limited by the voltage coming in. Any lower than 230V and they will underperform, any more than 240V and you will be wasting energy. Each time you add a new magnetic ballast, the output of your lights will drop. With digital ballasts, you can adjust the incoming voltage up or down as required and regardless of supply

Lighting: Dimming

  • Sometimes you will want to dim your lights during the vegetative stage. This cannot be easily done with magnetic ballast while with digital you can dim them without a problem

Value For Money

  • It is cheaper to buy a magnetic ballast but it will degrade quite quickly and need replacing every 2-3 years for best results. Digital ballasts perform consistently and should last you 10 years fuss-free

As this comparison shows, there really is no choice to be made when it comes to ballast: go digital!

How To Use Digital Ballast?

Using a digital ballast is extremely straightforward.

You will need two cords, one power and one mogul base socket.

The latter cord will attach to a reflector, sometimes known as a hood. This is where you screw your lamp in.

Digital ballasts are compatible with either MH or HPS bulbs so they are extremely versatile.

Look out for RF shielding functionality. This will prevent any clashes with nearby radio frequencies.

Once you are up and running, you can sit back and reap the rewards of a highly effective and super-efficient ballast to really maximize your yield while saving money into the bargain.

What Are The Benefits of Digital Ballast?

Using a digital ballast will help you in many important ways.

  • With more relative lumen output, you can enjoy far more lighting which is crucial for growing to maximum capacity
  • Perfectly able to use either MH or HPS lighting unlike with magnetic ballasts
  • You can simply dim your lighting with digital ballast
  • The soft start means that very little current is used to get things going. You will get amped-up efficiency without any of the niggling problems like blown contacts which can plague magnetic ballasts
  • Zoom straight up to full brightness in just 2 minutes
  • Very small and compact saving you space in your grow room
  • Generally covered by excellent warranties

So...

Now you have a good idea of why you should choose digital ballast over the older magnetic style, we will look at 5 of the best digital ballast reviews.

Think carefully about your budget and precise growing requirements. Read plenty of user reviews for honest feedback and take a look at 5 great ballasts that would be an asset to any grow-op.

Best Digital Ballast Reviews 2016

Product Name

Image

Wattage

Voltage

Dimmable?

Price

Our Rating

Apollo Horticulture APL1000 Hydroponic 1000 - Watt HPS

Apollo Horticulture APL1000 Hydroponic 1000 - Watt HPS MH Digital Dimmable Electronic Ballast

1000

120 or 240

Yes

$$$

#3

Apollo Horticulture Purple Reign 400W 600W 1000W Watt

Apollo Horticulture Purple Reign 400W 600W 1000W Watt Digital Dimmable HPS MH Grow Light Ballast for Plant Growing

400

600​

1000​

120 or 240

Yes

$$$

#1
Editor's Choice

VIVOSUN Two Packs 1000 Watt

VIVOSUN 400 watt Dimmable Digital Ballast for HPS MH Grow Light, Soft Start Program & Stable Performance ( Space gray )

1000

120 or 240

Yes

$$

#2

SolisTek Matrix LCD SE/DE 1000W

SolisTek Matrix LCD SE/DE 1000W Dimmable Digital Ballast STK1001LCD

1000

120, 208 or 240

Yes

$$$

#4

VIVOSUN 1000 Watt

VIVOSUN 400 watt Dimmable Digital Ballast for HPS MH Grow Light, Soft Start Program & Stable Performance ( Space gray )

1000

120 or 240

Yes

$$

#5

First up is the most powerful unit produced by the reputable Apollo Horticulture.

The APL1000 is an extremely capable 1000 watt digital ballast finished in a glorious purple.

This ballast will run very quietly without any compromise on its impressive power output.

You can use either MH or HPS lamps without a hitch and the voltage can be either 120V or 240V. You can also easily tweak the wattage. One of the key selling points of digital ballasts in general is their absolute versatility.

The 2-meter power cord is long enough to make setting up your system a breeze.

You will get a 3-year warranty for complete peace of mind.

For a stable output of flicker-free light, shielding from radio frequencies and exceptional performance, if you are looking for a top-rated digital ballast, the Apollo Horticulture APL1000 is well worth popping on your shortlist.


Pros

  • Automatic power off to prevent short circuits
  • Silent but extremely powerful
  • Can run MH or HPS lamps seamlessly
  • Fully adjustable at 50%, 75% and 100% for complete flexibility
  • Compatible with both 120V and 240V supply
  • Built-in cooling fan to reduce the temperature
  • Great warranty

Cons

  • Reasonably expensive but still good value for money

The next offering from Apollo Horticulture is a dimmable digital ballast compatible with lights of 400W, 600W and 1000W.

If you are looking for a highly durable unit that allows the option of using different wattage lamps, the Purple Reign is worth looking into. Shopping around for the best bulbs is tiresome enough without being limited by your ballast.

Dimmable digital ballasts are standard. Not all, though, offer you such latitude with wattage. This is a clear advantage when it comes to dealing with different growth stages.

As with the previous Apollo Horticulture model, you can benefit from extreme power without being bothered by any noise when it's up and running.

The digital display will let you access all the key information you need. It's simple to read and use. The notched dial makes switching settings hassle-free.

The intended use for Apollo Horticulture ballasts are professional greenhouse set-ups with a great airflow. Make sure that you do not rush into buying one of these if you are not operating under these conditions.

If you want a long-lasting digital ballast that allows you the freedom described above, why not road-test the Apollo Horticulture Purple Reign?

It's a strong contender for best digital ballast.


Pros

  • Range of 400-1050W in one handy package
  • 12 different settings for complete flexibility
  • Great customer service in the event of any problems
  • Very quiet with no compromise on power
  • Digital display clear and easy to use
  • Excellent 3-year warranty
  • Great value for money

Cons

  • Quite big and heavy for a digital ballast
  • Can get fairly hot so ensure adequate ventilation and use fans

VIVOSUN do a great deal with this double pack of 1000 watt digital, dimmable ballast that will complement any growing room beautifully.

You can use either 120V or 240V with this ballast and the 1000W of power is more than enough for most needs.

Using this piece of kit, you will be protected against overheating, short circuits and failure of ignition, common niggles that can become a problem.

It's pretty quiet when in use and is not prone to overheating.

The warranty and customer service mean that you will not have any issues in the event of a fault. You'll be covered for 3 years even if you use your equipment daily for prolonged periods. This peace of mind allows you to focus on growing without worrying about things going wrong.

You can use several ballasts simultaneously thanks to the soft start functionality.

User reviews outline overwhelmingly positive experiences using this digital ballast and there are very few reported problems.


Pros

  • Protection against overheating and end-of-bulb-life
  • Also protected against short circuits and ignition failure
  • Outstanding 8-foot power cord for ease of set-up
  • 3-year warranty coupled with superb customer service
  • Soft start to enable use of multiple ballasts
  • Slow light start-up helps prevent premature bulb failure

Cons

  • Not the cheapest digital ballast available although reasonable overall value

SolisTek has a great range of digital ballasts and the most recent product is the Matrix STK1001LCD.

This true digital ballast on a software-based platform can be used with 120V, 208V or 240V.

The inbuilt digital timer means that you can fully customize your on/off settings for any grow cycle.

This unit is dimmable and also offers multiple wattage settings so you are not limited in what you do. If this is important to your operation then always look for a model with this feature.

With a neat green display which is dark-cycle friendly and a handy remote, using this ballast is really straightforward.

For a one-size-fits-all ballast that will last for many years, think about the SolisTek Matrix and see if it works well with your grow-op.


Pros

  • Compatible with all voltages
  • Digital timer to schedule your growing fuss-free
  • Green display on LCD will not disrupt plants when they are sleeping
  • Remote control for ease of operation
  • Ignition control to sequentially start your lights
  • Dimmable with multiple wattages at your disposal
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Can seem complicated if you are not tech-savvy

The final digital ballast we will look at is another sterling product from VIVOSUN, the 1000 watt dimmable ballast.

This great all-rounder is the same in all respects as the product reviewed above. The sole difference is that you get a single unit rather than the double pack which is also available.

If you are just starting out but perhaps uncertain, you can save money while still getting a quality digital ballast from a trusted brand.


Pros

  • Say goodbye to overheating with inbuilt protection
  • Short circuits and ignition failure protected
  • Easy to set up
  • 3-year warranty and first-rate customer service
  • Can use multiple ballasts thanks to soft start
  • Slow light start-up helps prevent premature bulb failure

Cons

  • Slightly less value for money than the double pack reviewed above

Conclusion

The main lesson to take from this look at ballasts is to choose digital over magnetic.

Every growing operation has different needs so it is not really possible to suggest that one of these ballasts wins out over the others.

As with any purchase, think closely about precisely what you want from this equipment and see which of these ballasts is the best fit.

They are all excellent products and come covered with lengthy warranties.

Don't skimp on buying ballast as the outcome of your grow will be adversely affected if you try to use cheap ballasts.

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Happy growing!

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Dianne T. Lampe
 

Hi there, I’m Dianne! Welcome to a one-stop shop for your gardening needs. We aim here to offer up a very wide range of information about many aspects of gardening. From flowers and planting through to vegetables and accessories, find all the information you need here. We have a true passion for everything green. We’re highly motivated to develop this site continuously and offer any insights we can alongside useful facts and handy hints. Please get in touch and let us know what you would like us to cover. Thoughts and feedback are always welcomed. Enjoy!

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