Low tech t8 lighting help - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 06:05 AM Thread Starter
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Low tech t8 lighting help

so here is the run down. standard 55 gal tank. soilmaster as substrate. no co2 might dose excel but still don't know about that. can dose ferts because i will have them for a high tech set up.

here are the diff lighting options that im thinkin about.
1. 2x32 watt t8 normaly driven-$25
2. 2x32 watt t8 2x overdriven-$25
3. 4x32 watt t8 normaly driven-$40

im thinking choice 2 would be good but didn't know if it would be too much light for a low tech w/o co2.

i've already rulled out t5 and pc's due to the cost.

so what does everyone think?
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 06:55 AM
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Option two barely puts you at 1.75WPG which is still low tech and you won't need CO2.

Option three gives you 2.3 WPG, close to needing you to inject CO2. Don't use it if you're going low tech.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 07:29 AM Thread Starter
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thats great. it's always nice when the cheaper option is the better option
thanks for the advice.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 01:53 PM
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I've been running 1 pair of 4ft T8's. They were obviously an improvement over the stock 15W lights, and I even started building a really nice hood for them.

But recently I upgraded to 4 bulbs, and I regret it. My plants do not seem to grow any faster, the overall brightness/contrast has not changed - to the eye. My water has also started to become more cloudy. Wether the water cloudiness is a issue with the lights or not, I don't yet know.

I also have an 10 gallon experiment tank running same hours same plants similar ratio CO2, but it has 2 screw in CF bulbs, and the plants in there grow 2x faster, water is crystal clear, and plants just look so much healthier. I only fertilize 'K'.

I have a feeling that these regular flourescent bulbs just don't quite get "bright" enough - to make the grade. Don't get me wrong, I get the impression that you can have 1000 watts over your tank, but if it's spread out, and thin, the plants just don't seem to enjoy it as much as a more concentrated source.

So, if my opinion fits in the corner of your mind, i'd also like to hear your feedback on your system for comparison. I'm shopping AH supply's 2x55 setup...
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 02:34 PM
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I have 3 x 32w on my 55g. It seems to be a good balance for non CO2.

Regards,
Sam
  • 20g planted
  • 20g & 29g fw fish only
  • 10g Hex planted
  • 55g planted
  • 65g SW Macroalgae & Fish
  • 175g FW
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 03:38 PM
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So, how do you "overdrive a T8? Does it reduce life considerably? WHat is the new wattage? I assume you use a higher power ballast assy...?
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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on a normal driven bulb you use one wire from the ballast to the bulb but on over driven bulbs you use more than one. there is a sticky about overdriving bulbs in the lighiting forum. so what i am going to do is use a 4x32watt ballast and run two wires to each of the two bulbs. The life of the bulb is probably reduced but i wouldn't know by how much. The nice thing is that two 32watt t8 bulbs are only 6 bucks at home depot so that won't be a big deal. The new wattage acording to the other thread is 54 watts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frostby View Post
So, how do you "overdrive a T8? Does it reduce life considerably? WHat is the new wattage? I assume you use a higher power ballast assy...?
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 06:26 PM
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For our purposes it is better to use less, but brighter bulbs. 2 overdriven bulbs will probably equal the output of 4 normally driven bulbs. If you build your own hood, think about reflectors too. If you cram many bulbs side by side, there is a lot light lost due to restrike. 2 bulbs with excellent reflectors might get more light into the tank than 4 bulbs without or with a mediocre reflector.

For my 55gal low-tech tank, I am using two 4' T5 bulbs, and drive them to 2x40 = 80 Watts. Sounds low, but they are very efficient, and combined with very good reflectors a lot of light goes into the tank.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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yea. im going to build my own hood. instead of reflectors i was thinking about just painting the inside of the canopy white or i might cover the inside with mylar.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 03:59 AM
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quality reflectors for t-8 have been hard for me to find as well. I would use a high gloss white. Plus white is a decent reflector.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 06:05 AM
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Guess what I just bought!!

A 4X32 sylvania electronic ballast to overdrive my T8's! It's bedtime now, so i can't wait to see what happens. If this is my last post, things didn't go so well!!!
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 07:01 AM
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...lol, what?
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
If this is my last post, things didn't go so well!!!
Remember, Electricity is Your Friend!
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 05:20 PM
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Suspense is killing me...

Regarding reflectors for T8's, I used excellent reflectors from AH Supply, they are made for CF bulbs, but work great for T8's too.

Since then I switched to T5's and now the reflectors are collecting dust.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 05:53 PM
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Dang you all.... and your recommendations. MY WALLET CAN"T TAKE THIS!!!! Everytime somebody says they have this great... gizmo.... here goes frostby....straight to the store to buy or build or try this and that. AAAAHHHGGGHHH! I need help. Is there a "support" forum I can grieve at?

I spent more on tank toys, than I did on the tank and stand itself. I hope my wife never finds out!

-so, ahsupply will sell just a reflector? ca-ching, ching... as wallet keeps getting thinner and thinner
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