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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I have been thinking about retrofitting the lights on my eclipse 12 so that I can grow some higher light plants. I am a poor college student : ) so I don't have much money at all. What do you guys think my best options are?
My aquarium currently has 13w for 12 gallons, so that's pretty sucky. I found a retrofit kit here: http://www.hellolights.com/13wretrokit.html What do you think? Bad/good/not enough light, etc. Would I be able to make my own kit from stuff from Home Depot or Walmart? What is the best deal? Also, How would I go about installing this in my aquarium?

Any help is really appreciated! Thanks.
 

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Both your existing light and the retrofit are 13W. Are you replacing your existing light, or do you have room to add another?

Quite a few people have successfully driven fluorescent lights at up to 4x rated power for additional light. The technique is called ODNO and you'll find lots of info if you search for that term.

I've also introduced the idea of using the ballasts from those little screw-in spiral fluorescents that are made to replace regular incandescents. For example, you can use a 23W ballast on your 13W light. These lights are available cheap (less than $10) or even free if you already have one that's burned out or is starting to get old. Might be worth a look if you are comfortable with some simple electrical work and making a sealed enclosure for the ballast. Details here.
 

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I just finished retro-fitting mine and went the same wattage as you want to. I will post some pics later to show off/ let you see if you want to go the same way.
 

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Took off the reflectors for the pics.





It is amazing what you can do with a dremel tool

Ignore the brown wire, it goes to the bar light

Direct link to pic
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Discussion Starter #5
Zach - Your pictures aren't showing up for some reason.

Darkcobra - With the retrofit, I was planning on squeezing that in along with the stuff that's already in there (if it would fit). Also, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by ODNO. I read the posts from the link you provided. I know very little about electricity. Is the ballast part of the hood or part of the bulb? Would I need to buy an new bulb made for aquariums or just a regular bulb? I guess I'm just really confused : ) Maybe if you could dumb down the concept for me at first, then maybe I would be able to understand the complexeties of it.
Thanks for all of your help so far!
 

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I added direct links
 

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No problem. :)

The bulb is the part that actually produces the light.

The ballast is the electronics that converts normal power from your plug to the high-voltage the bulb needs to operate. Typically built into a little black box, with wires running from it to the light, and it's mounted somewhere in your hood.

Many aquarists find they need more light, but don't have room for additional standard bulbs in their hood, don't want to pay for more expensive high-output bulbs, or find it difficult to mount a different size or kind of bulb. That's where ODNO offers an alternative.

ODNO is taking a ballast designed for *more than one bulb*, and wiring two or more of the outputs together to drive a *single bulb*. This feeds more power to the bulb, and increases the brightness. The advantage is that you get more light from the bulbs you already have, just by changing the ballasts.

As for my idea, that involves recycling the ballast from spiral lights, like these. These replace standard light bulbs, and have a fluorescent bulb and a tiny ballast built into one unit. When the light burns out, you normally throw away the whole thing. Or if you're me, you crack it open, take out the ballast, and see what you can do with it. :) The link I showed you demonstrates how you can take a ballast from a 23W spiral light, hook it to a 15W bulb, and get 23W of light from it. The only catch - since you've taken the ballast out of its original protective casing, you must mount or re-case it in such a way that will not come in contact with water or be a shock hazard.

I made no assumptions about your level of comfort with electrical work when I replied, I only listed some other options. You should ultimately go with what you're comfortable with.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks so much! That makes so much more sense now : ) Let me make sure I got it right. I would need one of the spiral lights like the ones in the link. I would then take that apart to get the ballast (like in the pictures from the first link). Then I would use the bulb that I already have in my hood, and remove its ballast, replacing it with the one from the higher wattage bulb. I would then remount that in my hood, making sure that it is all waterproof. Is that right, more or less?
 

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OR you could just go to ahsupply.com and order a 13*2 light kit or go to Home Depot and try the electronics department for the pieces you need.
Z
 

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Which way did you decide to go?
 
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