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Re: Lights and Ballast

Shane asked:

> I'm looking at the possibility of buying a ballast, lights etc. and
> hooking these up myself.  How much Do it yourself work is involved? 

Certainly nothing you can't handle. If I can do it, anyone can. 

> basic questions I have:  When you buy a ballast do you always get endcaps?
>  How about if you buy a ballast at a commercial lighting center, do they
> give you endcaps?  How do you know what endcaps go with what bulbs?  How
> much wiring is needed?  

No, endcaps are sold separately from ballasts. You choose 
endcaps by the diameter of the bulb - generally t8 (1") or t12 (1.5"). 
So you have to know which size bulb you will be using. t8 bulbs 
will fit in t12 endcaps but they will not be water resistant because 
of the loose fit. Endcaps come with the wiring required to hook up 
to ballasts. The ballast may need a power cord and plug, which is 
a cheap purchase at the hardware or electrical supply store. I have 
never bought endcaps anywhere except through aquarium supply 
stores - don't know if water-resistant endcaps are sold elsewhere.

> Is there an explanation on how to do this on some website that explains
> everything.  Writing this I'm thinking I may be in over my head but I want
> to learn and know how to do this for future tanks. 

I don't know of any website which explains this, although no doubt 
it's out there. Every ballast has a wiring diagram on its top surface. 
You just follow the diagram. If you aren't sure how to read the 
diagram, I'm sure the salesperson at the electrical supply place 
can clue you in. But truthfully I don't think you'll have trouble. 

You do need to match the ballast to the number and size of bulbs 
you'll be lighting. You can check the Advance Transformer website 
where they have a nifty program for finding the right ballast, or you 
can have the salesperson check his catalog. 

Again, if I can do this, you certainly can. Give it a shot, add 
another skill to your repertoire.

Cathy Hartland
Middletown, MD