Help Me Try To Make DIY Lights - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-18-2006, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Help Me Try To Make DIY Lights

I considered going to ahsupply.com for my light fixtures once, but decided to make my own because I'm trying to find a cheaper, but I guess less effective way in which to light up my 40 gallon tank. I read the post on the second page here of a guy that showed how he went to office depot and purchased shoplights. I tried that yesturday and the thing is...the bulbs only contain more watts upon size. Like a 24 will just be 20 watts and it can't handle a higher one. I'm trying to make it so that I can do that minimum of 2wpg stuff I hear everyone here talks about. However, the shop lights only hold (2) 40watt bulbs and they're way too long for my 36" long fish tank.

Can anyone here show me how to make my own light fixture that can hold high powered lightbulbs and can fit my tank and also that I can connect a reflector or something to it, like where can I get it at...stuff like that? I guess I'm doing this because I know later on it'll come in handy when I get more fish tanks and stuff. I just want to know what kind of light fixtures and light bulbs do I have to look for...stuff like that. Thanks for everything...hope someone replies.

So far I just have a basic hood with a single 20 watt flour. bulb on it. I'm going to try to look more into this...but thanks beforehand...

40 gallon- 99.9% Flourite. Medium Planted With Shrimps. 18-20 dif kind of plants and mosses. AH 96 kit 2.4 wpg. CO2 currently DIY. Flourish ferts for now.

10 gal- empty, waiting to be planted. 2wpg

10 gal- has plants waiting to be planted. Red ramshorns. 2wpg. (both tanks need MAJOR redoing/upgrade)

Current objectives: Digital Camera (completed), Pressurized CO2, 60 gal planted tank, finish setup with other tanks, and doing all this without becoming homeless.
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 01:45 AM
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Nathan, you're a bit behind the 8 ball in terms of getting shop lights to fit over a 36" tank, as they're eiher 24" or 48", and you're prefectly in the middle.

You can get different bulbs (36" I think are about 30w) and overdrive them using your existing ballasts and things but you'll be cutting up your chassis to get everything to fit, not impossible, (i've done it) but hard without the proper tools.

Now that's just taking into account normal shop lighting. If you want to go for higher power you really need to build something to carry the buld, so you're looking at modifying your hood from here on in.

Another way to go is to just add more lights of the same ilk into your hood, should you wanna do it cheaply. Just an option


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Like drops of fertiliser into the tank, so are the days of our CO2...
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 02:20 AM Thread Starter
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Is there any fixture that is able for each bulb to hold about 50 or so watts each. So that with two bulbs I can squeeze in a min. of about 100 watts. You know similar light fixtures as those found at ahsupply but without the reflector...cause I think I can do that part for myself.

40 gallon- 99.9% Flourite. Medium Planted With Shrimps. 18-20 dif kind of plants and mosses. AH 96 kit 2.4 wpg. CO2 currently DIY. Flourish ferts for now.

10 gal- empty, waiting to be planted. 2wpg

10 gal- has plants waiting to be planted. Red ramshorns. 2wpg. (both tanks need MAJOR redoing/upgrade)

Current objectives: Digital Camera (completed), Pressurized CO2, 60 gal planted tank, finish setup with other tanks, and doing all this without becoming homeless.
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 02:49 AM
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you mean a double end cap?

For holding the bulbs?

Acutally back up a bit. what type of bulb are you planning to use?


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Like drops of fertiliser into the tank, so are the days of our CO2...
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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 03:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathan515
Is there any fixture that is able for each bulb to hold about 50 or so watts each. So that with two bulbs I can squeeze in a min. of about 100 watts. You know similar light fixtures as those found at ahsupply but without the reflector...cause I think I can do that part for myself.

Yes there is. And it's called an AH Supply 55 watt kit.

Normal Output fluorescent bulbs generally have an output of 10 watts per foot.

And if you can build a reflector that equals the AH Supply reflectors for LESS than the cost then you can make a LOT of money.
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 03:24 AM Thread Starter
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I guess any kind as long as I can squeeze 100-150 watts into my 40 gallon. Hopefully the long bulb kind so that it can go evenly throughout the tank.

Hey Rex I'll talk to you later about the regulator. And I guess I am trying to find a way to build good reflectors...I don't know if it is as good but I believe it should be cheaper. But I don't know I'm trying to give it a try. Gimme a year and I bet i'll know a lot. I guess I just have to care about what I do.

The one sold at AHsupply...those light fixtures...can they be bought outside...just the light fixtures...no reflectors...nothing. Cause I want something that can hold a lot of power, is small enough to fit my tank, and the rest I will eventually figure out.
Nathan

40 gallon- 99.9% Flourite. Medium Planted With Shrimps. 18-20 dif kind of plants and mosses. AH 96 kit 2.4 wpg. CO2 currently DIY. Flourish ferts for now.

10 gal- empty, waiting to be planted. 2wpg

10 gal- has plants waiting to be planted. Red ramshorns. 2wpg. (both tanks need MAJOR redoing/upgrade)

Current objectives: Digital Camera (completed), Pressurized CO2, 60 gal planted tank, finish setup with other tanks, and doing all this without becoming homeless.
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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 03:33 AM
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Well you have a 40 gallon tank. So the 96 watt kit would be best. It's 36" long. You can buy a ballast, it's no secret what AH Supply uses. They are Fulham Workhorse. But then you need to find the end caps and some sort of mounting hardware.

It's really hard to beat the fact that with the AH Supply kits they come with everything you need. No trips to the hardware store. No wondering if something is going to work.

Good luck on the reflectors. The material that AH Supply uses is specular aluminum. And it's not cheap. And then you need to be able to shape it without damaging it. A 24" by 48" sheet of specular aluminum runs about $40 including shipping. Figure that the reflector for a 96 watt kit is 3' long and about 7-8" wide. So that means you could get three reflectors from one sheet. That is a cost of about $13 a reflector for just the specular aluminum sheet. Considering that AH Supply sells the reflectors for $20 each they are not making a lot of money here.
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 03:36 AM
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Nathan, two years ago I went thru what you are going thru. I had 30 inch long tank, and wanted to get at least 60 watts of light, with good reflectors. But, I also didn't want to pay AH Supply's prices. I studied the AHS website and decided I could design a reflector as good as theirs, made of wood, with aluminized mylar over it, for three 20 watt bulbs. So, I did so. The problem was that, first of all, the T8 20 watt bulbs were actually 17 watt bulbs. Then, finding aluminized mylar, thick enough to be workable, at a low price, in less than 100 foot lengths, was beyond my abilities. So, at someone's suggestion I found a "space blanket", made of aluminized mylar, cheap. I got it and patted myself on the back.

The end result of this was about three weeks time in my well equipped shop, having fun, but with a result of a 51 watt fixture, with a wrinkled mylar reflector, that immediately started dulling. I kept working at it. Then I found that 30 inch T8 bulbs are very hard to find, especially with high Kelvin ratings, and those that were available were around $6 each, not the $2 I expected.

To stop the tear jerker, I ended up spending just about the cost of AH Supply kits for the lights and reflector, but only had 51 watts, with a poor, but well shaped reflector. After just a few weeks of use I realized how limiting the light was, and how the reflector was deteriorating still further, so I bought a pair of 55 watt AHS kits, thus spending roughly double what I would have spent by going with their kits from the beginning.

But, I'm happy - I had a good time designing and making the fixture, and I now have good lighting. Somewhere in all of that should be a lesson for you.

Hoppy
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 03:47 AM Thread Starter
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Hrm....so maybe I should just purchase it huh?

So if I do purchase it...maybe i'll get the ~100 watt total kit...duel 50s? or should I go for 150 watts...I guess I have to work overtime if I'm planning to get my CO2 regulator, SMS122, lightfixtures, and set up some plant tanks. not to mention get a digicam. Sigh.....oh yeah and fix my car breaks.

hrm...200, 70, 20, 120, 125....wow...gonna be broke for a long time.

Anyways...top question.

40 gallon- 99.9% Flourite. Medium Planted With Shrimps. 18-20 dif kind of plants and mosses. AH 96 kit 2.4 wpg. CO2 currently DIY. Flourish ferts for now.

10 gal- empty, waiting to be planted. 2wpg

10 gal- has plants waiting to be planted. Red ramshorns. 2wpg. (both tanks need MAJOR redoing/upgrade)

Current objectives: Digital Camera (completed), Pressurized CO2, 60 gal planted tank, finish setup with other tanks, and doing all this without becoming homeless.
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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 06:26 AM
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I know someone has suggested it before but reflectors might be worth trying do be built out of chrome model aircraft covering.

It's called monokote, and it's iron on and heat shrink. (fuel, water and good proof too) and light enough to fly.

But we tend to call it money kote, it is expensive but cheaper and easier to work than aluminium.


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Like drops of fertiliser into the tank, so are the days of our CO2...
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post #11 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 01:28 PM
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Nathan.

Stop. Take both hands from the keyboard. Sit on your hands.

Read this till it sinks in.

For a 36" long tank the 96 watt kits are a much better way to light the tank. And with an AH Supply 96 watt kit over what I assume must be a 40 breeder tank you will be able to grow most anything you want.
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post #12 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Grigg
Nathan.

Stop. Take both hands from the keyboard. Sit on your hands.

Read this till it sinks in.

For a 36" long tank the 96 watt kits are a much better way to light the tank. And with an AH Supply 96 watt kit over what I assume must be a 40 breeder tank you will be able to grow most anything you want.
Um...okay lol. Well I know that. I mean thats a bit over 2 wpg. I'm just wondering should go on the safer side...in case it becomes a heavily planted aquarium...and plan for 3 wpg or maybe even 4. So 1 96watt kit right...I was thinking of either getting the 2 96 or 4 54s or whatever that was. What do you think? You think 2 wpg is good enough for even a heavily planted tank? If thats so I'll just get the 1 96 or something.

Later...I'm home today too...no work...since its summer I'll cram next week....tired. I HATE AIR CONDITIONING AND VENTILATION. I like animals....sigh lol.

40 gallon- 99.9% Flourite. Medium Planted With Shrimps. 18-20 dif kind of plants and mosses. AH 96 kit 2.4 wpg. CO2 currently DIY. Flourish ferts for now.

10 gal- empty, waiting to be planted. 2wpg

10 gal- has plants waiting to be planted. Red ramshorns. 2wpg. (both tanks need MAJOR redoing/upgrade)

Current objectives: Digital Camera (completed), Pressurized CO2, 60 gal planted tank, finish setup with other tanks, and doing all this without becoming homeless.
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post #13 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 04:33 PM
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Another good thing about AH Supply kits is their customer service. One of my bulbs broke after less than a month of use. I just shrugged and sent in an order for a replacement, but added a note that I was hoping for longer life than one month. They emailed me immediately that they were shipping a free replacement, and did so very quickly. Great company with great products.

You mentioned being safe by going with more wattage - that is a bit like being safe by crossing the river over a tight rope. Once you get enough light to grow the plants you want, any more makes it more difficult, not easier. And, 2.5 watts per gallon will probably grow just about anything. My 110 watts over 29 gallons is overkill, and it keeps me very busy trying to stay ahead of algae and pruning jobs.

Hoppy
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post #14 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 04:37 PM
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Once you have a handle on the 1x96 watt kit you could purchase another one. But you will be able to grow most any plant you want with a single kit. 2x96 would put you at 4.8 wpg and would require a pressurized CO2 system and having ferts on hand.
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post #15 of 46 (permalink) Old 05-19-2006, 04:58 PM
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I've started the odno shop light route myself. I have a very bright light in my shop to prove it... It was on my aquarium for a couple weeks - but ultimately it did not suite my needs and I stopped before spending more time and money trying to make it into an ahsupply clone.

That said, I am starting down the road again, and keep kicking myself - I know I would be better off just doing it right the first time... (but have already bought the second shop light...

58 gallon oceanic, Kessel 360 tun sun, pressurized co2, eheim pimp #179 - 2217 and diffuser
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