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Re: Icecap Flourescent ballasts

Robert wrote:
>I was surfing the WEB this morning and was looking thru Icecaps WEB site,
>and came across a reprinted FAMA article that suggests NO bulbs running on
>an Icecap ballast give off the same amount of brightness as a VHO bulb! Is
>there any truth to this? It doesnt seem to make much sense to me, and I was
>wondering if any of the light gurus here could pick this apart? See
     There is some truth to this.   I have been using the Icecap 660 for the 
past 1.5 years to drive 48", T12, NO lamps, and the lamps seem to take the 
abuse fairly well.  Are they as bright as a 48" VHO lamp?  No way.  But they 
are much brighter than usual.  Would be nice to have a lux meter to find out 
just how much brighter.  I have spoken with Andy Howard (president of Icecap) 
about this very claim, and was told that a 48" NO lamp is driven at ~ 80 - 90 
watts instead of the usual 40.  The lamps
do of course run hotter than usual, which I'm sure decreases efficiency 
somewhat.  (Their claim of greater efficiency applies only when it is used 
with VHO lamps)  I do like the fact that I can also use up to four 96 watt 
PC's with my Icecap, and mix them with my favorite T12 or T8 lamps.  Icecap 
claims that their 660 ballast can be used  to drive almost any length/wattage 
of lamp, from 18" to 96".  This isn't entirely true, at least not in my 
experience.  I have used 24" and 48" lamps with my Icecap 660. The ballast 
works well with 48" lamps: NO, HO, or VHO, but not with 24" NO. 
Many of my  24", NO lamps would only last a max of 3 - 4 months, developed 
black spots near the ends of the lamp, and both filaments burn open as the
lamp draws it's last breath.   
I have used the following 24", T12, 20w lamps with an Icecap 660:  
Durotest Vita Light, Sylvania Gro lux, Coralife Spectramax, GE C50, and 
Philips Daylight.  Interestingly, the Vita Light and the Philips lamps never 
failed, and I still use them on other tanks, but with standard ballasts.  I 
think Icecap should revise it's claims a bit, based on my experience with 24" 
NO lamps.  If you want to use 24" 
lamps with an Icecap ballast, use VHO (75 watt) instead.