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ballasts - convince me.
About a month ago, when I was laying plans for my aquarium hood, I went to Home
Depot to price parts. It soon became quite expensive, mainly because of the
ballasts. They ranged from $30-40, and I would need two of them to power four
40 watt flourescents, plus wire, endcaps, bulbs, wood, glue, stain, etc. etc.
I asked 4 people who worked in the electrical department what benefit I would
get from an expensive ballast, and none of them could tell me. I wound up
buying two $8 shop lights, some Phillips F40DX and GE Sun bulbs, and went home.
I painted them black and fashioned a little brace to hold them together in a
triangle pattern (so they'd fit over my tank) and I'm done.
I have read the APD archives about ballasts, and I'm still not convinced. OK,
so the little cheap ballasts in the shop lights may fizzle sooner; so what, the
whole light cost $8. So the bulbs may not last as long; so what, they cost less
than $5. So they cheap ballasts may not drive the $30 Actinic bulbs from the
LFS; so what, the common wisdom semms to be that you don't need them, they may
actually be detrimental to plant growth, and there are cheap alternatives with
nearly the same spectrum, for 'aesthetic appeal'.
I can replace parts in my current setup for YEARS before it would cost me as
much as one electronic ballast, and other saving me an occasional trip to the
hardware store, I get no benefit for the extra money spent.
So am I a fool, or a beacon of common sense? I stand by to be flamed :)