HID Lighting Ballast: The Ultimate Guide


Are you unfamiliar with an HID Lighting ballast and its capabilities? Then you’ve come to the right place! This in-depth article promises to teach you about the different types of HID ballasts, how they work, how to test and repair them, and much more!

It can be overwhelming when attempting to grasp all the information on this subject. We, at WellPCB, have got you covered! Continue reading to learn more about HID ballasts and how they can benefit you in the long run.

What is an HID Lighting Ballast?

HID Lighting Ballast

An HID lighting ballast is a device that sends voltage to light up a fluorescent lamp. It also regulates the light’s current as soon as the lamp is active.

However, problems can arise without a ballast. For example, the lamp could pull in excessive power, overheat, and ultimately burn out rather quickly. Not only does a ballast allow the lamp to function efficiently, but it also provides longevity.

Functions of an HID Lighting Ballast

Overall, there are two primary functions of an HID lighting ballast:

  • Quick start-up: A ballast quickly turns on a lamp and supplies it with greater voltage, causing an arc to form between two electrodes. This causes the HID bulbs to illuminate.
  • Maintains performance: Additionally, a ballast maintains the lamp’s performance by keeping it stable and operable. The ballast lessens the voltage once the arc forms while regulating the current. This means the light is stable and balanced. It also won’t experience flickering or fading.

Types of HID Lighting Ballast

There are three different types of HID ballasts: digital, electronic, and magnetic.

Digital ballast

Not only are digital ballasts smaller, but they’re lightweight. This means it doesn’t take up much space as the other types of ballasts. These are pretty simple to operate. Along with that, the brightness and color constancy isn’t difficult to control. Digital ballasts, which consume very little energy, are extremely efficient because they generate a lot of light. It also has temperature control integrated into the HID bulb, allowing the temperature to stay the same, which prevents it from overheating. This allows the bulb to last a lot longer. Digital ballasts also provide a boost in power regulation.

Electronic ballast

Electronic ballast

As the name suggests, an electronic ballast uses a circuit to help regulate power in a bulb. Built-in safety features provide better control and protection against short-circuit, over/under-voltage, and flashing light.

Magnetic ballast

Magnetic ballast

Lastly, the magnetic ballast contains internal components that operate alongside a capacitor to regulate the current’s flow. Some magnetic ballasts also have an igniter, which works with sodium lamps and metal halide lamps.

How Do HID Ballasts Work?

An HID lamp produces light when an arc forms between two electrodes inside an arc tube. Gas inside this tube causes the arc to ignite. The arc’s heat forces the metal salts to melt, creating plasma. As a result, the light becomes intensified.  The HID ballast creates a charge that stimulates the gases inside the bulb. Those gases then pass through the electrodes. The gases expel photons to produce light. Additionally, the ballast provides power, which keeps the gases simulated to turn on the bulb.

Benefits of an HID Ballast

Energy Efficient – HID Ballasts can consume up to 25% less energy compared to conventional ballasts.

Longer life – These typically last longer than traditional ballasts.

Versatile – Due to the smaller size and decreased costs, HID ballasts have different applications. That’s because manufacturers are creating ballasts that handle higher voltages.

HID Lighting Ballast Applications

HID ballasts provide power to your car’s headlights, allowing you to have a clear line of sight during the nighttime.  Additionally, they have applications in large-scale lighting installations such as grocery store lights, street lights, and fluorescent home lights. You can find these below or behind the lighting installation.

How to test HID Ballast

Below, we discuss different methods you can use to test and repair your HID ballast.

How do I know if my HID ballast is bad?

There are certain steps you can follow to determine if your HID ballast is bad. First, check the connections. If everything connects and the lights aren’t working, then it might be a polarity issue. Make sure the negative plugs to the negative and positive to the positive. Reversed polarities mean the lights won’t work. That’s because it prevents power from flowing.Lastly, you can connect a multimeter to the ballast. If there is no voltage or current reading, then it means the ballast is dead.   

How do You Dix an HID Ballast?

How do you fix an HID ballast?

Repairing an HID ballast is straightforward. Use a multimeter to check the HID ballasts’ voltage and amps. An overloaded ballast has a high voltage and amperage reading. To perform repairs, readjust the voltage and amperage to the correct level. You can also replace the light so that it meets the ballast specifications.

The ballast’s wiring might not be getting sufficient power or good ground. If this happens, adjust the wiring. A ballast repair kit will guide you through the repair or replacement process.

Check the solenoids. Change them if they have corrosion.

HID ballasts could have a loose connection. If this is the case, solder the connections together.

Lastly, if the above steps don’t work, purchase a new HID ballast system. Take notes on the failed ballast system’s specifications. Doing so ensures it fits properly, resulting in a successful installation.

How to Choose the Best HID Ballasts?

There are a few factors you should pay attention to when shopping for an HID ballast. First, you need to determine if you want a 35W, 55W, or 70W ballast. 70W is brighter but produces more heat that could damage the headlight.

You might need a Canbus compatible ballast for a new car. Problems could arise if you install an HID kit that’s not Canbus compatible.

AC ballasts last longer and are brighter than DC types. It’s best to purchase an HID AC ballast for those reasons, even though they’re more costly.

HID Ballast Recommendations:

Here are 5 of the recommended HID ballasts:

Xenon HID 12V 35W Ballast

You can’t go wrong with the Xenon HID 12V 35W Ballast because it’s an economically feasible option. Not only does it consume less power with brighter lights, but the easy-to-install process makes it a must-have despite the large size. 

COROTC Xenon HID Ballast

Rated at 35W, the COROTC Xenon HID Ballast is pretty powerful, producing extremely bright light. The slim unit is perfect for any car because it’s waterproof, heat-resistant, and has voltage regulators.

Xentec Slim HID Ballast

We recommend the Xentec Slim HID Ballast because it produces a bright light despite its small size. It’s also waterproof and compatible with most bulbs.

Innovited 35W 12V HID Ballast

The Innovited 35W 12V HID Ballast is compatible with various bulbs, making it an excellent choice to consider. It also withstands extreme temperatures and can last for 5,000 hours.

DZG HID Headlight Ballast

Perfect for any vehicle, the DZG HID Headlight Ballast has a solid aluminum casing, which protects against vibration, harsh temperature, and electronic issues. It’s also capable of automatic shut-down, monitoring/controlling voltage levels while providing a very bright output.


How many watts does a ballast for hid lighting put out?

A high-quality HID ballast can put out 38W of power.          

Can I use any ballast with any HID bulb?

Any ballast works with any HID bulb. The connectors must match.

Do HID lights need a ballast?

Yes. If a bulb doesn’t use a ballast, it will burn out quickly.

How long do HID ballasts last?

Some survive for 3-5 years. If they’re well-maintained, ballasts typically last for up to 20 years.

Can you use a 55W HID bulb with a 35W ballast?

Yes, but it’s unsafe and inefficient. Additionally, HID bulbs only run on 35W of power, which means that it goes into overdrive if the wattage increases.  


HID ballasts are great devices. Not only are they bright, but they’re long-lasting and energy-efficient. This can be advantageous if you’re taking a long road trip or want to upgrade your old headlights. The bright light makes it very safe to use in the nighttime since other drivers can see you from a long distance. Additionally, you can test and replace an HID ballast at the comfort of your own home! Please contact us if you have any questions about HID ballasts.

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