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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just picked up a 24 inch dual bulb fluorescent shop light from lowes. I got two t8 18 watt ge aquarium lights. The light didn't come with a power cord, just a ballast with wiring. I have white and black wires not connected, I'm assuming I use these to wire the power. How do I wire it to an ac plug? Doesn't need an on off switch, I will just hook it to my timer.
 

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Buy a plug at a hardware store, then you can connect the wires using a screwdriver. With a three prong plug, a third wire (ground) connects to the ballast housing. The white wire (neutral) connects to the wider pin of the plug.

Alternatively, if you know how to solder and have some plugs laying around from discarded appliances and such, you can solder a plug with a length of cable to the ballast wires. Or you could use wire nuts to connect the wires, but that's a bit icky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I got it all connected, but it doesn't look as bright as two 18 watt bulbs should be. I looked at the pin connectors and it only has one wire going to each with no jumper. What should I do?

Here is the configuration of my light.

 

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If you are talking about the GE Plants and Aquarium bulbs, if I remember right, they are not that great. They are supposed to be a plant grow type bulb, but they look very dim. So that could be a factor. I'd recommend some "daylight" type bulbs.

Also, these are T8 bulbs, right? A two foot 18W bulb isn't going to be very bright. You might be thinking PC bulbs, or even T5HO.

There is a way to get more light out of dim bulbs, called overdriving, but most likely you don't have the right ballast for that.

You can bridge the contacts on your endcaps, again that depends on the ballast, but I don't think it will make any difference in brightness. Worth a try though.
 

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Wasserpest is correct in suggesting bridging the sockets.
Most modern sockets are already bridged (a wire connecting both pins on the socket).

One blue wire should connect to both pins on one end of one lamp. The other blue wire should connect to both pins on the same end of the second lamp. The red wire should connect to both pins on both lamps at the other end. And the ground wire which isn't shown, should connect to the metal of the ballast or the metal of the light fixture.

Presuming your light fixture came with a properly rated ballast, your tubes are at the high end for that ballast. What "I" would do is boost the output by replacing the ballast with one rated for two 32 watt tubes. That's over driving. I can attest to the fact that it will be brighter. Bulb life will be shorter, but I can't tell you how much as that depends on the bulb quality.

Or, take the whole thing back to Lowes and order a good two tube T5 HO light fixture and good bulbs. Based on past posts, Catalina is the low end of decent fixtures. Skip eBay and the cheapish fixtures. Some of those are -not- worth the money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Where could I find a good T5 HO light fixture?
 

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