In a fluorescent lighting system, the ballast regulates the current to the lamps and provides sufficient voltage to start the lamps. Without a ballast to limit its current, a fluorescent lamp connected directly to a high voltage power source would rapidly and uncontrollably increase its current draw. Within a second the lamp would overheat and burn out. During lamp starting, the ballast must briefly supply high voltage to establish an arc between the two lamp electrods. Once the arc is established, the ballast quickly reduces the voltage and regulates the electric current to produce a steady light output.