Reflector on DIY lighting project - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2007, 03:06 AM Thread Starter
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Reflector on DIY lighting project

I've been thinking about making my own light hood, and have been looking around the net at various DIY projects, but I've noticed that reflection of the light is rarely mentioned, and when it is, the use of aluminum foil is recommended. One article did say that DIY hoods get only about 65% of the light into the tank that their store-bought counterparts do.

It seems to me there must be a better way. Aren't there mirrors available that are made of plastic? I think I've seen inexpensive mirrors meant to hang on the backs of doors. Aren't those plastic? Could they be cut to fit a DIY hood?

What about using a glass cutter to cut mirrors to fit. I've never cut glass before. Is it difficult?

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Tanks: 2 low tech nano tanks, 2.5 gal each

Lighting: 9 watt LED, 6500k

Plants: Wisteria, Pogostemon stelatus octopus, ludgwiga repens, ludwiga needle leaf, cabomba furcata, rotala rotundifolia, bacapo caroliniana, Pygmy chain sword, Anubius bernatali nana, Dwarf sag, Java moss
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2007, 03:20 AM
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i'd go to a local lighting shop to see if they had any wrecked parabolic mirroring material that has been damaged, there should be plenty to work with, to cut, curve and so on. just remnember that finger prints are a pain to remove from them

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2007, 03:29 AM
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aluminum foil is a terrible choice for a reflector. plain white paint does a better job of reflecting light.

glass is easy . . just score and snap.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2007, 10:31 AM
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2007, 03:46 PM
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http://www.ahsupply.com

Entire retrofits, or just reflectors

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-15-2007, 08:53 PM
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The reflector will depend on the type of bulb your using. Is it the 65W in your sig (which I assume is a PC)? If so then look at ahsupply like mentioned above. The cheap alternative is painting the inside of your hood white. A flat mirror will only increase the light slightly, you not going to get 100% efficiency with flat mirror. The best will be parabolic/multi faceted.


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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2007, 04:51 PM
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I have been thinking about reflectors also.. My husband works in a metal shop that uses mirror finsh stainless steel would a piece of this bent slightly work for a reflector?
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-16-2007, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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It sounds like it would. I am going to order my reflector from AH supply, I think, Their prices on reflectors seem reasonable. Not sure, but I think their reflectors are just polished metal.

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Tanks: 2 low tech nano tanks, 2.5 gal each

Lighting: 9 watt LED, 6500k

Plants: Wisteria, Pogostemon stelatus octopus, ludgwiga repens, ludwiga needle leaf, cabomba furcata, rotala rotundifolia, bacapo caroliniana, Pygmy chain sword, Anubius bernatali nana, Dwarf sag, Java moss
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2007, 02:57 PM
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Mirrors, like those door mirrors, are made out of glass. I have cut glass tiles before and used them as reflectors. Reflects light well, and isn't difficult to do, but it's a lot of work, and for bigger tanks, it gets very heavy very soon.

The polished/specular aluminum reflectors sold by AHS are great for PC and T8 bulbs. For T5 bulbs, there are other sources for good reflectors as well.

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I've noticed that reflection of the light is rarely mentioned, and when it is, the use of aluminum foil is recommended. One article did say that DIY hoods get only about 65% of the light into the tank that their store-bought counterparts do.
You must have been looking at the wrong places.


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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2007, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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All right. Here's my plan.

I have looked at various fluorescent light strips in Home Depot and Lowe's. Their lengths in combination with their wattages are not really practical for planted aquarium sizes/lighting needs. Also, their reflectors are just not very reflective.

So I thought maybe I would build my own lights, and use them in combination with reflectors I buy from AH Supply online.

But this clever plan depends on some electrical-savvy aquarium enthusiast out there knowing exactly what type of ballast, starter, lampholders (sockets) and wiring I would need to buy. The kind fellers in the hardware stores didn't really seem to know, although they did sell such arcane and mysterious parts.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Johnny Relentless, Marina, CA

Tanks: 2 low tech nano tanks, 2.5 gal each

Lighting: 9 watt LED, 6500k

Plants: Wisteria, Pogostemon stelatus octopus, ludgwiga repens, ludwiga needle leaf, cabomba furcata, rotala rotundifolia, bacapo caroliniana, Pygmy chain sword, Anubius bernatali nana, Dwarf sag, Java moss
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2007, 03:20 AM
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I used to work as a sheet metal fabricator and I have often thought of building a reflector from scratch. If you are planning on using sheet metal, your better off getting a shop to do it for you since bending sheet metal accurately and properly requires a break. I also personally wouldn't use mirror finish stainless steel, instead I would use pre-painted steel. It would probably be cheaper than mirror finish stainless and it typically comes with one bright white side while the reverse side is usually another color.

My alternative to the sheet metal is using good one side 1/4" ply wood to construct the shape of the reflector and either painting the inside high gloss white or even attaching mylar to the inside surface. I think if your handy, this is a much better DIY alternative to sheet metal. But I am a carpenter now, so maybe "I" just think plywood is easier.

BTW tin foil doesn't actually reflect light from what I understand, instead it actually does the opposite and diffuses it.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2007, 03:38 AM
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I just built my hood and light last month and set my aquarium up on the Labor day weekend.

I use galvanized sheet metal that were typically use for normal heating and venting vent. One side is shinnier, so use that side as your reflector. I also spary paint it with clear lacquer to keep it shinnier and reflecting. Cost me $30 to have a shop cut and bend it.

I use 3 electronic ballast to power 10 T8 (32 watts) bulbs. Each ballast will power 4 bulbs, except the 2 middle bulbs are OD. I house the 3 ballast in a box under the stand and run wire up to the hood. I use 18 gauge 8 strain sprinkler wires from the ballast to the light bulbs.

Here some pics....HTH.




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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2007, 03:54 AM
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^

FYI Galvanized steel is coated in zinc oxide to prevent corrosion, I know handling it all day leaves a chalky residue on your hands and over time can cause health issues, but I can't foresee any serious issues, I personally would have used a cleaner material though. I would hate to have some of the zinc oxide make it's way in to my aquarium somehow, plus I doubt the coating helps reflect light, instead it may hampers it.

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