Lighting upgrade for my 100 gal
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Old 05-31-2004, 04:16 AM   #1
Wasserpest
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Lighting upgrade for my 100 gal


Lighting is probably the most expensive, and most influential part of a planted tank. The rate of plant growth is pretty much proportional to the amount of light entering the tank.

After looking at my lights for a year, I decided it was time for an upgrade. I wanted to get more light into the tank, without increasing wattage=energy costs.

My setup was:

1 Advance electronic ballast was connected to two T8 bulbs (one Florasun and one 5000K bulb). Both looked really dim. I lined the gutters with mylar which isn't bad per se, just the angle wasn't quite right.
2 Helios 38W T5 bulbs/fixtures, 10000K. I really like them, but the missing reflector made them a little inefficient.
2 13W AHS fixtures, and 2 10W Walmart bulbs with mirror reflector. These four filled the space left by the 48" bulbs in my 60" long tank.

So I bought a Workhorse 7 ballast ($40), two reflectors made for T5's (2x $25 + $20 SH), and two T5 54W HO bulbs (2x $15 + 10 SH). All in all $150... I think T5 bulbs are more efficient than PC's, that's why I went this route.

Here is the comparison pic... before and after. You'll notice the four little fixtures. Actually I figured out that the AHS fixtures had some kind of film over their shiny surface which I had not removed. Normally I am not that bad... So they might seem a tad lighter, after scrubbing and swearing for quite some time.
On top, the Helios T5 which I have not changed.
Below, first T8, now T5 with excellent reflector.
Below, one Helios which was replaced by a new T5 with reflector.
On the bottom, the Florasun, now driven by the Workhorse (big difference) and also I played - successfully - with the position of my mylar reflectors.

Light-wise, it made a huge difference. There was quite a bubble bath when I turned on those lights. Watt-wise, it's a little bit more, but instead of running all bulbs 13 hours a day, I run only the Helios and the 4 small fixtures the entire time, and the rest of the bulbs only for 10 hours.

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Old 05-31-2004, 07:19 AM   #2
chrisl
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It looks alot better Wasserpest! Much better spectrum and even dispersion of lighting.
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Old 06-01-2004, 04:37 PM   #3
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The spectrum is really not much changed... The point I was trying to make was that good reflectors make a huge difference
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Old 06-01-2004, 04:41 PM   #4
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Just so you know Wasserpest... a 54 watt T5 HO is "exactly" the same as a 55 watt CF bulb.. The only difference is the physical shape of the bulb.

Now, by the very nature of a straight bulb versus a bent one, they are minutely more efficient by not losin glight at the bend, etc... But that is insignificant
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Old 06-01-2004, 05:14 PM   #5
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I disagree Even though they are the same technology, the U shape of the PC wastes a lot of light, compared to the individual reflector wrapped around a single T5 tube.

This is more gutfeel than scientific research. It would be interesting to do a test: Compare two T5 54W side by side with individual reflectors, to two 55W PC bulbs head to head.

Heck both will be blinding... but I would expect significant differences, due to the fact that the PC bulbs have two tubes side by side, which does not double the light output.
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Old 06-01-2004, 05:37 PM   #6
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I was more comparing the technical differences then the practical ones.. I agree that the shape of the bulb does reduce the ammount of light that can get into the tank.. however the technology "inside" the bulb.. is the same...

Most of the light lost is by having the tubes side by side.. there is a lot of left-right restrike into the bulb.. I thought I had that in the above post.. guess I forgot to copy that paragraph.. lol (I was doing my post in Word and pasting it in.. oops..)
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