Self ballasted mercury vapor lamps for Garage lighting ?


Flashlight Enthusiast
Apr 12, 2003
Chino Hills, CA
My friend, Cory, called me up earlier today and asked me if I knew where to purchase some self ballasted mercury vapor lamps. He's planning to used them for lighting up his garage and later for a hydroponics setup he is planning to build.

I knew of one off the top of my head which was made as a grow light the for hydroponics market (The AgroSun Power Gro) which is a 150 watt reflector style but he also some increased garage lighting.

Currently for the garage, there's a bare bulb coming out of the wall and a 4 foot shop light next to the garage door opener above the middle of the garage on one switch. The other switch goes to a fluorescent troffer over the workbench at the front of the garage but the ballast in that light is bad so it doesn't work. He currently has a smaller fluorescent shop light and a clamp lamp for his workbench area which have to be plugged into an outlet to operate. We're thinking of taking out the non-working troffer and using that circuit to power bare sockets with self ballasted mercury vapor bulbs in them.

Any ideas of how we should light the garage ?

(you can catch a glimpse of the inside of his garage in these videos)
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Nov 23, 2007
Somerset UK
A lot depends on the intended hours of operation.
If the lighting is required for many hours a week, then the running costs/energy useage should be considered. Self ballasted mercury lamps have a relativly low efficiency (not that much better than incandescent) and would be a poor choice if regular use is expected.

Flourescent lighting, or metal halide has a much better efficiency and is probably a better choice for long hour use, as for a regularly used workshop, or for hydroponics.
The orange/yellow light of high pressure sodium lamps is very efficient, and often recomended for hydroponics, but is less satisfactory to work by.

If however the lighting is only used for a few dozen hours a year, then running costs are relativly un-important, and self ballasted mercury lamps, or incandescent lamps could be used.
It has been proposed to ban the sale of mercury lamps (self ballasted or otherwise) in the USA, due to the relativly low efficiency, therefore consider also the future availability of lamps.


Dec 25, 2003
Self ballasted mercury lamps are pretty much just a curiosity now. Even in their 'heyday', their main feature was really, really long life; which doesn't seem like much of a plus in your application. They are not much more efficient than plain old incandescent, have poor color rendering, and take a few minutes to warm up.

4-foot, T8 fluorescent lamps preferably in fixtures with name-brand electronic ballasts, are hard to beat; especially in areas where the ambient doesn't get too cold.