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Re: T8s


You don't need special high priced end caps -- any T8 sockets will do. 
Water resistant "sealing" endcaps are only a necessity if you plan on
not having any glass or lucite between the bulbs and the tank water.

> 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?

You'll want to have something to strip wires because you'll probably
want to cut wires to length for a tidy installation.

> How do you put the end caps
> and ballast wires together.

Follow the instructions that come with the ballasts.  Check before
purchase that instructions are provided. Endcaps or socket taht can
accept T8s have two wire connections on each endcap -- one wire
connection connects the electricity to one pin on the end of a T8 and
the other connects to the other pin (when the bulb is installed in the
endcaps/sockets, of course)

> 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? 

Never rely in heat shrink tubing to hold wires together.  It's only
value is as insulation and to improve appearance.

>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.

On wood is fine but you might need to connect a wire to the reflector,
the ballast body and to ground.  This might be necessary to prevent
radio frequencies generated by the lights and ballast from causing
problems with your radios or TVs.  You might also want this ground wire
to spiral around the other wires going between ballast and bulbs.

> 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.

I think your salesperson is full of baloney or a liar, although those
two traits are not mutually exclusive. 

> Is there any reason I
> couldnít add coralife endcaps to a slyvania or advance ballast. 

Absolutely not.

> he just trying to sell me his finished system? Iíll pay more to avoid
> burning down my home.   Endcaps only connect ballast wires to bulbs
>and, in some designs, also serve to hold the bulbs in place.  You're
>not going to burn your house down.

> 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? 

Depends on the ballast design -- the possible wiring arrangements,
including number of bulbs should be included with the instructions. 
Most commonly availalbe ballasts are made either to work one or two
bulbs but not both combinations for each ballast.  IceCap's ballasts,
very expensive, are claimed to be able to work well with 1, 2, 3, 4
bulbs or various types.  But this is not true for most non-electronic

IceCap can be found at 

>Does the circuit run with 1 bulb out

Again, the same applies -- depends on the ballast.

> in case I have hair algae and need to lower light levels later. 

IMO, start with the right amount of light, stick to it, and change
other conditions to minimize algae.

> 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? 

Yes and no.  It can happen; it's lesss of an issue with decently design
ballasts and properly grounded lighting set-ups.  I think this is
actually rather rare.

> 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. 

Higher ballast factors generally translate to higher efficiency.  Note,
however, that efficiency is not necessarily effectivness.  But if
bang-for-buck is primary concern, get the highest ballast factor you
> I didn't realize how many questions I had until I got started. I'm
> looking forward to getting my lighting system up. 

Seriously, Brian, have you looked into Power Compacts instead of T8s? 
Probably more expensive to set up but AH Supply has lots of sizes of
kits and provides great service, inlcuding over-the-phone help.  I have
nothing to do with AH Supply except that I am a happy customer.  You
can get more light into a smaller lamp with PCs and they are at least
as efficient as a good T8 set-up.

You can find AH Supply at 


Hope this helps.
Scott H

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