ODing a 125 gallon
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Old 07-12-2003, 12:25 PM   #1
Baller
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I really wasn't sure where to post this. I read all 11 pages of the ODNO topic and was gonna reply there but seeing that the last reply there was made back in April I'm gonna start my own thread. Hope it's okay.

First off, when I go to Home Depot is there a certain brand of ballast I should be looking for? For the bulbs I would like to try the GE P&A bulbs but I'm not sure if they come in the size I need.

Anyway, I'm gettin a custom 125g(72x18x20) and I want to plant it. My goal is to achieve 2wpg or more. So that's 250w. I read very early in the post that a single f32t8 bulb with a 4-32ft8 ballast is equivelant to 125w. So do I need 2 bulbs with their own ballast each or can I just use one ballast for the 2 bulbs and still get 250w?

Another concern of mine is the length, since a f32t8 is 4 feet they wouldn't fit perfectly across the length. However 2 36" bulbs would, the f25t8. What ballast do I need to run these for at least 250w?

Late in the thread there was some talk that 2x balaast is actually better then 4x ballast but I didn't get a clear answer. Is there a verdict on this?

Whew! Sorry for the loads of questions but this is something I'd like to get right the first time!

Bye!
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Old 07-12-2003, 07:35 PM   #2
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I am sure GCA will answer those questions more professionally, but here is what I think...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baller
First off, when I go to Home Depot is there a certain brand of ballast I should be looking for?
You should be looking for an electronic ballast that can handle 4 x 32W T8's. These should give you the greatest flexibility for many different setups. My HD carries Advance ballasts like REL-4P32-SC for under $20, but there are other brands, plus in the ODNO thread someone suggested another ballast that seemed better suited for overdriving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baller
For the bulbs I would like to try the GE P&A bulbs but I'm not sure if they come in the size I need.
The best selection of bulbs you will find for 40W T12 bulbs, which are 48" long. There are also shorter bulbs specifically for growing plants, like in the 36" you mentioned, but the problem here is that two 36" bulbs will be just a little longer than the length of your tank, not sure if that would be a problem, depends on the hood. There are also 60" and 72" bulbs, but I believe mostly warm-white or cool-white which are both too yellow for our purposes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baller
I read very early in the post that a single f32t8 bulb with a 4-32ft8 ballast is equivelant to 125w. So do I need 2 bulbs with their own ballast each or can I just use one ballast for the 2 bulbs and still get 250w?
Driving a 32W bulb to 125W sounds a little too risky for me... also they will get VERY hot, so you would need a lot of forced cooling (and some good air conditioning in summer... depending on where you live).
To do that, you would need one 4x ballast for each bulb. If you use one 4x ballast for 2 32W bulbs, you achieve 2x OD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baller
Late in the thread there was some talk that 2x balaast is actually better then 4x ballast but I didn't get a clear answer. Is there a verdict on this?
I think you got confused here... it is not the 2x or 4x ballast, it is the 4x or 2x OD of the bulbs that is in question. If you use a 4x ballast and feed all 4 cables into one bulb you get a 4x OD, if you connect only 2 cables you get the 2x etc. The heat and diminishing efficiency of the 4x OD has been discussed and questioned. While the wattage doubles and quadruples, the light output does not, and the difference between 2x and 4x in terms of light is not that great.

I am not sure what would be the best configuration for a F25T8 setup (probably connecting two of them in series?). But if I were you... I would fit 4 48" T8's staggered over your tank, and OD them 2x with 2 ballasts, which would give you an equivalent of 4 x 64 => 250W.
This would leave you some options for future light increases open... if you decide you need them... Adding 2 more ballasts to 3x OD the bulbs, or add some power compacts in the remaining spaces...

Another thing is that you won't find GE P&A bulbs in T8 size, but you can use T12's in this setup as well.

Hope that clears up some things for you :mrgreen:
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:38 PM   #3
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Alright, I can only post anecdotal evidence here. I recently converted a All Glass Twin Tube strip light to an overdriven fixture. I replace each ballast (2) with a 4xF32T8 electronic ballast. Meaning, I ran all four leads of one ballast into one tube. I ran this setup for a couple of months with T12 bulbs and I was not very impressed with the gain in light output. To my eye they appeared less than twice as bright as before.

A week ago I switched the T12 bulbs to T8 bulbs. Now the light output is phenomenal. My overdriven twin tube is definitely brighter than my 130 watt power compact fixture!

It does run quite warm, but I did not add any fan or other cooling mechanism (and the ballasts are mounted in the fixture). My water temperature is still constant.

Right now I'm in the planning stages of building my own hood with six of these babies. So, my recommendation, use T8 bulbs, even if they are harder to find in a nice color temperature and go ahead and overdrive them 4x instead of 2x.

Good luck... mario

Disclaimer: I'm not an electrician. Always use any electronic equipment according to the manufacturers instructions. My results might be just dumb luck--- and do not electricute yourself.
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Old 07-13-2003, 04:39 AM   #4
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Argh! I'm kinda pissed right now, I went all over town looking for the equpment needed. I could not find a single store that sold 4x ballasts. I tried Home Depot, Rona and Canadian Tire. At Home Depot it said 4x ballasts are discontinued and the rest only carried Phillips 2x ballasts.

There is good news however. I have, it seems, every imaginable flourescent bulb here in town. So many choices. There's the GE P&A bulb I wanted originally, Sylvannia Aquarium Gro-Lux and the Phillips P&A bulbs. All T12 and 48". There's also tons of T8 bulbs but none made for the aquarium.

Would there be a way to run the needed amount of light, at least 250w, with the 2x ballasts? If not I guess I can make the trip down to the States to pick up a couple. What stores down there carry them? Thanks!
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Old 07-13-2003, 05:51 AM   #5
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You can mail-order the ballasts. Check this link: http://www.1000bulbs.com/shopping/sh...%29+Electronic I'm not sure if shipping to canada is pricey, but it really shouldn't be.

I would still go with a T8 bulb, even though it's not a specific aquarium light. The light output is just so much higher. Find yourself a bulb with a temp of 5000k or 6500k for the (IMO) best look. Phillips makes an excellent bulb (F32T8 TL865 Phillips Alto Plus).

Good luck... mario
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Old 07-13-2003, 01:13 PM   #6
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Baller,

It would help if you would put a location in your profile. hrun0815, Baller lives in Canada. So mail ordering from a US outlet is going to cost him big time.

I would just go with 2X and use more bulbs. There is not a lot of difference between 2X and 4X in terms of light output. It's the law of diminishing returns. At 4X you will get much shorter bulb life and much more heat.
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Old 07-13-2003, 07:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baller
Would there be a way to run the needed amount of light, at least 250w, with the 2x ballasts?
Instead of using one 4x ballast for two bulbs you should get the same result using a 2x ballast for each bulb... of course you would then need four instead of 2 ballasts.

I noticed my HD is out of them for a while already too... hope they are not discontinued.
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Old 07-14-2003, 07:39 AM   #8
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Went through a round of stores again, with still no luck on 4x ballasts. But I did find a great deal on 2x flouresent light fixtures for $15. So maybe I won't have to OD. I can get 3 of these along with 6 GE P&A bulbs for only $75! Pretty good deal. So the tank would be slightly less then 2wpg at 240w. However I don't know if they are magnetic or electric ballasts, or does this even matter if I'm not ODing.

Bye!
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Old 07-14-2003, 12:46 PM   #9
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It does matter. Standard fixtures with magnetic ballasts tend to under-drive the lights. And at the price you are paying they are magnetic ballasts.

I will also tell you that while shop lights do manage to get some light into the tank they are not an ideal solution for lighting. It's not how many watts you have over the tank but how many watts you manage to get into the tank. And shop lights at their very best might manage to get 50% of the light into the tank. But I firmly believe that most of them get no more than 25-30 of the light into the tank. Remember by their very nature shop lights are intended to be a very diffuse light source. They are made to light fairly large areas. I once had two shop lights over a 55 gallon tank. That should have been 160 watts of light. I replaced the shop lights with a 2X55 watt kit from AH Supply and ended up with much more usable light in the tank at only 110 watts.
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Old 07-14-2003, 07:22 PM   #10
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Dang, that sucks

I'm not sure if this will fix that problem but I'll give it a try. I plan to hang the lights from the ceiling using thin but strong wire. And then I'll drill holes through the canopy just big enough to fit the wires in. I'll hang the lights in the canopy and paint it glossy white on the inside. The canopy is fully enclosed. Hopefully the light will be trapped and the only way for it to come out is through the tank. But if they're underpowered does that still mean I won't get 240w from 6 bulbs even if I trap it?

If this won't work I'll just use 3 2x ballasts with 6 bulbs. My only concern is the wiring, I don't wanna electrocute myself! ops: But since I won't OD I hope the chances of that will be slimmer. 8)

Bye!

Oops, forgot to ask! What's the best formation to hang the lights? The tank is 72 inches long so I can place all directly in the middle with a foot of space between them and each side of the tank. Or should I alternate them like one will be all the way to the left, the next all the way to the right and etc.

Bye! (For real)
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Old 07-14-2003, 09:45 PM   #11
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Just a suggestion, as I have a 6 foot long tank myself.. Have you considered using VHO bulbs? After looking at the cost of running multiple ballasts to do ODNO lighting on my tank I found it was actually more expensive to do that then simply use 160 watt VHO bulbs....

Just a thought.. its a lot easier that way too....
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Old 07-15-2003, 12:12 AM   #12
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Do NOT buy those crappy ass P&A bulbs....
In a jam and out of curiosity I tried them and they are absolutely terrible.

The colors are terrible and they basically killed all my plants in a matter of 3 weeks. I through my 9 month old overdriven Zoo-Med bulbs back in that were due for replacement and had some recovery but its been very slow.

Those bulbs BLOW ! (IMO)
I am a huge fan of the Zoo Med line of bulbs for flourescents and have had very good growth with them.... I guess you get what you pay for.
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Old 07-15-2003, 12:28 AM   #13
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Baller, you know anyone that lives south of the border? If so then order a couple of 96 watt kits from AH supply, drive down and pick them up, or have your friend drive them up to you.
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Old 07-15-2003, 08:06 AM   #14
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Unfortunately, it would be hard for me to go down to the States, I can't even drive yet. ops:

VHO looks nice but seems to be real pricey. If I buy 2 shoplights with 6 bulbs the total is only $75. If I use ballasts the price would actually be more expensive at $105. Remember, these are Canadian prices.

Tomorow I'm gonna build a small hood for my 20g so I can experiment with different bulbs.

Bye!
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Old 07-15-2003, 06:14 PM   #15
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Baller, I am canadian too, and My VHO setup was cheaper then that.

6 foot 160 watt bulb was $20
Fullham Workhorse 7 Ballast was $60

Just a thought.... You have to factor in your cost of bulb replacement over the year to get a clear idea of the total cost of ownership as well...
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