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Compact Fluorescent Lamp Driver

Operates from a 12V DC supply and can drive up to four 9W CFLs at full brightness. Use it as part of a solar power installation or anywhere you require good lighting without mains power.

By John Clarke

Obtaining good lighting from battery power has never been easy unless fluorescent lamps are used. This is because fluorescent lamps produce far more light output than incandescent lamps for a given power input.

In practice, this means that you can burn your lights for longer before the battery goes flat – up to five or six times longer, in fact!

This "Compact Fluorescent Driver" is built into a sturdy metal case and is specifically designed to drive CFLs. It delivers a 240V (340V peak) waveform that’s approximately sinusoidal in shape, which means that it’s capable of driving CFLs with a high power factor, as well as earlier designs with low power factor.

Note that, in general, this circuit is not designed to power other mains-operated equipment.


The output voltage produced by this CFL Driver circuit is potentially lethal! Do not build it unless you are experienced and know what you are doing.

In particular, make sure that you do not touch the output leads and check that they are securely connected to an approved mains lighting socket in a fixed installation before connecting 12V DC power. Treat these wires as though they are at mains potential.

Finally, be sure to keep your hands away from the PC board components associated with the output terminals, diodes D7-D10 and the 470kΩ and 1MΩ resistors in the feedback path.

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