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Re: power compacts

On Thu, 26 Nov 1998, Hatef Yamini wrote:

> If you go to www.customsealife.com you will find that PC's >4100K are
> not so hard to find.  custom sea life uses 6700K and 7100K PC lighting
> at affordable prices.  That fish place, Pet Warehouse and Aquarium
> Center in Baltimore, MD are among some of the retailers that stock
> these lights.
> then again, maybe we have different opinions on what is meant by "big
> ticket item."  complete PC hoods with fan units run around $169 to
> $400.  Not exactly DIY prices!

Exactly!  You can set up a 6500K T8-based system providing 4x32 watts of
fluorescent light for under $65 (and if you don't mind having shoplights
on your tanks, you don't even have to do any more work than swapping
ballasts!).  I found I could put together a 4100K 2x36W CF system for
about $60 with parts from the local commercial lighting place. The
equivalent "CustomSeaLife" version is a little more than double that, just
for the "bare bones" version, and triple that amount to get the full hood.

On the one hand, that's sort of what you'd expect in the aquarium tech
industry... the markup seems about the same as they do for MH lighting,
and even the new T8-based fixtures (c.f. Red Sea's "Phazer" which sells
for $150 (2 bulbs) and $300 (4 bulbs)).  I think that many crazed
reefkeepers (the intended audience) will pay those prices.

On the other hand... NO!  We DIY'ers don't have to but into that!  The
only reason I need these form factors is for doing nuclear Amano-style
10-gallon tanks (yes, I think it'd be kinda cool to try 72 watts over a 10
someday.. I'm also thinking of retrofitting a Marineland 6-gallon tank
with a single 36W fixture).  I certainly don't need the slightly higher
color temperature if it's going to cost us an extra $60-120. In my
fishroom, I have a few 4100K tubes (bought at Home Depot in a pinch), and
most folks can't tell the difference between them and the 5000K tubes.  
So the CF arena is definitely open to DIY experimentation.

Two notes: There is one manufacturer that makes big 5000K CF's (i.e. 36
watt). I think it's phillips, but I'd have to check my book at work.  If
you're interested, I think it's on their website. Second, I think one
could probably buy the ballasts and sockets from a commercial lighting
supplier and just get the tubes from Pet Warehouse (or whatever) for
$25-35.  This is similar to the tact some of us have taken on heating
cables: buy the cable, the one "mysterious" part, from Dupla, and get the
transformer and other "known" parts elsewhere much cheaper.

I think that as prices start to drop, it would be kinda cool to have a
simple pair of 96 watt tubes over a 100-gallon tank.  But not for $500.

   - Erik

Erik Olson
erik at thekrib dot com