Is there any relationship between a ballast for a flurescent light and the ballast that is used in an airship?
How did the term "ballast" get started as a part in an electric light?
- ghouly05Lv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
I don't know when it started being used in electronics, but ballast of any kind is something that provides stability of some sort.
In electronics ballast is a device, often a resistor, that maintains the current in a circuit at a constant value by varying its resistance in order to counteract changes in voltage. It is also a device that maintains the current through a fluorescent or mercury lamp at the desired constant value, sometimes also providing the necessary starting voltage and current.
Notice that these definitions mean it stablizes voltage or current.
In nautical terms, ballast is any heavy material carried temporarily or permanently in a vessel to provide desired draft and stability.
I am sure it's use in electronics came well after it's use in the nautical field, but cannot pinpoint when that happened, but it is clear "providing stability" is a common factor.
- ?Lv 71 decade ago
Actually, there is a relationship, and it is a very strong one, and even though they are physically distinct, the word was chosen in both instances (or at least in the last instance) because it performs the same function in both devices. I can't believe people would mislead you on this. Ballast in an airship or even in a traditional ship gives it stability, maintains literally "an even keel" so that the craft is not upset by a sudden wave, gust of wind, etc.
The word "ballast" was chosen for exactly the same reason in a an electric circuit, including especially one with a fluorescent light because it stabilizes the circuit, and as a resistor or at least resistive element, maintains the current drain in an electrical circuit (which in a fluorescent light can vary wildly especially on startup) at the same "even keel" to prevent wild fluctuations in current consujmption (it is current, not voltage that is kept relatively constant by a ballast element).
The electrical term "ballast" could apply to other circuits but in fact it has been overtaken in electronic usage and so we only encounter it in fluorescent lights these days.
- danechipLv 61 decade ago
A boats ballast is just weight added for stability, water, sand, rock etc.
An electrical ballast is a device intended to limit the amount of current in an electric circuit.
- Lynne WLv 61 decade ago
No relationship between the two.
A ballast for the light is the metal frame to which the light tubes are attached.