Fluorescent Lamp Ballasts


Fluorescent lamp ballasts are used to start and operate fluorescent lamps by providing the high voltage required to start the lamps and then limiting the current to a safe level. Fluorescent ballasts are also distinguished by their starting method: instant start (IS), rapid start (RS), and programmed start (PS).


The current standards for fluorescent lamp ballasts took effect in 2014. The standards apply to ballasts that operate different types of 2-, 4-, and 8-foot fluorescent lamps. The standards, expressed as minimum ballast luminous efficiency (BLE) levels, range between 0.841 and 0.918, depending on the product class.

In 2020, DOE issued a final determination not to amend standards for fluorescent lamp ballasts. DOE initiated a rulemaking in 2023 to consider amended standards for fluorescent lamp ballasts.

*The energy efficiency metric is BLE, which is the total fluorescent lamp arc power divided by the ballast input power (unitless).


IS ballasts are inherently more efficient than RS and PS ballasts because they rely on a very high initial voltage to initiate the arc rather than electrode heating. However, IS ballasts can result in a significant reduction in lamp lifetime if they are used with occupancy sensors and are frequently switched on and off. PS ballasts, which are advanced versions of RS ballasts, can significantly increase lamp lifetime in occupancy sensor applications.

In commercial and industrial buildings, the most common fixture in the market is four feet long. Technology options for improving the efficiency of fluorescent lamp ballasts include improved components (transistors, diodes, and capacitors) and improved circuit design.

Savings through what year?: 2043
Energy saved (quads): 2.7 to 5.6
CO2 savings (million metric tons): 27 to 106
Net present value savings ($billion) 3% discount rate: 21.63
Net present value savings ($billion) 7% discount rate: 6.7


Federal Date States
Potential Effective Date of Updated Standard 2022
Updated DOE Standard Due 2019
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Active Mode 2015
3rd Federal Standard Effective 2014
3rd Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 2011
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Active Mode 2011
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Standby/Off Mode 2009
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Standby/Off Mode 2009
2nd Federal Standard Effective 2005
2nd Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 2000
1st Federal Standard Effective 1990
1st Federal Standard Adopted (Congress) 1988
NAECA 1988 Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 1988

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.