MH Electronic Ballast Selection

It is time to upgrade my old magnetic transformer and cap MH ballasts mounted on a 2x4.
I currently have two 175 wt MH mogul-based bulbs and want to stay with that.
There are three things I am looking for in an electronic ballast:

Energy efficiency
Extended bulb life
Reliability (warranty)

Other factors, such as heat dissipation, weight, size or price, is not a top priority, although would be considered in the final selection. Or should one or more be prioritized?

One unit I have seen is the Galaxy 150 with 99.9% energy efficiency, ability to operate at 120 or 240v, and the 5-year warranty.

Another one is the Icecap MH Electronic 175w ballast that claims a 94% efficiency rating and a lower running temperature. It also is supposed to contain a microprocessor that adapts to aging bulbs.

I am finding it difficult to compare as they do not list all the specifications to compare “apples-to-apples”.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I want to do this right the first time as retrofitting a lighting system is not only the most critical, but the most expensive part of a reef tank setup.

There are plenty of choices out there. I have used coralvue ballast since I started lighting my tank with MH four yrs ago. I currently, no pun intended, have 5 MH lights on these ballasts with no problems ever.

I purchased all my ballasts from Reef Exotics and still buy all my bulbs from there also. He has a special, if you buy two or more bulbs, there is free shipping included. The owners name is Tony and he wil answer any Questions you may have and will get back to you quickly if you send him an email.
It’s funny, I was just on his website, going to order 3 new MH bulbs today.

150/175 Watt

2009 Coralvue

*UL Electronic Ballast

Energy efficient 1.46 Amps, promoting long bulb life and optimum performance.

*3 year manufacturer warranty

  Runs 150 watt De bulbs also. 


I’m no expert on MH lighting, as i just built my first dual 150W HQI MH light hood a couple months ago. I bought a couple of the HelloLights brand ARO electronic balasts and reflectors. they seem pretty good. They put out 175 watts and they run 175w mogul base bulbs like yours as well as 150w double end HQI lamps like mine. they just over drive the 150s a little. they are fairly light weight an drun cool to the touch, like maybe 100 degrees? so that means little wasted energy as heat.

Hmmm. 10% off if you buy two.

The Icecap has a great rep. and also Johns Coralvue ballasts. lots of reefers happily use them. Lots of good choices.

i’m a fan of sunlight supply, and icecap.they are comparable quality-wise and both offer good warranties.
i also prefer magnetic ballasts. you aren’t going to save a ton of money with an electronic ballast v.s. a magnetic one.
i’ve been running sls magnetic ballasts for 5 years without issue.

Marty I have the same ballasts as John (250 coralvues) and they are great. They also since there electronic can run mogules or HQI’s

     I have mogules but may do HQI on the new reflectors still not sure.

Does anyone know what is the difference in energy efficiency between magnetic and electronic ballasts?
I would think less heat dissipation means less wasted energy for one.
I also have been looking at current draw as that would definitely say how much electrical energy is being used.
Several manufacturers tout longer bulb life and/or automatic adjustment for aging bulb color deterioration. Is this technology used on all the latest EB’s or a proprietary trademark for one or two?
One thing that is very noticeable on a number of EB’s is the size. This could be a factor depending on where it is mounted.
Still in the investigative mode.


If you take the rated amp draw for a ballast, multiply it by 120 and then divide that number into the power rating for the bulb(IE, 175w, 250w, etc) you should get a pretty good ballpark for the efficiency.

Example: 250w Ballast rated for an average amp draw of 2.3amps.
2.3amps x 120volts = 276watts
250watts / 276watts = 90% Efficiency

The other 26 watts are consumed by internal electronics which is reflected in the physical heat of ballasts.
There are other factors of course but this should get you in the ballpark. An amp meter helps a lot once you have the ballasts. Ive got one i could lend you if your interested.

electronic ballast are half the weight of the magnetic ballast and operate 10 to 17 percent more efficiently, but they don’t push the lamps like magnetic ballasts do. i would say what you gain on the electric bill, you lose in the tank.

I am no MH expert at all, but spending a little extra for a little better ballast may be a mute point if your reflectors are really crappy. I completly forget what you reflectors were or what condition they were in when I came by last.

FWIW I like the company ice cap for there ballast for T5s and use 3-4 of there ballast to run my T5s.

yes, johns right with reflectors. reflectors are the most cost effective way to increase ur light output. do a search about sanjay joshi. he has some great MH research. as far as ballast go, you cant go wrong with any reputable company, ie icecap, coralvue, lumatek, sunlight supply. magnetic ballasts may run more wattage, but they put more light out of the bulb. i personally prefer magnetic ballasts.

I have a couple of those spider reflectors, although they are not installed yet. Currently, the ones I am using are DIY, highly polished stainless steel sheet with two bends, which are in very good shape still.

Appears I may go with the Coravue ballast. For the price, it sounds like it should do fine for me. Plus the 30% off coupon also helps.

I have a coralvue now(its actually for sale but WAY to much for your needs ;D).

Its the 400w dimmable and although i havent had it long, it seems to be a VERY nice ballast. Runs very cool, no starting issues, no noise, and overall solid construction. If the one your looking at comes with a dimmable option i HIGHLY recommend it. It was only a $10 upgrade in my case.