I am working on a project that will implement automatic power factor correction for inductive loads. I would like to use the ballast from a fluorescent lamp as my test load for this project. Is it possible to connect such a ballast directly across the AC line, or do I need to use a resistor to limit the current?
It should be possible to use a lamp ballast as a test load, but you should test it to be sure. Measure the current with and without series resistance, making sure that the current doesn't rise to unreasonable values at full voltage, perhaps due to saturation of the core.
A simpler idea would be to use the primary of any small-to-medium size power transformer as your test load. If you leave the secondary disconnected, the primary will function essentially as a pure inductance.