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RE: standard bulbs on the VHO ballast's
Colin Anderson wrote:
> Last weekend I was thumbing through a recent version of FAMA(forget
> which one) and read an article on lighting. The author had spoken
> with all the major electronic VHO ballast manufacturers, all but
> IceCap denied that the following would work.
> What he tried was running standard bulbs on the VHO ballasts, there
> was a short, vague explanation as why this would work, I didn't pay
> all that much attention. The article was also a little void of hard
> The conclusion was that the normal bulb was an economical choice over
> the VHO bulb when ran on a VHO Ballast. Light output was just
> slightly lower than that of a VHO bulb!
> I realize that there may be some safety concerns while doing this, or
> maybe not, I really don't know. But I'm curious if anyone on the
> list has tried this.
For a little over a year now, I've been running 24" NO bulbs on 2
and 3 ballast's, the ballast's are those cheap open core and coil type,
which I have wired in parallel.
I first tried this when I started researching the differences
between NO, HO and VHO bulbs. I found out that NO bulbs run at 425mA, HO at
800mA and VHO at 1500mA. So, using my very limited electrical background,
and knowing that when 2 batteries are connected together in parallel, the
output voltage remains the same and the amperage is doubled, I came to the
conclusion that a HO bulb could be run on 2 ballast's, effectively
Now for the fun part. I wired up a HO bulb so that I could run it
on either 1,2,3 or 4 ballast's by turning switches on or off. This bulb was
used and I really had no use for it, therefore I didn't really care if it
didn't survive. Not knowing if the bulb would simply light, or explode in a
blaze of glory, I hid behind the pool table with fire extinguisher in hand
when turning the switches on. Results, The bulb didn't want to fire on
just one ballast, it just flickered, I let it try for about 2 minutes before
it finally did. Once lit, it seemed to put out about the same light as a NO
bulb. I then turned on the second ballast, it got brighter ( I turned it
off and started it again with 2 ballast's and it lit right up). I then
turned on the third and fourth ballast, and it got brighter each time. I
was at the point now, where this one 35w bulb was illuminating my entire
basement quite nicely. I left it on for about an hour and the only drawback
was a noticeable increase in heat output, which I was expecting anyway.
Running the bulb on only 3 ballast's seemed to decrease the heat
Then, after thinking about it some more, I tried the same thing with
a NO bulb. SAME RESULTS. In fact the light output from either NO or HO
bulb seemed to be very close to the same when they were run on the same
number of ballast's.
My conclusion was that this would work, but probably shorten the
bulb life, but, since I was on a tight budget and was able to get about 160w
of light over a 29g tank for about $50, I was willing to replace the bulbs
more frequently. Well, I've been running the same bulbs like this for over
a year and have never had a failure.
Until recently, I have only used MH, and 18 - 24" fluorescent bulbs,
so I haven't had a chance to try it with the 48" tubes, but I'm assuming it
would work equally as well. I'll be trying that shortly since I just set up
a new 55g.
BTW, wiring the ballast's in series will cause the filaments in the
bulb to fail after only a few start ups, I tried this too. Interestingly,
the light output was the same as when the ballast's were wired in parallel.
Apparently doubling the voltage has the same effect as doubling the
amperage, only the filaments can't handle it.
To summarize what I just tried to say, the concept of using a VHO
ballast with NO bulbs will work, and I'm sure it will be much more efficient
than the core and coil ballast's I used.
Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that anyone even think about
trying this. I am only presenting my experiences on this topic. I would
not want to feel even remotely responsible for anyone being electrocuted or
burning their house down.
awaiting to be told that I'm wrong.