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The introduction of new energy-saving lamps and ballasts for fluorescent lighting has focused attention on the electrical and performance characteristics of the lamp/ballast/luminaire system. To obtain optimum efficiency the lighting designer must now consider not only catalog and nameplate ratings, but also hard-to-obtain thermal and field factors which can substantially affect energy input and light output values. A discussion of these factors is presented along with practical design information for a number of lamp/ballast combinations are used in a variety of standard luminaires. Also included is the expected impact on system energy use and economics.