Re: Aquatic Plants Digest V1 #235

>  <<Intro deleted>>

> I realize many people are having great success with inexpensive 40W FL
> bulbs of all kinds.  However, are there any people here on the list with
> any experience with VHO systems?  There is one fellow on CompuServe that
> swears by his VHO AquaSun bulbs.  The URI AquaSun bulbs have internal
> reflectors.  

I am using VHO Aquasun on my tank.  Single 95W (36") tube on a 30 gal long.
I retrofitted the set up into my existing Perfecto hood. The only parts I
reused were the hood case, sockets, and insert.  This was actually the
most cost-effective solution to getting suficient light, since I already
had the hood.

> George has, on more than one occasion, stated that the
> internal reflectors in FL bulbs have little influence on the performance
> of the bulb.  URI has no literature to backup any performance claims but
> alluded to a non-reflector version being planned.
It's sort of a non-issue since you can't buy this lamp any other way.

> That aside, does anyone know from personal experience that a 110W
> AquaSun VHO bulb is 2x brighter than most 40W bulbs?  URI claims that
> their AquaSun is 2.5x brighter.  Brighter than what?  A $30 Triton?  A
> GE $2 Special?  I don't know.  The URI "tech" said he knew for a "FACT"
> that the VHO 110W AquaSun is 2.5 times brighter than the NO 40W AquaSun.
> When pressed for a paper version of that "FACT" he couldn't produce.

You would have to conduct independent tests to verify this.  

> Champion claims that the AquaSun's are "too bright to look at".  All
> very subjective if you ask me.
Very much so, but I will say they ARE uncomfortable to view directly
under inside ambient light on a sunny day.  Not very scientific, of course.

> BTW, Champion has a retro kit that includes four 48" 110W AquaSun bulbs,
> IceCap Ballast, Endcaps and Wiring harness for $339.
I don't think you need this much light.  The Champion tech I spoke to
said one VHO lamp would provide the necessary 3W/gallon.  So that is
what I did.  Maybe you only need a two-lamp setup.

> The IceCap Electronic Ballast receives a lot of ad space in the
> magazines.  It can support VHO, HO and Normal Output FL bulbs in any
> combination.  However, I haven't seen much user experience with the
> IceCap posted to the net.   
I am using the IceCap 430 and it works very  well. It  was quite easy
to install and there were no startup problems. It operates any kind of 
lamp just as advertised.  I set it up on its heat sink in the base of my
stand, not permanently mounted.  It runs very cool to the touch.

> Claims have been made that an electronic ballast can greatly extend the
> life of bulbs (VHO or NO).  URI wouldn't specify how much longer their
> bulbs would last on an electronic ballast vs tar.  The guy alluded to 3
> or 4 months longer.  He possibly stated the claim a little more
> accurately in that an Electronic ballast will prolong the life of a
> specific bulb compared to that same bulb on a tar ballast. VHO bulbs
> however do not necessarily last twice as long as NO bulbs. The electonic
> ballast simply runs the lamps much cooler, so that even NO bulbs would
> have a much greater lifespan.
VHO lamps with regular ballasts have a short life span (3-4 months) so with
the electronic ballast is approximately double the life, it would seem.
I'll probably be replacing my lamp every 6 months or so. Haven't reached
that decision point yet.

My current setup runs noticably cooler than the previous tar ballast/NO

> So I'm seriously considering the IceCap/VHO setup.  I can still purchase
> some standard 40W bulbs for comparison and do a side-by-side.

Actually, electronic ballasts are not new in the general lighting field and
they have established a track record for prolonging lamp life and running
much cooler than tar ballasts.  They are also dimmable, which other ballasts
don't support.  This is on NO lamps, of course, since VHO lamps are still
fairly new.

* Nick LaRocca		  	e-mail:	nickl at css_sed.monmouth.army.mil	*