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Re: Wooden canopy to be built (if I'm lucky)


> Do any of you use acrylic or plexiglass as opposed to glass (or nothing at
> all) to shield the fixtures from the water?

I don't use anything on either my plant tank or my reef tank.  The first
uses 5' VHO flourescents with German waterproof endcaps, and the second uses
two 96w PCs from AH Supply.  Haven't had any problems with either, and, as
long as you're careful about routing the wiring and using wiring retainers,
so that you don't have any significant risk of dipping the wiring in the
aquarium you should be fine.

> Are there any hard and fast rules on what wood to use or not use? A local
> lumberyard suggested I use basswood, as they claim it's lighter even than
> pine. I've never even heard of it.

I've made canopies from pine, oak, and maple, and I far prefer pine.  With a
good coat of sealant you should get a good life out of it, it looks good,
and is by far the easiest of the three to work with..

> Also, are there any taboos on finishing type products (shellac,
> polyurethanes, stains, etc.) that should not be used?

Don't know of any taboos.  I use gloss white oil based enamel on the inside
and spar polyurethane on the outside.  Seems to work well.

> Any general tips, shortcuts, errors to be avoided, etc. would be
> as well.

I really like the little plastic things you can buy at hardware stores to
connect corners together.  Makes it possible to disassemble the hood if you
need to.

> The guy in charge of HS&E in the house doesn't want a wooden canopy. After
> noticing an indentation in an Perfecto strip which was apparently created
> overheating by another strip placed temporarily on top, and after seeing
> metal construction of some manufacturers of pfc's (Custom Sea Life, JBL),
> he's convinced it will be a fire hazard to use wood. He points out that a
> should be used for cooling purposes, since some manufacturers do use them
> these light strips. This opens possibility for more potential hazard,
> the fan could fail. Since pre-made strips are UL approved, he feels the
> retrofit kits pose a hazard. As a compromise, he's thinking a metal
> would be a better choice. (And I thought wood would be tough to work
> Since I've been reading the list, I don't think I've read one report of a
> fire, or any other tragedy relating to these retrofit kits. Anybody have
> comments?

His fears are far overrated.  Wood canopies have been in use for pretty much
forever, and I have yet to hear a horror story.  I'd be more worried about
fault in the wiring shorting out on a metal hood an causing a fire that way.
Either way, a GFCI should add an additional measure of safety.  If you're
using T12 flourescents, use the German endcaps available through Champion
Lighting.  They are UL listed, and very, very good.  That should ease your
guy's troubled mind.  Fans are only needed if you're using lighting of high
output.  I don't have any on my VHOs, but will be installing some in the
hood to cool my PCs on my reef tank, but only because I'm having problems
with them heating the water in the tank.  Even then its only a few degrees,
but thats in the November of a Colorado winter.  As for the retrofit kits,
if there were significant problems with them, the companies would have been
sued out of existence a long time ago.

Justin Collins
In sunny Littleton, Colorado, where the mercury dosen't seem to like getting
above freezing very much.