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re: Light for My New 40 G Tank

On Monday, September 13, 1999 2:48:03 AM, Kean Huat Yeap 
<keanhuat at yahoo_com> wrote:

> I went to home depot today and spent about an hour there but still
> couldn't find the light fixture that I want.
> I guess I have to make myself a DIY light hood/enclosure for the tank.
> But I have no idea about electrical stuff which is my major
> concern--fire hazard. If you guys know any very easy DIY light projects
> for someone like me, please let me know.

Ken, I ran into the same problem with my 36" 45 gal tank. This length is
significantly more expensive to light than 48" or 24" tanks, primarily
because the lamps cost so much (economy of scale, I guess). I finally
settled on a DIY hood with 4 T8 lamps driven by a Motorola "Normal output"
electronic ballast. Wiring the Motorola ballasts is really quite simple,
since all the connections are made by stripping 3/8" insulation off the wire
and poking it in a hole. Same with the lamp sockets (I used low-profile
"tombstones"). The ballast has a wiring diagram on it that is easy to
follow. Actually, the hardest part was building the enclosure.

My expenses were approximately as follows:

1 Ballast: $25.00
8 end sockets: $4.00
wire: $3.00 for way more than I needed
2 x 4 x 1/2" plywood of choice: $10.00 (I used birch)
1 x 2 hardwood bracing: free  (I used scraps)
10" wide aluminum flashing for reflector: $2.50 for more than I needed
screws, glue, stain, etc: about $8.00
hinges for lid: $1.50
4 GE SP41 T8 lamps: $36.00 (ouch!)

This gives me 100 watts of T8 light. According to Motorola, normal output
ballasts combined with 32 watt T8s will achieve a light level equal to that
of a 40 watt T12. I presume that my 100 watts of T8s are therefore euivalent
to 120 watts of T12s, or the equivalent of just under 3 watts/gal on my 45
gal tank. Another nice thing about these ballasts is that the same ballast
will work on either 24", 36" or 48" lamps. So you could start with smaller
lamps and later move up to larger ones, without buying a new ballast. You
can also get 2 or 3 lamp ballasts if you want less wattage.

Forget Home Depot for the electrical stuff (the one near me didn't even have
18-AWG wire required by the ballast). Try electrical lighting suppliers,
which usually have better selection of lamps and also better prices than
Home Depot.

I must admit I did not investigate the compact flourescents very much, and
so I don't know whether I might have been better off with these or not (I
suspect I would have spent more, though).

I can email you a simple illustration of my setup if you're interested.
Email me off list.

Dan Dixon