[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Lighting Info

With the recent questions about low cost lighting, I though this would be
Since I have recently completed building a DIY hood and used T8's with
an electronic ballast, I have aquired some understanding of lighting

First some general resources
1) FAQ: Aquatic Plant Q&A -
2) The Lighting section of KRIB -
3) Grainger Catalog under Lighting

All major lighting manufacturers have web pages of some sort, although
you may have to dig to find the right information. The Philips pages
have the most detailed information.

Philips - www.philips.com
Philips literature page -
P5277 Electronic Ballasts Catalog
P3007 TL70 Series Flourescent Lamps
P3008 TL80 Series Flourescent Lamps

GE - www.ge.com
Lighting Color - http://www.ge.com/lighting/business/quality.htm
Products Page - http://www.ge.com/lighting/business/products/index.htm
SP/SPX Series - http://www.ge.com/lighting/business/products/spspx.htm
Electronic Ballasts -

Sylvania - www.sylvania.com
Sylvania Industrial/Commercial -
OCTRON T8 Lamps - http://www.sylvania.com/ic/products/t8.htm
QUICKTRONIC Ballasts - http://www.sylvania.com/ic/products/qtt8.htm

General Info
Since the Plant FAQ covers things in general, I am going to talk
primarily about standard output four bulb electronic ballasts and energy
efficient T8 four foot 5000K bulbs, since that is what I used. The only
economic bulb length is really 4 ft, most of the others are more
expensive.  Of course if your tank is not >= 4 ft long, then you will
need other solutions.  There are also other considerations such as color
temperature and CRI for your situation. There are any number of reasons
to go with a common type of bulb, but the biggest ones are cost and
availability. Since the goverment passed the Energy Policy Act which
mandated that starting in April 1994 many common bulb types could not be
manufactured or imported into the US, the major manufacturers have all
been pushing energy efficient T8 bulbs.

The bulbs themselves are often called "lamps" and the end caps are often
called "lampholders" or "sockets".  Every bulb has generic type code and
one specific to a manufacturer.  If a length is not specified, most
often it means 4' lamps. The code F32T8 means

F - fluorescent
32 - watts
T8 - number of eights of an inch in diameter, T8 is 8/8 or 1"

I don't know much about the pin configuration code other than the
standard medium two pin T12 and T8 bulb is called G13. Every
manufacturer has their own way of describing bulbs but it generally
includes F32T8 and a model and color number.  I priced most of the
following bulbs at about $3.50 each.  Most of these are rated at about
20,000 hrs and I feel confident that I can get at least 1 year
(3650 hrs) of good light output from them.

Philips - F32T8/TL850
GE - F32T8/SPX50
Sylvania - FO32T8 OCTRON 5000K

I priced the four bulb, 120 volt, 32 watt, instant start, electronic
ballasts at about $25 to $30.  It was interesting to note that the 2, 3,
and 4 bulb ballasts were approximately the same price.

Sylvania QUICKTRONIC QT-4X32/120IS 

Lampholders/End Caps
You could get by with standard lampholders if you are willing to replace
them when they corrode.  I priced them at $2/pair.  Or you can spend
some money and get water resistant end caps mail order at about

Coralife T8 Endcaps w Clips   AF936

Material Costs
Homemade hood -           $50
Electronic Ballast -      $30
4 Bulbs -                 $14
4 Pr End Caps w 8 clips - $40
Aluminum Foil Reflector
Total                    $134

I fit four bulbs with endcaps into a 8 inch wide by 48 3/8 inch long space
in my
hood (inner dimensions).

I put this over a 55 gal tank, which is about 2.3 watts/gal 10 hrs/day
and plant growth has been tremendous.  I have a vericulite/gravel
substrate, DIY CO2 injection, and fertilize with PMDD. Many of the
plants have gotten a red pigmentation to protect themselves from light. 
I think I could have gotten by with less light.

Where to buy
Look in the yellow pages for a metropolitan area under Lighting. 
Pick out 2 or 3 vendors that look like they offer a wide selection of
bulbs and ballasts.  Call and ask about fluorescent bulbs and electronic
ballasts.  Tell them what you want. I bought mine from the store that
had everything I wanted in stock.

Harold G. Walters
hgwalters at halnet_com