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Thread: Burning smell from MH/HPS magnetic ballast

  1. #1

    Default Burning smell from MH/HPS magnetic ballast

    This is regarding a ValuLine 400w Switchable Ballast.

    A while ago one of my children flipped the switch on my ballast from MH to HPS while it was running and while I had a MH bulb in. When I found it (hours later) it was buzzing loudly, but otherwise the MH light was on. I was staring blooming on my plants so I put in a HPS bulb and went on with life. it is now about a month later and I put the MH bulb back in and turned on the ballast. It buzzed loudly and the light went bright then dim a couple times but eventually stayed on. The loud buzzing stopped after 30 seconds. However, when I got home later that day the ballast had a burning smell coming from it. I openned the case but have no idea what I should be looking for. The place inside that smells inside is the "ballast core". At least that is what the label says it is. Also, it doesn't buzz loudly when the HPS bulb is in.

    Here are my questions:
    1. Can that piece be replaced if indeed it is broken or do I have to invest in a new ballast? It is only 1 yr old.
    2. Has anyone had a similar problem?
    3. Are their diagrams where I can see exactly what the piece is called? It looks like a big metal brick with coils coming out of it.

    Any help would be great!
    Last edited by grandwheatgrass; 01-16-2012 at 10:18 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    The big metal brick is the core and coil, this is what converts electricity into a usable form. The second component in a ballast is the capacitor which maintains power. Usually when a ballast fails to fire entirely, its from a bad capacitor. In HPS ballasts (or with the HPS switched on), you also have an ignitor. This sends a high voltage pulse get HPS lamps started.

    If an MH bulb was operating in an HPS ballast, it may have received that starting pulse from the ignitor and possibly damaged the lamp. The ballast may be having trouble firing the damaged lamp and is buzzing/burning as a result.

    Before swapping out ballast internals, I would try a new MH lamp. Both the capacitors and ignitors are easily replaceable for about $30, but once the core has gone bad, its just better to get a new ballast. New cores are almost as much as the cost of a complete ballast.

    Here is what a cap and ignitor usually look like

    Here is R&M's tech support as well
    [email protected]
    (866) 476-9768

    Good Luck!

  3. #3
    Shapsemem Guest

    Default Burning smell from MH/HPS magnetic ballast

    So i just swapped the ballasts again, and the working light moved from the passenger side to drivers side, so i would assume that i have a problem with the ballast again. I am just not sure if i got a bad used ballast, or if i have some other underlying problem. The working side does not seem to be at full brightness, and kind of flickered when coming on after i switched them. Any help?

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