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Old 04-13-2004, 11:46 PM   #1
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Cheap prices on MH's

Found these guys in a magazine then checked out thier site http://aquaticlight.com/index.html

They have some pretty cheap prices on MH's, should I be leary about thier products?? I want to retrofit 2x400watt MH's with my 2x96watt PC's, I already have a flat piece of aluminum polished on one side for my reflector. Just need to purchase ballasts, bases, bulbs, and fans.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Rich
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Old 04-13-2004, 11:55 PM   #2
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Old 04-14-2004, 10:14 AM   #3
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If anyone has any feedback on those lights, I'd like to hear it too...
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Old 04-14-2004, 10:24 AM   #4
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I don't like their bulb choices. Although I have never used one, I have not heard good things about the Sunburst 12k bulbs. You won't like the 5500k bulbs...way too yellow. Also, I think you would be ahead to go with electronic ballasts.
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Old 04-14-2004, 10:44 AM   #5
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Ok, sorry to hijack this thread, but I'm curious...

What's the difference between electronic, magnetic and electromagnetic ballasts?
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Old 04-14-2004, 11:40 AM   #6
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Well...I hate to sound ignorant (I'm really good at it though...don't you think?), but I don't know the differences as far as the individual components. Biggen could probably answer that. The electronics start faster, run cooler, and use a bit less power.
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Old 04-14-2004, 12:25 PM   #7
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Without going into a science lesson, ballasts come in two flavors: magnetic and electronic.

Both types are used with HID's (Metal Halide, Mercury Vapor, High Pressure Sodium, etc...) and fluorescent bulbs. Although VHO, HO, and T5 bulbs can only be used with electronic ballasts and NOT magnetics.

To tell you the truth, I am not really positive how an electronic ballast works. I know a magnetic ballast act basically like an inductor in that wire is wrapped around a copper core. This allows the ballast to regulate (add resistance) the flow of current through the bulb. It does this because the gas inside the bulb actually has less resistance than an ordinary wire conductor. Without the ballast, the current flowing in the bulb, that allows it to produce light, would continue to increase and the bulb would probably explode or burn out. I imagine an electronic ballast does the exact same thing but uses circuitry instead of the inductor style.

Depending on the ballast, the starter may be internal or not. All electronics have internal starters. Most fluorescent magnetics do as well. I would doubt you would ever use a magnetic ballast for aquaria use that does not have an internal starter. HID magnetics use a capacitor to store electrical current and "startup" the bulb. The capacitor is normally mounted right next to the ballast.

As Logan pointed out, the electronic ballasts tend to start faster (although for HID bulbs, it doesn't matter much since the bulb still has to "warm up" which takes a few minutes), run cooler, and use a tad less power. One other nice thing about the electronics is that you can run all types of configurations of bulb and wattage with the same ballast.

For example, I have a Fulham Workhorse 5 electronic ballast I use to run my 2X55w PC's in my canopy. The Workhorse 5 can run just about any number of VHO, HO, T5, and NO bulbs I throw at it as long as I keep the maximum working wattage of the bulbs under 120w. I would not have this luxury with a magnetic ballast as I would have to buy a specific ballast to run a specific bulb. If I wanted to change the bulb to another type down the road, I would also have to change the magnetic ballast out.

I am a fan of electronic ballast for all fluorescent bulbs. This is because they are lightweight, relatively small, and run cool. They are perfect for mounting in a canopy.

For HID bulbs, I actually prefer the magnetics. This is because I like to remote mount these ballasts so I really don't need a cool running ballast since it isn't anywhere near the canopy. The other reason I like the HID magnetics is simply for the cost. Magnetic ballasts are typically less than half the price of electronics and you can find them in just about any electrical supply warehouse. Some people will claim that magnetic ballast will not run as long as electronics, and while I think they are probably right, I could buy at least 3 (probably 4 from my supply house) 250w Howard magnetic ballasts for the price of one Icecap 250w electronic ballast from any aquarium store. I would bet money that the Icecap won't live longer than all 3.

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Old 04-14-2004, 03:03 PM   #8
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Biggen, Are you buying the MH magnetic ballasts without an enclosure and putting them together yourself, or are you buying a pre-packed setup? I was thinking about going the DIY route but I'm a little concerned about what type of box I would need to put the raw ballast in to avoid a fire hazard. Also, someone made a post in the last two months with a 4 or 6 foot long retro package that had 2 MH and 4 VHO's ... anyone remeber who the vendor was ... it was a really nice setup.
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Old 04-14-2004, 04:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Biggen, Are you buying the MH magnetic ballasts without an enclosure and putting them together yourself, or are you buying a pre-packed setup?
I just buy the ballast buy itself. I use a Howard Industry 250w Multi-tap ballast. These go for around $50 at the local electrical supply store. Much cheaper to buy just the ballast instead of buying the "pre-built" setup.

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I was thinking about going the DIY route but I'm a little concerned about what type of box I would need to put the raw ballast in to avoid a fire hazard.
You need to go to your local electrical supply store and purchase a Junction Box (J-Box). It is a steel box that is used to house electrical components, equipment, etc... There are all different sizes and shapes. Just make sure you get one big enough to house the ballast and capacitor with enough room to spare for wires and breathing room.

I want to caution you here that you will need some basic electrical wiring knowledge to setup the ballast inside the box (properly grounded of course) and then to wire it to the light. It is not difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not very self explanatory either. If you do decide to go this route, don't hesitate to post any questions you may have.

If you are hesitant about DIY, then by all means, go ahead and spend the extra money buying a complete package. No amount of saved money is worth risking your safety and health.

Quote:
Also, someone made a post in the last two months with a 4 or 6 foot long retro package that had 2 MH and 4 VHO's ... anyone remeber who the vendor was ... it was a really nice setup.
Don't remember this one. Anyone else?
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Old 04-14-2004, 06:46 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by IMPERATORFAN
Also, someone made a post in the last two months with a 4 or 6 foot long retro package that had 2 MH and 4 VHO's ... anyone remeber who the vendor was ... it was a really nice setup.
I don't know who might have made the post, but I know of a place that makes very affordable setups like what you are talking about.

http://www.aquariumlight.com/

We have a canopy from them that we have been really happy with.
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