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T-8 System Setup Questions


My name is Brain. I have been reading APD at the website for a while. I just subscribed so I could begin posting. Iíve been reading about T-8 lights in some old posts from Karen Randall. I called my local lighting distributor and found out they have T-8 fixtures ready to use with the ballast and everything. When I went to the store and saw them I was dissapointed. They were bulky and heavy and really more for industrial uses. The 4 bulb fixture was 23 inches wide, way too much for my 75 gallon tank. There was no way I could put a reflector behind it or even add aluminum. Furthermore, the the salesperson told me that the ballast factor varies because they could have either advance or magnatek but wasnít willing to open each one to find out. I left dissapointed because I wanted to buy a ready-made system. 

After reading more old posts, I decided I could put together my own system. I am hoping to buy a high ballast factor electronic ballast and then use GE SPX50 T-8 lights with Coralife End Caps or Triton End Caps and Coralife heavy duty blub clips. I have a few questions about setting this all up 

1. How do I attach the ballast to the Coralife or Triton End Caps. The picture in my Mail Order catalog only shows one part of the endcaps. Do the leads end with bare wire? How do you put the end caps and ballast wires together. Do I have to twist the wire from the end caps and the wires from the ballast and use a Heat Shrink to keep them together? All the T-8 ballasts I have seen in local stores have ballasts which have wires with bare leads. 
2. Do you encase the ballast in metal or can you just mount it in the wooden hood. I noticed all the the stores ballasts were in metal casing. 
3. The salesperson recommended that I not put together my own system. He said when you mix one manufacturs ballast and add another endcaps and put them together yourself it is not safe (would not be fireproof) and would never meet fire codes. Is there any reason I couldnít add coralife endcaps to a slyvania or advance ballast. Was he just trying to sell me his finished system? Iíll pay more to avoid burning down my home. 
4. A more specific question about the electronic ballasts: Lets say you have a 3 bulb T-8 ballast. Is it possible to start with 2 bulbs and then add a third bulb later? Does the circuit run with 1 bulb out in case I have hair algae and need to lower light levels later. 
5. I have heard that if you have television with rabbit ears or a radio that the electronic ballasts can interfere and cause static on your tv even if on another floor. I know there are many people who use these ballasts was this an exaggeration? 
6. Is the most important thing to get a high ballast factor? One website suggested that if you canít find a high ballast factor not to go with T-8 lights. 

I didn't realize how many questions I had until I got started. I'm looking forward to getting my lighting system up. 


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