To: Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com
Subject: Light "Pipes"
From: cbay at jeppesen_com (Charlie Bay)
Date: Mon, 6 May 1996 07:42:27 -0600 (MDT)
In-Reply-To: <199605051939.PAA10429 at looney_actwin.com> from "Aquatic-Plants-Owner at ActWin_com" at May 5, 96 03:39:02 pm
This may sound like I'm joking, but I'm not. I'm serious.
I've been thinking about "light pipes" that will "funnel" sunlight
to my tanks. Our house doesn't really have any "good" locations for
planted tanks, because I can't get sunlight to them (ditto for the
houseplants). Since direct sunlight is quite a bit cheaper in
Colorado (sunshine 340 days a year) and the spectrum tends to be
pretty good for plants :-), I've been toying with the idea of
installing some kind of "light pipe" to direct sunlight to the
I have a good friend that's spent a lifetime in the optics industry,
and we've been playing with ideas. Right now, I'm thinking about
the following (I haven't done them yet):
- Install a skylight above the tanks. Impractical for this house,
but I'll have that in the next house.
- Install mirrors near the windows to reflect light to the tanks.
Of course, you can do multiple "bounces" to get it to the tanks.
It will light the room and give full sunlight exposure to the
tanks. Calibration may be a problem, so it's probably only light
for part of the day. You can alleviate the problem by using a
motor to follow the sun ($40-$100), or you can use a parabolic mirror
to increase the arc degrees in the sky that hits the tank. (This
can also be used for a solar furnace, which we can take a surface
While mirrors are probably not very attractive, it doesn't have
to be much: a 8"x8" mirror with direct sunlight is going to
be better than a VHO or MH with the same size, right?
- Use some kind of "light pipe": Outside the house (or wherever)
catch the light with a parabolic mirror, and reduce it into
a glass rod or fiber optic cable (make sure it's big enough to
handle the light and not burn out). You can then run this cable
through the walls or wherever (like an electric cord), and then
re-expand it with a lens over the tank. In essence, you run your
"light" like you run your electricity or water.
I know this is possible... I'm just not sure what the initial
expense would be. A rather nice benefit would be that your on-going
expenses would be _zero_, if you did it right. (Of course, your
expenses are not zero if you supplement with electric light; but
they would probably be less).
I just can't get over the fact that sunlight is free and is exactly
the right spectrum for our plants. I want to capitalize on that.
If this hobby is for the long haul, the initial expense might be
offset by the zero maintenance cost.
Finally, it does offer some other neat benefits such as seasonal
light period cycling for the plants, some days of lesser light
(like cloudy days), and light cycling during the day (we do have
afternoon showers here, but only for an hour. :-) Even on a
cloudy day, it's still seems brighter outside than over our tanks,
unless you're running MH.
cbay at jeppesen_com, cbay at verinet_com