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[APD] Re: Electronic ballasts
I'm coming out of lurking mode to ask a question about Magnetek Triad
Electronic ballasts. I am thinking of retrofitting my AGA twin tube strip
light -36 inch T-8- to a triple tube electronic fixture. The ballast
recommended by my companies supplier is: B332I120RH for $22.00. This
ballast will run three F25T8 lamps. Voltage 120. Line current 0.60 Amps.
Input Power 68 watts. Power Factor >.95. Ballast Factor 0.92. Ballast
Efficiency Factor 1.35. THD <20%. Min. Start Temp 0 F. 9.5 inch long, 2.40
inch wide, 1.55 inch high.
Seems about right. Power factor > 0.95 is really good, BTW... Power factor
is basically a measure of how "nice" a piece of equipment is in the way it
presents its load to the electric utility.
The question is: how does this compare with ballasts available in LFS that
cost in the range of $50 to $80? I don't want to mention any brand names.
Am I really getting something worthwhile by buying one sold for the Marine
hobby compared to this Magnetek Triad ballast?
First, I doubt you'll find any aquarium specialty lighting manufacturers
specifying their equipment to the degree that Magnetek ballast is. Also, in
the *vast majority* of specialty lights, you'll find a standard ballast
inside the specialty fixtures. I know for a fact that a certain big
manufacturer of aquarium-specific MH lights uses Advance ballasts for
example. Usually the difference is that the store-bought light fixture will
have an enclosure and will be pre-wired where if you buy the ballast
separately you'll have to wire it yourself in an enclosure you'll have to
provide. It is often cheaper to build your own lighting setup (hence the
amount of DIY info on the list :-), especially if your setup is going to be
large or unusual.
If you have the time and the skill, you can save some money building your
own fixture, although if you can get a suitable fixture for $50 it might be
hard to beat using DIY. Remember that in addition to the ballast you'll
need an enclosure -- which will be at least about $10 -- plus possibly
shipping costs. You'll also need wire, connectors, etc. Ultimately it is
your call to make. IMHO, building has usually been cheaper for me since I
tend to build large or unusual setups, and I have a lot of electrical parts
already on hand. Also, with DIY you can make your light do *exactly* what
you want in terms of function.
The next question is: will Triton T8 lamps light up and work properly with
an electronic ballast? I am currently using them on the AGA which has
magnetic ballasts and starters.
I haven't tried it myself, but I'd be surprised if the electronic ballast
couldn't light the Triton lamp. My understanding is that the electronic
fluorescent ballasts are pretty well developed, and it is the MH electronic
ballasts that can be fussy about the bulbs they'll work with.
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