$20 extremely easy, no-wiring, DIY nano lighting system - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 04:44 AM Thread Starter
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$20 extremely easy, no-wiring, DIY nano lighting system

Here's my latest project. It was super easy to do and cost next to nothing.
This works great for nano tanks. Recently Home Depot came out with a 6500k spiral bulb, either 13w or 15w option, so I knew it was feasible to use that bulb for a building project. Cheap, works great for plants, intense lighting. Some light is lost due to weird shape of spiral bulbs causing restrike, but can be partly compensated with a good reflector.








For canopy, items required:
Some particle board and wood panels
Some wood glue, some nails + screws
Optional: Paint

Lighting system:Two 13w compact fluorescent spiral bulbs, 6500k (I bought at Home Depot, 6 for $20, so 20/6x2 = $6-7)
Extension cord ($5)
Plug-in socket, medium base ($3.28 + tax, you can substitute one with a dial switch as an extra feature. It costs more and I already use a timer, so no point)
Twin light socket, medium base ($3.58 + tax)

Reflectors:
Some sheet metal ($3-5, I bought a metal air duct part and use the material)
Extra: some mylar sheeting (usually bought in bulk, but you can find it inside those shiny helium ballons or the inside of a chips bag.

Add it up, it should cost you about $20-30.

Basically, build a canopy, cut a hole in the back to fit the plug-in socket through. Build a reflector, glue some mylar sheeting on to make it shiny (you can substitute mylar with white gloss paint).

Screw in the 2-way light socket into the plug-in light socket, screw in the bulbs into the 2-way light socket.

Plug into to extension cord and there you have it, 26w of nice light.

If this doesn't work, you can always buy a Home Depot full spectrum power compact desk lamp.

Edit: I also forgot to include the fact that there is no wiring invovled at all will be a big plus for those who aren't comfortable messing with electrical wiring.
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 07:05 AM
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Nice setup. I think I might make a trip over to the Home Despot tomorrow to find some of these fabled 6500K spirals, I would love to find some of them for my 5 gal.

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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 02:32 PM
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I'll tell you from experience that those 6500k Spirals work Great! I have 2 on my 20 Gallon tank, with 2 - 20 Watt Flouros & the Spirlas thow off more light IMO.

Good job! That will work great I bet!
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 02:55 PM
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This was my DIY CFL fixture back when I had my cichlid tank. I used a 6" PVC pipe ripped in half. Was a fun little project.









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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 04:05 PM
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Some thing like this is even simpler, just plug it in, and it reflects more light. It can be found at Wal-Mart for $10. Just clamp it on to something or fasten it to your canopy.

reflector: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...13&pcatid=6513

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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 05:21 PM
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bulbs

I have seen 26 watt versions of that bulb why didn't you use 2 of those?
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wawawang View Post
I have seen 26 watt versions of that bulb why didn't you use 2 of those?
Well I didn't use the 26w (or is it 27w) version for a couple of reasons.

1. If I use it, I can only use one as two of them would be too much light.
2. If I use only 1, then light doesn't get distributed evenly throughout the tank.
3. The bulb is larger, so you would need a deeper canopy, and a bigger reflector. All this increase in size just makes it look bulkier.
4. The bigger size of the spiral bulb would actually emit less % of light than a 13 watt bulb because of the spiral's weird shape, restrike would be more of a factor.
5. If I use 2x 13w instead, it's more effective for the same amount of watts. Just my $0.02.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ummyeah View Post
Some thing like this is even simpler, just plug it in, and it reflects more light. It can be found at Wal-Mart for $10. Just clamp it on to something or fasten it to your canopy.

reflector: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...13&pcatid=6513
I use a 27w bulb on my nano 2.5g, using something similar to that wal-mart light fixture. It's not as effective because the spiral bulb is pointed downwards, where a lot of the light isn't even directed at the tank. So even if you are technically putting 27 "watts" of light into the tank, much less is used in practice. The light focus isn't that great unless you have it higher from the tank. But once you go higher, only some light is focused on the tank.

Something like this:
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 09:57 PM
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Well I went to hope depot today, they FINALLY have these bulbs. I bought the adapters you used and set this up over my 5 gal test tank for growing glosso emersed. Although my canopy is made out of a piece of cardboard, yours is much much better.

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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-18-2008, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colinthebassist View Post
Well I went to hope depot today, they FINALLY have these bulbs. I bought the adapters you used and set this up over my 5 gal test tank for growing glosso emersed. Although my canopy is made out of a piece of cardboard, yours is much much better.
Haha my canopy has pretty shoddy craftsmanship. For some reason, I measured 12 inches long instead of 16 inches long when cutting the pieces. I had to redo everything and the 2nd time around. I got lazy and just wanted to finish it as fast as possible.

Nice to know that it works for you as well! Just wondering, was it hard to build?
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-19-2008, 12:03 AM
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Not hard to do at all. I just used the lid from a cardboard box I found in my basement. Cut a whole in one side of the lid, stuck in the extension cord and plugged in the adaptors and bulbs. I used scotch tape though to keep the bulbs from hangin low onto my saran wrap. Its so ghetto I don't want to post a picture!

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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-19-2008, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by gmccreedy View Post
This was my DIY CFL fixture back when I had my cichlid tank. I used a 6" PVC pipe ripped in half. Was a fun little project.






Are those strip bulbs in your canopy black lights?

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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-19-2008, 12:12 AM
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Cold Cathode lights, you just need a power transformer to run them. They are for computers.


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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-19-2008, 12:34 AM
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Cold Cathode lights, you just need a power transformer to run them. They are for computers.
You using them for moon lights?


(this totally turned into a thread jack)

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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-19-2008, 03:15 AM
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are those reflectors as good as one of these http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...PDQ&lpage=none

with mylar in it?
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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old 02-20-2008, 06:52 AM Thread Starter
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are those reflectors as good as one of these http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...PDQ&lpage=none

with mylar in it?
Which reflectors are you comparing it to?

As I mentioned, the problem with the reflector that has a parabolic shape as opposed to cylindrical shape is that it doesn't spread the light as evenly.

I have tried this myself, my 2.5 uses a parabolic reflector like the one in your link, with the bulb pointed down. I added mylar to it (see signature for 2.5 for more pictures) and it did help a great deal though.

And also because of the weird shape of the spiral bulb, you are better off having the bulb face horizontal as opposed to point downwards as more light on the top half of the bulb facing away from the water will get reflected back down.
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