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Old 22-04-2007, 11:59 PM posted to rec.aquaria.freshwater.plants
.D.E. .D.E. is offline
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Mar 2007
Posts: 5
Default Lighting fixture upgrade. Questions

Last year my fixtures packed it in. I looked at using T5 bulbs, but the
ballast wouldn't support them. I then looked at replacing the ballasts. A
new fixture was $2 more expensive than the ballasts and the fixture had a 1
year warranty. So, now that T12 tubes are getting harder to find, I may just
have to switch to T8 bulbs.

I was running a 50 watt CF on my older 27 gal hex, but have since gotten rid
of that tank. I did like the lighting of the CF's, but the bulbs now are
expensive. The T5's look promising, but will they still produce the wattage
I need? I need at least 2.42 watts per gallons to maintain my tank. I would
like to increase the wattage to 3 watts per gallon.

"ginko" wrote in message
Just for fun, you can consider an incremental approach which is
cheaper to do and results in lower electricity costs.

The easiest way to upgrade a T12 fixture is to get some T8 bulbs.
These will use less energy and produce the same light. About a
20 percent reduction in energy use. T8 bulbs will work fine in
most T12 fixtures.

The next thing to do is replace the ballast with an electronic one.
This should give you another 10 percent improvement in energy use.

The next thing to do is replace the reflector, if it was an inefficient
one. This should send at least 30 percent more of the light that was
previously wasted down into the tank.

You can also play with the wiring and over-drive the tubes for
some more output. This is less efficient, but a really cheap way
to get more light per tube since T8 tubes are pretty cheap to replace
after you cook them by overdriving them.

I have bought a T5 HO TekLight and it's awesome. The narrower
tubes are quite efficient and the reflector efficiency sends
most of the light straight down into the tank.

But, this is ezpensive. I also use updated T8 fixtures which do
a really good job for the money I spent on them.

For long aquariums, especially 48 inch long aquariums, I think
it's absurd to use Power Compact.
* Since the tubes are bent, reflectors can never be as good as
those for linear tubes.
* PC bulbs are also more of a custom item, so their replacement
cost is much higher than linear T8 tubes.
* Then you have to have a fan to cool the PC fixture, this
wastes energy
* PC sends less light down into the tank for a given "watts per gallon"
than T8 and espeically T5 linear fixtures.

I do use PC fixtures for tanks that are not very wide. That's what
the "compact" part was designed for since short linear tubes don't
emit very much light.

Vendors may want you to buy PC fixtures. That way you get locked
into buying their expensive replacement bulbs since you can't go to
the local hardware store and buy cheap T8 6500K tubes for $5.00 a pop.
With all the tube shapes and end cap variations it's non-trivial
to replace a PC bulb.

T5 fixtures are also not as convienent since you have to mail order
for replacement tubes to get decent prices.

Above all, remember that watts per gallon is a rough estimate, not a
rule. Different tubes run at different efficiencies. Then once you
have the light, you want to send it down into the tank with a good
reflector. T5 is best at this, T8 is not too bad and power compact
can be quite wasteful.

Power Compact will work just fine. But why spend more money for
tubes? Plus your monthly electricity bill will be higher than it
needs to be, which means that you are sending extra CO2 into the
atmosphere for no practical reason.

.D.E. wrote:
: Since I have an older T12 lighting fixture, and now it seems that older
: bulbs are getting harder to find as well as in different wave lengths,
: thinking of upgrading my fixtures. Compact Fluorescent is looking nice
at 96
: watts on a dual bulb fixture, but T5 is looking good as well. I was told
: that the T5 bulbs aren't rated in watts as much as the older T12's were.
: Currently I'm running 160 watts of 4 x 40 watt bulbs. I want to maintain
: that as minimum lighting possibly going as high as 200 on my 66 gallon
: planted tank.
: Go with T5's? They are bright, but what will my wattage be if I add 2
: 48" bulbs?
: CF? A little pricey for the bulbs, but hell, at 2 96 dual fixtures, that
: would be great.
: Suggestions?
: Thanks.