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DIMMER CIRCUITS #44736 11/10/04 04:38 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 107
james S Offline OP
Has anyone ever worked with fluorescent light fittings(less than 100w lamps, two lamps in each fitting)that are dimmed via a 10v dc control to the ballast with a 230v mains supply to power the fitting?

What i would like to know is how do these special ballasts work, what is the dimming process?
ps never came across such fittings before.

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Re: DIMMER CIRCUITS #44737 11/10/04 05:17 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 48
marcspages Offline

Just confirm there are two ballasts (one per lamp) but the 10V is taken through both? (or are you unsure of the number of ballasts?


Re: DIMMER CIRCUITS #44738 11/10/04 05:53 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 107
james S Offline OP
i think there is only one ballast for what i can see, if it helps each lamp can work independently they are not in any series circuit set up, what makes it that bit intresting is that the particular light i have access to is an emergency fitting.

Re: DIMMER CIRCUITS #44739 11/11/04 04:53 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 48
marcspages Offline

This is going to be complete conjecture on my part - especially as this may be a new, fandangled ballast with DMX control or the like - but if it's old, then the following may just be the trick (you did not say whether the dimming was achieved with a 0-10VDC, or the 10V was modulated in some other way).

The principle applied is called a "magenetic amplifier". It was used extensively in 3-phase voltage regulation systems (for professional VCRs etc.) where the natural tendency of 3-phase is to cancel out.

[Linked Image from]

But the same can be very successfully done with single phase. You need two identical transformers at least about twice the rating of the load. The primaries are wired in series, and this then in series with the load (see pic below - hope the link works!).

[Linked Image from]

The secondaries, however, are wired 'back-to-back' so as to CANCEL each other out. If a DC current is injected (with the aid of a voltage, of course - note, you're only working against the DC resistance of the two secondaries in series), the primaries become a lower impedance. The more the current, the lower the impedance.

You can try this at home if you wish, it is perfectly safe (well, should be as all of you play with at least mains on a daily basis! so simply carry on respecting the mains as you always do and it won't bite!). I like to go down in voltage on the secondary (say about 50V), but not too far (else the controlling current goes up).

Now, putting this in to principle with the dimmable tubes.

It may just be possible the fittings are adjusting the arc current in the fluoro tube with the same principle? There is likely to be a "max" you can reach where the core becomes saturated thus controlling the maximum arc current (else you destroy the tube), but it might just be possible to get a reasonable brightness range out of the tube. Hmm, you've got me thinking! I must dig through my scrap and see what I can find and see how much I can change the brilliance.


[This message has been edited by marcspages (edited 11-11-2004).]


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