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I want more light without spending any money.

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Carissa, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Here's my setup now -

    32g tank with stock hood, which has two T8 bulbs (2'). This is only enough to give me about 40 watts of light. A lot of light seems to be being wasted by either hitting the inside of the front or back of the hood (which is black) or is being reflected out onto the wall behind the tank. Is there any way I can get more of this light to be reflected back into the tank? Or is there something cheap that I can do to install more bulbs without destroying my hood, especially on the two ends of the tank which are being neglected?
     
  2. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    I can't see enough details about the hood to know what you could do, but, for sure, it can't be done without spending money. Obviously AH Supply comes to mind first, but a 55 watt kit would cost $45 plus $18 for the bulb, or $63 total plus shipping. That would end up being the most satisfactory, and doesn't require destroying the hood to install it.

    If you take a couple of good photos of the hood underside, with the bulbs turned off we might see a cheaper way to do this.
     
  3. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    I have about 40 watts now and I probably don't want more than 60 - 70 total. I wonder if I could hook up 2 x 13watts, one on each end of the tank where the light is not reaching now? That would give me about what I want for lighting. It's a non-co2 tank. I don't know if there's enough room in the hood for that though. Alternatively, maybe I could find a way to rig up an incandescent fixture and use cf's. The issue with the 13 watt is not only the length but the ballasts too. Shipping on pretty much anything from AH Supply will be at least $20 so if I can rig something up without ordering parts from the US I'll save some $.

    100_1565.jpg

    100_1566.jpg
     
  4. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Overdriving the existing bulbs is probably the cheapest way to get more light. See: ODNO measurements: power consumption vs light output(LONG) - The Planted Tank Forum, for more details. The cost will depend on how available appropriate ballasts are and what they cost there. But, it is done by a lot of people, so it seems to be a good approach.

    I don't see another way to easily cram more bulbs into that hood either.
     
  5. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    Maybe place the tank near a window? Or line the hood with foil/mylar?
    Just some thoughts...I dunno. Walmart has some lights of america t8-20w undercabinet fixtures that are very thin (1-2in wide, about 24" long) that maybe you could fit under your hood. You can even exchange the light and use a timer with these. They also sell 18" 18watt ones also (t5's maybe?) They only cost like 7 dollars. Maybe something to look at also. I dont know if they would be good sitting over open water though.

    -Mike B-
     
  6. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    I heard that foil is more of a diffuser than a reflector. But anything would be better than the black that's on it now.
     
  7. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Does anyone know anything about ballasts? I was reading up on that site about overdriving your lights and it sounds interesting, but the ballast that I have in my hood is just like this little cylindrical thing that screws in. Or maybe that's the starter. I guess I don't know much about it, I've wired in flourescent lights before for houses but not with little cylinders like this.

    So just to make sure, the bulbs I have are 24", so they would be F17T8's? (I know they're T8's) Also would I be able to get one ballast that is supposed to drive 4 F17T8's and then just hook two wires to each end of each bulb, thus giving me double the current on each bulb?
     
  8. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Fulham - Ballasts - is a wiring diagram for a Fulham Workhorse 33 ballast for 4 17 watt T8 bulbs.

    Fulham WH33-120-C Workhorse 33 Electronic Ballast 120V Cube Case - ProLighting.com is the website for ordering them in the US. I can't see any Google reference for purchasing them in any other country though.

    As I understand overdriving fluorescent bulbs you do just use a 4 bulb ballast with two wires to each of two bulbs, but I have never tried this. The little screw in device is the starter for a magnetic ballast. You would remove and discard both the starter and the magnetic ballast. Install the electronic ballast in place of the two, and wire it per the diagram.
     
  9. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Got it. I found a ballast on ebay for $22 including shipping so this could work out very cheaply for me. After much ado I took apart my hood (boy they really don't want you to get into it...hot glue hell) and found the actual ballasts. It would be an easy seamless solution. I think I need to fashion some different reflectors though that actually go around the whole bulb. Can't wait to try this!
     
  10. FacePlanted

    FacePlanted Guru Class Expert

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    Good luck! Glad you found your solution!:)

    -Mike B-
     
  11. VaughnH

    VaughnH Lifetime Charter Member
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    Please let us know how this worked out. I just got a 10 gallon tank to experiment with, and I am thinking about overdriving its single 15 watt bulb. This is something new for me too.
     
  12. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    No problem. Right now I'm just amazed that I can possibly double my wattage or at least get 1/3 more for $22 and a little wiring skill. I will update once I get it done. I think what I will do is take a picture of the tank with the current setup and write down my exact camera exposure, and do the same exact exposure again after I put in the new ballast. This would be an easy way to see if it puts out more light.
     
  13. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Background

    Maybe some type of dark background would help? I see you have none, and all the light just goes out the back of the tank to the wall.

    Also, I know Home depot sells roof mtl that is flexible and shiny. Perhaps you can line the inside of the hood with this? You should definitely try to get some type of reflective material up there as it would help a lot.

    Best of luck!
     
  14. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Yes, I noticed that about the light reflecting out too. I would think that a light color on the background would do better than dark, as dark will tend to absorb light rather than reflect it into the tank. But, a white background doesn't look the greatest either :)

    Good idea about the metal, maybe I have something in the garage already. :)
     
  15. Carissa

    Carissa Guru Class Expert

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    Well I did it! Check out my site for pictures of the results and a step by step walkthrough. I am very happy with the results, it definitely increased my lighting and I only did the 2x overdriving.

    http://beginneraquarist.petfish.net click on DIY Blog at the top

    New reflectors will probably be my next project.
     
  16. raun

    raun Junior Poster

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    Single light reflectors should give you a noticable increase in output. PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) doesn't come up in the planted tank arena too much, but it's a big topic for the reef keeping community. Basically better reflectors = more light entering the tank. I really like icecap reflectors on my reef tank and use them with my PC bulbs for my planted tank. Take some reasurements - you may be able to get a T5 icecap reflector around your bulbs.
     
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