As a do-it-yourselfer, I frequently have trouble with wiring the lighting. My goal is to make my light as bright as it possibly can be, but doing so typically causes it to generate a lot of heat and can even put the wiring in danger.
I am writing this how-to to assist other do-it-yourselfers in wiring their lights in a manner that is both secure and effective.
I will be using an HPS lamp because that particular type of MH or HPS ballast is the most common. The fundamentals are the same for an LED lamp; however, verification should be done with the documentation provided by the manufacturer. First, some general information about the material you will be working with is as follows:
First, some general information about the material you will be working with is as follows:
One power lead (a hot lead), one neutral lead (white), one ground lead (green or bare wire), and one control lead are all that are needed for a single lamp ballast.
A four-lamp ballast has two power leads, one for each side of the 120V circuit. Additionally, it has two neutrals, two grounds, and four control leads.
In homes across the United States, the circuit breakers direct the flow of electricity to a junction box located within the main electrical panel. This is the location in your home where the electrical wiring for your lights is brought into the house. In a specialized light fixture known as a junction box, the lamp ballast is installed in such a way that it is directly positioned above the wiring junction.
In Europe, electrical current first enters the building through a wall socket and is then carried along a conduit to the lighting junction.
There are three distinct categories of tools that I will be discussing.
The lamp ballast is the first piece of equipment.
It is a device that controls the voltage that is supplied to your lamps, regulates the current that is output to your lamps in terms of amps, and ensures that the polarity is maintained correctly.
The lamp itself is the second component of this apparatus.
Its function is to generate light for the fixture that you have. Magnetic metal halide (MH), high-pressure sodium (HPS), and double-ended metal halide (DE) are the most common types.
There are also linear fluorescent lamps, but I will not be talking about them in this article, with the exception of the following note: In order to power fluorescent tubes in a manner that is not hazardous, specialized ballasts or electronic drivers are required. It would be to your advantage to always use these fixtures in the manner that the manufacturer intended for them. It is dangerous to try to wire one of these into a HID ballast because it could start a fire.
The reflector is the third component of the system.
This is what guides and concentrates the light from your lamps so that it can be used in your garden. The more reflective you are, the better it will be for your growth. Mylar, which has been coated with a thin layer of aluminum, is a good example of a reflector. Polished aluminum and aluminized mylar are two other good examples. Other options, such as painting the wall white, will do, but they leave a lot to be desired.
If the sheet metal shop is of low quality, they might even sell you something called “white finished” or whatever the name of their cheapest-looking finish is; these WILL NOT work for growing plants.
You can use regular household wiring devices like switches and outlets, but you should keep in mind the following safety precautions before doing so:
Use a GFCI.
You do not require the GFCI if the HID is housed in its very own separate junction box that can accommodate four lamps. However, you are required to make use of the GFCI if either your primary electrical panel or your single-light junction box contains a standard lighting fixture.
The neutral wire that comes from the ballast needs to be connected at all times to either the neutral wire of the incoming house power or the white wire that comes from the secondary incoming lines (the ones that go from one switch to another).
For the sake of convenience and potential expansion, you should always install one or two outlets on each of your switches. In addition to that, check to see that it is a duplex outlet that is grounded. Then you would have one for turning on and off with a push-button switch, and the other for plugging in any fans or reflectors that you might need.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
If the voltage of your ballast is only 120V, you should wire it the same way as described above, but instead of using two lamp wires, you should use one power (hot) wire and one neutral (white). These two lines will be distributed among the device’s four lamps in an equal manner. Sometimes, this kind of ballast will have a switch on it that allows it to run two or all four lamps at the same time. You can also use this kind of ballast to wire up three regular household lights rather than four HIDs if you want to save money. Just keep in mind that it was not designed for that function if you do not currently require the ability to cultivate anything.
– An internal grounding screw is included with certain higher wattage ballasts (300W and above). Although this can be used to fasten the ballast to the metal junction box, you should not rely on it as your only method of grounding. Instead, you should use something else. Instead, regardless of how well you believe your ballast is grounded, you should always run a ground wire directly to the house’s main electrical panel or a single lighting junction box.
Moisture should ALWAYS be kept away from anything electrical.
If you are going to add more lamps to it than it was intended for (for example, by using two separate four-lamp ballasts instead of a single eight-lamp ballast), then you need to make sure that there is adequate ventilation and that all of the other wiring is the same size. If not, you run the risk of starting a fire.
The subject of dimming HID lights is not addressed in this article. On the other hand, if it is not done correctly, it could end up damaging your ballast. It is possible that in some instances, it could result in electrocution or a fire.
It is ultimately up to you to decide whether or not you want to wire something yourself. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on hiring an electrician who might or might not do a good job and will probably be more expensive than the equipment itself, I tell people that if they want their ballasts in a permanent location, they should spend a few hours wiring them themselves. You at least have some idea of what you will be getting into before you go out and do things your way.