Overdriving 18" F15T8 bulbs...
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Old 10-22-2002, 01:12 PM   #1
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For those of you with smaller tanks, requiring standard 18" 15watt fluorescent bulbs, you can overdrive these tubes with the same F32T8 ballast I mentioned in the other thread.

I'm using this setup on my 20g reef and the light is actually intense enough to create the "ripple" effect. Since I don't have a dozen tubes over my tank, the concentrated light comes from a small 18" bulb and water agitation will cause the ripple effect (water agitation obviously not being desireable in a planted tank, but my point withstanding).



I am driving two 18" bulbs in series. Total output is approximately 50 watts. If you were to connect only one bulb, you'd be driving it at about 30 watts. Bulb life would be reduced somewhat in either configuration, and some extra heat would be created. A small fan could extend the life of the bulb by 50%-100%.

You could concievably retrofit this ballast into any existing strip light with an 18" bulb. The ballast is fairly small and since it is electronic, it won't buzz and will stay very cool. The bulbs will get warmer, as I mentioned, but shouldn't be warm enough to melt the plastic material most strip lights are made of.
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Old 10-22-2002, 01:13 PM   #2
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Once again, image tags are giving me grief... here's the diagram for two 18" bulbs in series...
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Old 10-23-2002, 02:23 PM   #3
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OK, I'll give this a try. Not being clever at these things, is there any trick that I need to be aware of, so I don't ruin anything?

I'll be using this on a 10 gallon hood with a single 15 watt tube.
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Old 10-23-2002, 07:19 PM   #4
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Electronic ballasts are VERY easy to hook up. Much easier than magnetic ballasts, with their starters and all. You just pull your magnetic ballast and starter out of your 10g hood and mount the electronic ballast in it's place. The ballast has a black and white wire feed - just connect this to the power cord in place of the magnetic ballast. There should also be a green wire in the hood, which is ground. Just run that under one of the screws you use to mount the electronic ballast to the housing. The metal case of the housing needs to contact ground.

Then the hook up to the bulb is simple. There are two similar colors (for a two bulb ballast, four for a four bulb ballast), twist these together and then twist two wires coming out of one side of the end connectors and connect the two. Then there is another wire that's the common (usually yellow) connect that to the two wires at the other endcap.

Plug it in and enjoy!

Although you shouldn't see any problems, it's always a good idea to wear eye protection when testing electronic devices in unconventional configurations. Also, after firing the bulb up, monitor temperature for about 15 mins before placing the strip back on the tank. The bulb will definitely get warm, but it shouldn't be hot enough to where you want to pull your hand away. If everything looks good, mount the strip and you're done.

In any case - it's a good idea to provide some sort of additional cooling to help extend bulb life. Even a few additional holes drilled in the ends of the strip can provide much needed air to keep the housing from melting. :fire:
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Old 10-23-2002, 11:45 PM   #5
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That ballast is twice as big as the space in my fixture -- gues that makes sense as it powers two lights not one. I toyed with cutting out this and that and, well, I chickened out. Decided to get two of those spiral flourescents for the incandescent hood instead of messing with the flourescent hood.

But, I'm keeping the info, just the same. Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-26-2002, 03:21 AM   #6
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do you think its safe to apply this to a 15" 15w strip light? if so it would solve a lighting problem for me.
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Old 10-28-2002, 12:45 PM   #7
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The ballast are probably to big to fit in a standard Perfecto or AGA strip hood, I guess. You could mount the ballast remotely, though and run the wires into the hood, or mount it to the rear of the strip. Definitely a few ways you can get creative.

ridns, I'm actually using this for an 18" 15w strip light right now over my 20g H reef. Most people that have used this setup have had more success with just the 2x OD not the 4x (too much heat, lot much additional light). I always buy the 4-F32T8 ballast anyway, though, just so you have room to expand if you desire.
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Old 10-28-2002, 09:40 PM   #8
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I completely forgot about putting the ballast in the cord outside the strip. Thanks for jarring my brain. I've bought strips factory built this way in years past. I'm off to buy a couple more ballasts, lighting problem solved! :hehe:
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Old 10-29-2002, 12:49 PM   #9
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The plants are thanking you! But this is an addiction! I want MORE light now! My planted tank has enough light. I'm going to double the light going into my 20gal reef, hehe. SPS corals here I come!
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Old 10-29-2002, 02:50 PM   #10
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After I wire the ballast inline on the power cord, I can go into the fixture/strip and bypass the starter and of coarse the old ballast .... right?????:hehe:
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Old 10-29-2002, 03:44 PM   #11
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Right, use the two wires in the power cord as "feed and return" wires. One goes to one side of the bulb, the other to the opposite side. Bypass the starter and old ballast altogether. Maybe even take them out, making more room for air movement.
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Old 11-03-2002, 05:08 AM   #12
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GulfCoastAquarian , can you post some of the images from your tank with the overdriven bulbs. I'm curious to see what the tank looks like. A before and after image would be cool if you have it...
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Old 11-04-2002, 01:59 PM   #13
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I don't have a digital camera, so I'll have to borrow one, but I'll post them when I get them. Right now the reef tank with the OD 18" bulbs is in its 7th week of cycle and experiencing a nice lush growth of brown algae. A few more weeks and red, then the tank should be seasoned and ready for corals!
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Old 11-06-2002, 02:37 PM   #14
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I'm going to give this a try tonight. I am going to be building this from scratch. I'm kinda clueless but what connectors should I buy? Am I looking at the standard flourescent sockets at home depot. Will this work for the t8 bulbs ? I checked on homedepot.com and I'm think about getting the 1.70 ones. Also what is the difference between the face mount and snap in ? I plan on mounting it in the white plastic gutter material until I can get a hood built. Does this sound do-able for a novice like me ?
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Old 11-06-2002, 04:29 PM   #15
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One more thing, my tank is a ~30 gallon bow tank and the length of the tank is 24" . Is it possible to install the 24" bulbs on there instead of 18" without it sticking off the end. Are the bulbs exactly 24" or is it 24" with the connectors. Sorry for asking so many questions.
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