I am trying to find some info regarding the power usage of fluorescent ballasts. I was told that it takes more electricity to energize a ballast initially than to run the light for a few hours. I don’t know if that’s true with the new rapid-start/electronic ballasts. Is it going to save any energy to turn off office lights for an hour, then turn them back on?
Great question! Most folks don’t realize all the modern changes in fluorescent lighting. The ballasts are now electronic and this dramatically changes performance and efficiency. Remember the days of the old “starters” (the little aluminum can inside the fixture)? Modern fluorescents have a starter built into the ballast. The ballast is used to energize the lamp and start the flow of electrons.
In studies I have read, you should always turn off the lights when they are not needed, even if only for a few minutes. The calculations show that the energy used to start the lamp is saved in a few minutes of operation. The on-off cycles really do not affect the life of the newer florescent lighting. Sometime a “few minutes” can turn into a few hours, so always turn the lights off.