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Lighting a 55gal, spiral C/F bulbs?

1924 Views 15 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  cody6766
I'm thinking of building a canopy for my 55 gal that I may eventually want to plant. I'm on a broke ass college budget and like to build things, so I'm trying to keep it cheap and DIY.

So, my idea:

enclosed canopy about 4-6" tall
surface mount bulb fixtures placed along the front to hold the screw-in c/f bulbs that work so well on my little tanks. I'm thinking about 6 spaced evenly down the length of the tank. I'd use 20-30w bulbs in each base (depends on plants, co2 availability, etc).

will this work in a 55gal? I know the wpg rule breaks down in certain cases and total light intensity, not just sum wattage makes a difference, so I wanted to ask before blowing money on a hopeless project.
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I don't see why it wouldn't work. The only thing is the color temps. I am using those 13W replacements for 60W incandescent in every ceiling fan in my house. They light the rooms up much brighter than before. If you used 6 of those bulbs, it would be extremely bright in your tank, especially if you had a decent reflector.

I did a quick search on google, and I couldn’t find too much above the 6000K range:

If you could figure out a reflector, ballast, etc for the following type of bulb you might be in business:

Good luck and if you decide to try this I would love to know the outcome. I have thought of trying something on a large scale like a 125 G with a homemade reflector built into the canopy using mirrors and angled pieces of wood surrounding the lights. I don’t think it would be that hard, but the fixtures might be the show stopper.
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I had no trouble finding 6500k at walmart. They work well on my 10gal, I was just concerned with the wattage vs. actual intensity bit.
one step closer to a full blown yes though. Thanks!
How were you planning on mounting the fixtures? On their side or facing streight down? Do you have any ideas for reflector(s)?
most likely on their sides for space reasons. If there is some overly compelling reason not to I'll reconsider.

I haven't thought much about reflectors. Worst case, I'll paint the inside of the hood gloss white.
If you're feeling sassy, you might want to consider building a reflector. I was thinking of using pieces of wood angled in an obtuse way with mirrors glued to the wood. Like ( \_/ ) except upside down. I don't think it would be that big of a deal to make. You would get a lot more light out of a setup like that than painting the reflector white.
That's a T5 reflector... wouldn't work with spiral compact fluorescents.

Looking at initial cost, the spirals might well be the way to go. If you are concerned about efficiency, I'd suggest overdriving two 4ft T8 bulbs. Not much more expensive, but restrike-wise, much better.
just get one of these - it can't be any worse than what you're planning :icon_roll

this seller honors emailed requests to replace the blue bulb with a second white one for free.

look at my 10g crayfish tank. there I managed with a 30w 6500k spiral bulb, bulb socket and wire, and a reflector cone for around $25 shipped, so there is no way I could do something similar with a 4' long tank for less than $75-$100, and I would still need to make a 10" high hood enclosure with a fan, only to not have enough light penetration to get through 18" of water.

that spiral bulb idea you are proposing is silly as you would mostly light up the long glass sides of your tank thus creating a GDA nightmare.

for a 4' long tank, you can either build a hood (that won't be free and will probably look like crap) and use a 4' T5HO kit (endcap ballast bulbs reflector wiring) costing well over $120 shipped , or take your chances on that pretty finished Chinese fixture for only $70 shipped; which everyone alleges has inferior ballast and bulbs, there in lies the risk of buying one. the same seller has a 4 bulb unit for $100, but I suspect the bulbs are too close together to offer much reflector efficiency.
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That is a screaming deal. I just wonder about longevity of the ballast and if it has reflectors. Nice find Spypet. Even if the seller wouldn't swap out the blue bulb (as stated) the cost of replacing is still a great deal for a two bulb HO T5at any length.
Just an FYI, you can't mount spiral cfl upside down. Read the fine print, they'll burn out, it is a hazard. Even flat is iffy, depends on the bulb (The Wal Mart ones - GE, right? - allow horizontal if I recall correctly).

Were it me, I'd get a budget fixture like that link above first, or a couple of shop lights with metal repair tape or mylar for reflective material or something. Spirals don't punch very deep, and a 55 is a whole lot deeper than little tanks.

You are going to spend what, $100 making it with spirals. The link above is even less than the spiral DIY, and here is a much better grade fixture for $125, only a few bucks more.

Also comes with bulbs, and they will also gladly swap out color temps if called.
Just an FYI, you can't mount spiral cfl upside down. Read the fine print,
they'll burn out, it is a hazard. Even flat is iffy, depends on the bulb.
that's weird... I've got a house full of high hats and all the spirals are socket
side up. perhaps the warning you saw pertained to a specific brand of bulb.
oh, and our electrical contracting company mounts THOUSENDS of such bulbs
both horizontally and socket side up. Please link us to this so called hazard.

Good new everyone, that ebaY seller got back to me with the measurements between each tube.
it seems the 2 bulb units have 1/2" distance, while the 4 bulb units only have 3/16" distance, so the
4 bulb fixtures are clearly narrower than they should be, and probably suffer from wasteful restrike.

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That's a T5 reflector... wouldn't work with spiral compact fluorescents.QUOTE]

Wasserpest - While I am sure you probably know more than me, why wouldn't the reflector that I mentioned work. Cody is talking about a custom setup with basic spiral CFs. That reflector, while it says it is for T5s, seems like it could be easily modified to accept what Cody wants to do. It would just have to be Macgyvered a little bit.
Spypet, I don't have the packaging anymore.

I had this exact same discussion (and I was also doubting it) a few months ago on another forum. I happened to have the package from a Wal Mart right next to me at that time. It said not to enclose them in recessed fixtures, not to expose to water, and not to invert them past flat on the warnings of the package. I can't link to the package back :) - and they aren't all like that, but the general purpose ones I bought were.

In the same way that they make specific ones for the shaking that is in ceiling fans, etc.... they are not all the same.
Hey, I was wondering what kind of plants do you think I would be able to grow with that fixture from ebay? I don't really want to dish out too much on lighting. I might get a 110 ahsupply if it's considered low, but i want to grow hc and some other stuff, maybe medium plants. thanks
thanks for the help guys. Scratch that idea, I guess. It's okay though, I have a severum that shreds plants for the shear joy of seeing the floating peices.
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