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Re: Lights and Ballast

Shane wrote:

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?  Some 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?

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.

This is going on a 75 gallon tank.  I'm not sure of much else yet I'm just
planning what it would take to do my own lighting.  It will be medium to
high light though. Probably 4 flourescent lights.

I reply:

Doing it yourself is a posibility. To keep it economical you pretty much
have to go to commercial electrical supplier for the ballasts. There are a
lot different things that you can do but if it were me I would buy 2, 2 lamp
cheap shop light fixtures from Home Depot. I would change the ballast in
each fixture to a Motorola 1.28 ballast factor ballast. I would use Philips
850 or 950 T8 lamps or I would line the reflectors with aluminized mylar.
The fixtures can then be set on top of the glass cover for your tank or you
can mount them inside a custom made hood. The hood is the hard part. This
lighting setup is about the equivilent of about 3 55 watt PCs. The total
cost of the light fixtures with the replaced ballasts and 850 lamps is about
$100. The custom hood can vary in price a lot. The cheapest is probably a
frame of 1 x 6 pine boards with a plywood top and molding around the edge of
the top. With the cost of painting and hinges and cutting that is going to
be around $50. The painted finish probably won't last on the inside and you
will have to redo it periodically.

Another way to go is to buy a pair of Hamilton pendant MH lamps and forgo
the hood altogether.

Another way is to use AH Supplies stuff. You would need say 4 40 watt PCs
and two two lamp DIY enclosures. This would be just slightly less light than
the 4 T8s but the superior reflector probably makes up for this.

I am just trying to give you a rough idea of what it would cost. There are
other methods and if you want more details just Email me. If you price out
the cost of these 3 setups I think you will find that there is not a whole
lot of savings to be had going the DIY route. The main difference is in the
cost of the lamps. T8 850s are very cheap compared to MHs and PCs.