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Research and Application of Electronic Ballast Circuit Diagram

Author: Apogeeweb
Date: 16 Jan 2020


Ⅰ Introduction

Ⅱ Electronic Ballast Circuit Diagram Research Application

 2.1 Overview

 2.2 Circuit Structure of High-Performance Electronic Ballast

       2.2.1 Power Factor Correction Circuit

       2.2.2 Inverter Circuit

       2.2.3 Lamp Circuit Network

       2.2.4 Control Circuit

2.3 High-Performance Electronic Ballast Dedicated Integrated Controller of ML4830 Series

       2.3.1 Introduction to ML4831/32 Function

       2.3.2 The Improvement of the Internal Function of ML4833

2.4 High-performance Electronic Ballast Built by ML4833




In the 1970s, a worldwide energy crisis emerged. The urgency of energy conservation has led many companies to focus on energy-saving light sources and electronic ballasts for fluorescent lamps. With the rapid development of semiconductor technology, various high-return power switching devices are emerging, which provide conditions for the development of electronic ballasts.

In the late 1970s, foreign manufacturers took the lead in launching the first generation of electronic ballasts, which was a major innovation in the history of lighting development. Because it has many advantages such as energy-saving, it has aroused great concern and interest around the world. It is considered to be an ideal product to replace the inductance ballast. Later, some well-known enterprises have invested considerable manpower and material resources to carry out higher-level research and development.


Due to the rapid advancement of microelectronics technology, the development of electronic ballasts to high performance and high reliability has been promoted. Many semiconductor companies have introduced a series of products for dedicated power switching devices and control ICs. In 1984, Siemens developed an active power factor correction IC such as the TPA4812 with a power factor of 0.99. Subsequently, some companies have successively launched integrated electronic ballasts. In 1989, Finland's Hell Valley Company successfully launched electronically adjustable ballast monolithic integrated circuit ballasts. Electronic ballasts have been promoted and applied throughout the world, especially in developed countries.

 Figure 1. Ballast

Figure 1. Ballast

China's research and development of electronic ballasts started late, the technology is not advanced, early understanding of the difficulty and complexity of this product is insufficient, the development of special semiconductor devices has not kept up, the quality of products has not passed, and the market is extremely irregular. A large number of low-priced inferior goods were thrown to the market, causing losses to consumers and seriously damaging the image of electronic ballasts.


In the late 1990s, due to the rapid development and improvement of production levels, from circuit design to electronic components, the products entered a relatively mature stage, and high-quality products entered the construction project. The implementation of China's green lighting project paved the way for the promotion and application of electronic ballasts.


Knowledge of Electronic Ballast for Fluorescent Lamps and Germicidal Lamps


The electronic ballast is an electronic control device that uses a semiconductor electronic component to convert a direct current or low frequency alternating current voltage into a high frequency alternating current voltage, and drives a light source such as a low pressure gas discharge lamp (sterilization lamp) or a tungsten halogen lamp. The most widely used is the electronic ballast for fluorescent lamps.


Due to the adoption of modern soft-switching inverter technology and advanced active power factor correction technology and electronic filtering measures, the electronic ballast has good electromagnetic compatibility and reduces the self-loss of the ballast.


 Electronic Ballast Circuit Diagram Research Application

2.1 Overview

On October 1, 1997, China's "Green Lighting Project" was officially launched. This is a major decision and measure in the field of lighting technology, which has a huge impact on China's energy, electric light source and lighting technology, and even environmental protection.


As an important target of the "green lighting project", China will replace the incandescent lamp with an integrated energy-saving lamp composed of electronic ballasts and compact fluorescent lamps and promote more than 300 million energy-saving lamp, forming the terminal's ability to save 22 billion kWh, which is equivalent to saving about 49-63 billion yuan electricity construction funds. In addition to saving electricity, it can actually reduce social expenditures by 30-40 billion yuan. According to relevant experts from the Ministry of Information Industry, under the same luminous flux conditions, energy-saving lamps can save 80% of energy compared with incandescent lamps, and the cost of purchasing energy-saving lamps can be recovered in the 8-10 months of electricity savings. The use of electronic energy-saving lamps in ordinary households, enterprises and institutions, hotels, restaurants, and commercial systems is more cost-effective than incandescent lamps.


However, the old-fashioned inductance ballasts currently working at the industrial frequency generally have the disadvantages of high energy consumption, low efficiency, large volume, and large amount of copper needed. Therefore, the state has set a policy which is to replace traditional inductance ballasts with high frequency electronic ballasts. Currently, some electronic ballasts have appeared on the market, and Table 1 lists the performance comparison of these electronic ballasts. According to the International Electrotechnical Commission standard IEC929 and China's professional standard ZBK74012-90, the electronic ballast should be used in "normal conditions, the lamp should be activated, but it does not cause damage to the lamp performance"; "The shortest time to apply the cathode preheating voltage should not be less than 0.4s" and "the crest factor of the open circuit voltage shall not exceed 1.8; during the minimum warm-up period, no extremely narrow voltage peaks that do not affect the rms value shall be generated", etc.


As listed in table 1, except for high grade electronic ballasts, they are unqualified products. In particular, as early as 1982, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) developed a standard called “interference of household equipment and similar electrical equipment to the power supply system”, namely the IEC555-2 standard. In 1987, Europe also developed a similar EN60555-2 standard.


Both standards strictly limit the power factor of the equipment to be close to 1, and it also clearly stated that, all products that do not meet the standards are not allowed to be sold. In view of the great harm caused by the low power factor, it is very important and necessary to impose regulations on the power factor of electronic equipment and products that must be close to 1.

 Figure 2. Brief Comparison of Low, Medium and High Grade Electronic Ballasts

Figure 2. Brief Comparison of Low, Medium and High Grade Electronic Ballasts


We believe that the high-performance electronic ballast should be a product that has both power factor correction and lamp filament preheating, lighting adjustment and lamp circuit protection, and is fully compliant with IEC555-2 and similar standards. The basic principles of the circuit structure and power factor correction circuit that must be provided for high-performance electronic ballasts are briefly discussed in this article. The integrated controllers for electronic ballasts ML4831, ML4832, ML4833 and high-performance electronic ballast circuits composed of them are highlighted.


2.2 Circuit Structure of High Performance Electronic Ballast

The RFI and EMI filters in the figure filter out conducted RF interference and electromagnetic interference from the grid, while obstructing the conducted RF and electromagnetic interference generated by the ballast circuit from entering the grid. The bridge rectifier circuit converts the input AC to DC. The power factor correction circuit acts to improve the input AC current waveform, ensuring that the input current is sinusoidal and in phase with the input voltage, achieving a power factor close to or equal to one.


The inverter circuit completes the conversion of the DC high voltage to the high-frequency AC, and finally transmits the input power to the fluorescent tube through the lamp circuit network. In addition to transmitting electrical power, the lamp network will also perform preheating of the fluorescent filament, sampling and feedback of the lamp operating state signal. The feedback signal of the working state of the lamp is taken from the power factor correction circuit and the dimming signal, and processed by the control circuit to obtain the driving pulse of the switching device in the correct inverter circuit.


2.2.1 Power Factor Correction Circuit

The power factor of the system is defined as PF=γcosφ1


In the formula, γ=I1/IRMS, which is the ratio of the fundamental rms value of the input current to the rms value of the input total current and is also called the distortion factor of the current. φ1 is the phase shift angle of the fundamental current and voltage.


If the input voltage of the system has no phase shift (ie, the system is purely resistive) and there is no harmonic component (ie DF=1), the PF of the system must be one. Unfortunately, the input rectification filter units that most of the current devices connect with the power frequency grid are composed of uncontrolled diodes and large-capacity electrolytic capacitors. The instantaneous value of the current on the grid side is quite high (generally about 2 to 3 times that of IRMS), the duration is very short (usually no more than 4ms), and it is severely non-sinusoidal, so the PF of the system is much lower than 1.


The power factor correction is aimed at the drawbacks of the traditional uncontrolled rectifier circuit, and adopts corresponding circuit measures. While increasing the DF value of the system, the phase shift of the input fundamental current and voltage is minimized, and finally the target with the PF value equal to 1 is achieved. As a boost-type active power factor correction circuit commonly used in electronic ballasts, the control circuit uses the input voltage signal as a reference, and the product of the input current and the output voltage signal is used as a modulation source to obtain a sinusoidal pulse width modulation (SPWM) signal to the step-up DC/DC power conversion circuit to adjust the on/off time ratio of the power switch. In the end, a stable DC high voltage is obtained.


The power switching device in the step-up power conversion circuit is driven by the SPWM signal outputted by the control circuit to turn on and off at a high speed, thereby ensuring that the current waveform flowing through the inductor connected in series with the rectifier bridge is a sine wave, and is in phase with the input voltage. Thus, the distortion factors γ=1 and φ1=0 of the system input current are obtained, that is, cosφ1=1, and the system power factor is 1.


2.2.2 Inverter Circuit

The most important function of the inverter circuit is to convert the high-voltage direct current outputted by the power factor correction circuit into a high-frequency alternating current for the fluorescent lamp. The power MOSFET push-pull tubes (V1 and V2) are alternately turned on and off under the driving pulse with a duty cycle of 50%, and is commutated when the current crosses zero in the parallel resonant loop of the power transformer primary inductance and capacitance thus to realize zero voltage switching(ZVS) and perform chopping on high voltage DC. The zero-voltage switching eliminates switching losses associated with output capacitance and parasitic capacitance charging of MOSFET tube, and the gate drive charge is minimal, which helps reduce gate losses.


Since the high frequency AC obtained by the secondary coupling of the power transformer is directly fed to the lamp network, there is no phase shift between the lamp current (ie, secondary current of the power transformer) and the output current of the inverter circuit (ie, primary current of the power transformer). Considering that the total impedance of the lamp network is reduced at high frequencies, and the negative resistance characteristic of the fluorescent lamp itself, it can be found that as the lamp current decreases (corresponding to the weakening of the light intensity of the lamp), the output current of the inverter circuit will increase.


2.2.3 Lamp Circuit Network

The lamp circuit network not only needs to deliver the high-frequency AC power to the lamp tube to complete the efficient conversion of electricity and light, but it also needs to implement functions such as filament warm-up, lamp current detection feedback, and auxiliary power supply for the entire electronic ballast system.


The power transformer primary T is connected to the inverter circuit, and the lamp current is directly transmitted to the lamp through the capacitor, and the secondary winding supplies the lamp with filament current for preheating and maintaining the operation. The current transformer TA performs detection and sensing of the lamp current, and sends a signal about the operation of the lamp to the control circuit at any time by the change of the lamp current. The control circuit can judge the light intensity of the lamp according to the magnitude of the lamp current (even including the disconnection and short circuit of the lamp), and then send corresponding control signals to the inverter circuit.


2.2.4 Control Circuit

The control circuit for high-performance electronic ballasts should have a series of functions including power factor correction, lighting adjustment, light-on preheating, lamp disconnection alarm, and lamp restart program control. At present, some integrated circuit controllers for electronic ballasts appearing in the domestic and international device market are mostly based on PFC control, with appropriate addition of lamp control functions, or implementation of lamp control by external circuits. It is worth mentioning that the ML4830/31/32/33 series products can be said to be integrated controllers for high-performance electronic ballasts.


2.3 High-Performance Electronic Ballast Dedicated Integrated Controller of ML4830 Series

ML4830/31/32/33 are integrated circuit controllers developed by American Micro Linear Corporation for high-performance electronic ballasts. The first generation ML4830 has been eliminated; the second generation ML4831 is manufactured by bipolar integrated circuit technology; the third generation ML4832 uses Bicmos process to replace the original bipolar process, the circuit bias current is greatly reduced, and the consumption is greatly reduced. The fourth-generation ML4833 not only adopts the Bicmos process but also has a major improvement in the internal structure, so the function is enhanced and the performance is better. Although these devices can use the functional block diagram of figure 3, the internal structure of ML4831 and ML4832 and the internal structure of ML4833 are respectively shown in figure 4 and figure 5.

Figure 3. Functional Block Diagram of ML4831, 32, 33 

Figure 3. Functional Block Diagram of ML4831, 32, 33


Figure 4. Internal Block Diagram of ML4831, 32 

Figure 4. Internal Block Diagram of ML4831, 32


Figure 5. Internal Structure Block Diagram of ML4833 

Figure 5. Internal Structure Block Diagram of ML4833


2.3.1 Introduction to ML4831/32 Function

The ML4831/32 is composed of a continuous current type boosting power factor correction stage controlled by an average current. It has a dedicated control circuit for electronic ballasts with various ballast control links. Lamp start-up and restart timing can be achieved by using external circuit components to provide a wide range of control over different types of lamps. The ballast link uses an additional programmable method of frequency modulation and adjustment of the frequency range of the voltage-controlled oscillator to control the lamp power, so it is suitable for various types of output networks.


The gain modulator in the ML4831/32 is highly immune to interference caused by switching high-power switching devices. The output of the gain modulator appears as a reference to the current error amplifier at the inverting input of the amplifier. Isine is the current drawn from the AC input; UEA is the output of the error amplifier (pin 1). The output of the gain modulator is limited to 1V. The PWM regulator in the PFC control section compensates for the positive voltage generated by the multiplier output through the negative voltage developed across the pin 4 sense resistor. At the same time, the power MOSFET is protected against high-speed current transients by weekly current limiting. Once the voltage at pin 4 is below 1V, the PWM cycle is terminated immediately.


The overvoltage protection (OVP) terminal (pin 18) of the ML4831/32 is used to protect the power circuit from high voltage damage when the lamp is suddenly disconnected. The OVP take-off point can be set by directly tapping the voltage divider resistor to the high-voltage DC bus. As long as the voltage at pin 18 exceeds 2.75V, the power factor correction (PFC) transistor will be turned off and the ballast operation can continue.


The threshold of the OVP should be set to a value that the power device can operate safely, but is not too low to affect the operation of the boost power conversion link. The internal operational transconductance amplifier performs PFC voltage feedback, current sensing and loop amplification. The transconductance amplifier is designed with a low signal forward transconductance so that a large value resistor can be used as a load and a small (<1μF) ceramic capacitor for AC coupling in the compensation network. The compensation network can take the form of figure 6, introducing a zero point and a pole at frequencies fz and fP, respectively:





It is noted that the DC-to-ground path and the output of the transconductance amplifier may be out of tune, and the offset error voltage value reflected at the input is determined by uos=iO/gm. Capacitor C1 in figure 6 is used to block DC and minimize the adverse effects of offset.


All of the operational transconductance amplifiers in the ML4831/32 incorporate a Slew Rate enhancement to improve recovery under circuit power-up and transient response conditions because the transconductance amplifier changes from a small transconductance state to a large transconductance state. The response to large signals is essentially non-linear.

 Figure 6. Compensation Network for Transconductance Amplifier

Figure 6. Compensation Network for Transconductance Amplifier


The ML4831/32 controls the output power of the lamp by frequency modulation of the non-overlapping conduction of the power switch tube in the inverter part of the ballast circuit. That is to say, during the discharge of oscillation timing capacitor CT, the output of both ballast power tubes is low. The frequency range of the voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) in the device is controlled by the output of the LFB amplifier (pin 6). As the lamp current decreases, the voltage at pin 6 rises, causing the CT charging current to drop, thus causing the oscillation frequency of the oscillator to become lower. Because the ballast output network attenuates high frequencies, the power fed to the lamp increases accordingly. In general, the frequency of the oscillator can be calculated as follows:




Attention: A zero charge current occurs when LFBOUT (pin 6) is high level. Typically, the charge current varies with the two inputs to the oscillator:


One is the output of the warm-up timer, and the other is the output of the lamp feedback amplifier (pin 6). During the warm-up phase, the charging current is fixed at a value of Ichg (preheat) = 2.5 / Rset (3). During normal operation, the charging current varies with the voltage of pin 6 from 0 to UOH. When the voltage at pin 6 is zero, the oscillator frequency is lowest and the lamp power is maximum. The discharge current is much larger than the current flowing through the timing resistor RT. For example, when the discharge current is 5 mA, the discharge time is: 


tdis ≈ 490 × CT.


The ML4831/32 also includes a parallel regulator that limits the UCC voltage to 13.5V. When the UCC is 0.7V lower than 13.5V, the quiescent current of the device will be less than 1.7mA, and the output will be turned off, allowing the device to be started directly using the resistor attached to the rectified AC bus.


In addition, because the ML4831/32 contains a temperature sensing function, the ballast operation is stopped as soon as the junction temperature of the device exceeds 120 °C. In order to better utilize the internal sensing function without using an external sensor, the position of the ML4831/32 must be carefully determined on the ballast's circuit board to ensure that the device can properly transfer the operating temperature of the ballast. The chip temperature of ML4831/32 can usually be estimated by the following formula: 




It is worth noting that fully and reasonably using the sensing function inside the device is useful for reducing the total cost of the ballast.


The starting scheme of the device is specifically designed for the ML4831/32 in accordance with the principle of ensuring the longest lamp life and minimizing the ballast heating. Figure 7(a) contains a starting scheme including preheating of the filament and sudden breaking of the lamp. When the ballast is energized, the time that the voltage on the CX rises from 0.7V to 3.4V is called the warm-up time of the filament.


During this time, the oscillator's charging current Ichg = 2.5/Rset, the oscillator produces a very high frequency, but does not produce a voltage sufficient to start the lamp. After the filament is preheated, the frequency of the inverter circuit drops to a minimum, and a high voltage is generated to start the lamp. If the voltage of the inverter circuit does not jump when the lamp should start to work, the lamp feedback voltage entering pin 9 will rise above Uref, the CX charging current will be bypassed, and the inverter circuit will stop working until CX drops to a 1.2V threshold by RX discharge. Stopping the inverter circuit in this way can avoid the failure of the lamp to start or the inverter circuit to overheat when it is disconnected from the socket.


In general, it is better to choose a large resistance RX to make this period longer. When CX reaches the 6.8V threshold, the oscillator will turn off LFBOUT, so the lamp will be driven to full power, then dimmed, and the potential of the CX pin is clamped at approximately 7.5V. The whole process is shown in the waveform of figure 7(b).

 Figure 7. Lamp Start Preheat and Interrupt Timing Scheme and Its Waveform

Figure 7. Lamp Start Preheat and Interrupt Timing Scheme and Its Waveform


2.3.2 The Improvement of the Internal Function of ML4833

The ML4833 is a modified version of the ML4831/32. In addition to the full functionality of the ML4831/32 described above, the most prominent improvement is in the power factor correction section. The power factor correction part of the ML4833 is a step-up type PFC control circuit for peak current sensing. This form of circuit only requires voltage loop compensation, which is simpler than the ML4831/32 with average current control mode circuit. It consists of a voltage error amplifier, a current sense amplifier without compensation, an integrator, a comparator, and a logic control circuit.


In the boost type power conversion part, the correction of the power factor is performed by the current sensing resistor to output the sensing voltage and the current flowing through, and the duty ratio is adjusted by comparing the integrated voltage signal of the error amplifier with the voltage across the Rsense. The control timing of the duty ratio is as shown in figure 8. Considering that all of the high-performance electronic ballast integrated control chips of Micro-Linearity are packaged in 18-pin DIP or SOIC packages, the improvement of the device structure will inevitably bring about changes in the internal functional frame and external pin functions.

 Figure 8. PEC Link and Duty Cycle Control of ML4833

Figure 8. PEC Link and Duty Cycle Control of ML4833


2.4 High-performance Electronic Ballast Built by ML4833

Figure 9 shows the complete circuit diagram of a high-performance electronic ballast built by ML4833. The circuit is a typical AC/DC/AC structure: the RFI suppression filter circuit is added to the input terminal, the booster active power factor correction circuit is composed of AC/DC in the front stage, and the high-frequency inverter circuit is composed of DC/AC in the rear stage. A closed-loop is formed through T5, VD11, R23 and pin 8 of the control to make the system works stably.

 Figure 9. Complete Circuit Diagram of High-performance Eectronic Ballast Built with ML4833

Figure 9. Complete Circuit Diagram of High-performance Eectronic Ballast Built with ML4833




1. What is the use of electronic ballast?

An electronic ballast will convert power frequency to a very high frequency to initialize the gas discharge process in Fluorescent Lamps – by controlling the voltage across the lamp and current through the lamp.


2. What is the output voltage of an electronic ballast?

This unit operates off the AC mains with a voltage of 230 Volts and voltages generated within the unit can reach 600 to 800 Volts.


3. What is inside an electronic ballast?

Lighting ballasts generate an initial high voltage to start the arc that excites the gases in fluorescent and HID lamps and makes them shine. ... Lighting ballasts for fluorescent light bulbs and HID lamps made before 1980 may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).


4. How do you make an electronic ballast for tube light?

An electrical ballast is nothing but a simple high current, mains voltage inductor made by winding number of turns of copper wire over the laminated iron core. Basically, as we all know a fluorescent tube requires a high initial current thrust to ignite and make the electrons flow connect in between its end filaments.


5. How do you wire an electronic ballast?

Connect the ballast to the power from the breaker panel by wiring the black wire from the breaker panel to the black wire on the ballast, using a wire nut. Connect the white wire from the breaker to the white wire from the ballast.


6. What's the difference between electronic and magnetic ballast?

A magnetic ballast uses coiled wire and creates magnetic fields to transform voltage. ... An electronic ballast uses solid-state components to transform voltage. It also changes the frequency of the power from 60 HZ to 20,000 HZ or higher depending on the ballast.


7. How do you test an electronic ballast with a multimeter?

Insert one probe of the multimeter into the wire connector holding the white wires together. Touch the remaining probe to the ends of the blue, red and yellow wires leading from the ballast. Depending on the ballast, you may have only red and blue wires.


8. Are electronic ballasts non-linear loads?

Rectified input, switching power supplies and electronic lighting ballasts are the most common single-phase non-linear loads.


9. Which is not the advantage of electronic ballast?

Electronic ballasts are more efficient and more compact in size and weight. They also provide the ability for continuous power adjustment in different settings. A disadvantage is that power fluctuations may cause a failure but this can be offset by adding a buffer capacitor. The operation of the ballasts generates heat.


10. Can you repair an electronic ballast?

I eventually replaced the 2 switching transistors in this ballast as well and it worked. So the next time you have a problem with an electronic ballast from a fluorescent fitting open it and check before buying a new one. They can be expensive and more often than not they can be repaired.


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