Commercially available one- and two-lamp fluorescent luminaires were tested, and a number of electrical parameters were measured using varying combinations of lamps and either iron-core or electronic ballasts. Comprehensive photometric tests and thermal measurements were also conducted. The test results were tabulated and compared. The performance of the iron-core ballasts was found to be sufficiently close to nominally rated values to not raise concerns. Results from testing the electronic ballasts showed that the user has to be careful when selecting these ballasts, as they far exceed standard specification limits for current and voltage crest factors. All other electrical, photometric and thermal parameters are within accepted levels. An economic analysis was undertaken to determine cost benefits and payback periods for using electronic ballasts, the use of which will result in higher efficiency and lower power consumption. A project life of 20 years was assumed, and analysis was run for a power cost of $0.04/kWh. A unit made by Fyrnetics showed the lowest total annual owning and operating costs and had a payback period of 12.1 years. 13 figs., 13 tabs.