Are all Watts created equal? - The Planted Tank Forum
Old 07-09-2010, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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Are all Watts created equal?

With respect to determining the right amount of light for an aquarium, does a 10W incandescent = a 10W CFL = a 10W fluorescent = a 10W halogen? If not, why, and is there an approximate conversion?
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:54 PM
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In terms of energy usage, absolutely.

In terms of light output, absolutely not. Why, well because they incandescents and fluorescents emit light in entirely different ways.

You can use an approximate number of 4:1 for converting fluorescent and incandescent light.

So a 60W incandescent or halogen bulbs equals about 15W of fluorescent light output.

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Old 07-09-2010, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
In terms of energy usage, absolutely.

In terms of light output, absolutely not. Why, well because they incandescents and fluorescents emit light in entirely different ways.

You can use an approximate number of 4:1 for converting fluorescent and incandescent light.

So a 60W incandescent or halogen bulbs equals about 15W of fluorescent light output.
Thanks for answering my question. Now, does fluroescent and compact fluorescent have the same light output?
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by agdavis View Post
Thanks for answering my question. Now, does fluroescent and compact fluorescent have the same light output?
Nope.

I suggest you spend some time reading through some threads in the lighting forum, and especially some of Hoppy's threads where he measures and compares the actual PAR on various fixture types.

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Old 07-10-2010, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by agdavis View Post
Thanks for answering my question. Now, does fluroescent and compact fluorescent have the same light output?
Yes and no. If you compare lamps of the same length and wattage, the light output will be comparable, although different spectra will make some bulbs seem brighter than others. Slimmer bulbs like T5's will appear brighter than fatter ones like T12's, because the light is distributed over a larger area.

Then there's the shape. A linear bulb can be more efficient in getting light into the aquarium than a spiral bulb that throws half of its light onto itself (called "restrike").

And then there's what plants think... Like Laura said, PAR plays a role too when comparing bulbs.

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Old 07-10-2010, 12:13 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Yes and no. If you compare lamps of the same length and wattage, the light output will be comparable, although different spectra will make some bulbs seem brighter than others. Slimmer bulbs like T5's will appear brighter than fatter ones like T12's, because the light is distributed over a larger area.

Then there's the shape. A linear bulb can be more efficient in getting light into the aquarium than a spiral bulb that throws half of its light onto itself (called "restrike").

And then there's what plants think... Like Laura said, PAR plays a role too when comparing bulbs.
Ok thanks, now last question -- can you equate fluorescent and halogen? If not, which one produces more light?
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:27 AM
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Incandescent and halogen bulbs are similar in their inefficiencies.

Like I said earlier...

Incandescent = Halogen use (very approximately) four times the wattage for the light output of a fluorescent.

If you are thinking about Metal Halide/HQI lights, they are comparable to fluorescents.

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Old 07-10-2010, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Incandescent and halogen bulbs are similar in their inefficiencies.

Like I said earlier...

Incandescent = Halogen use (very approximately) four times the wattage for the light output of a fluorescent.

If you are thinking about Metal Halide/HQI lights, they are comparable to fluorescents.
I see. So conversely, I would assume that fluorsecents put out much less heat than both incandescent and halogen?
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:38 AM
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To produce the same light output? Absolutely.

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Old 07-10-2010, 12:40 AM
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I am going to ask a quick question (sorry for thread jacking!) but could someone actually grow plants using an incandescent fixture/bulb?

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Old 07-10-2010, 12:58 AM
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But of course... waste of energy, and/or lots of heat to deal with, but you sure could. Guess how they did planted tanks before fluorescents became widespread.

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Old 07-10-2010, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Wasserpest View Post
Guess how they did planted tanks before fluorescents became widespread.

LOL -> I have an old fish book from the 50's and in the lighting section it recommends you lower the incandescant bulbs into the water thus prolonging the life of the bulb... try that now a days.
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:15 AM
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I don't think that would work... water temps would go through the roof. Well maybe with really low wattage bulbs.

A long time ago I actually had a planted tank with those little 20W Halogen spotlights.

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Old 07-11-2010, 02:58 AM
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Originally Posted by JakeJ View Post
I am going to ask a quick question (sorry for thread jacking!) but could someone actually grow plants using an incandescent fixture/bulb?
Before about 1960, incandescent fixtures were about all you had, and if you look at books from that time period, they had some good looking planted tanks. Even after that, incandescent fixtures were still common.

Oddly enough, when fluorescent fixtures were generally available, they used "grow lux" bulbs, which made the fish look good, but was exactly the wrong spectrum for aquarium plants. This almost killed the planted tank side of the hobby.
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