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Old 03-25-2011, 09:08 AM   #1
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Step 1. Choosing The Right Light

I saw this kit discussed in a couple of threads here at AA and decided after visiting AH Supply's website, it was the right lighting for my 37 gallon tall, planted display tank.

Here's what I installed;

1 - P/N - 30551SL - 1 x 55 watt Strip Light Kit,

1 - P/N - 11556 - 55 Watt 6700K Compact Bulb

The three reasons I chose this kit were important to me:

1.) I don't like the "leggy" open lights so popular today as the light bleed and reflection off the aquariums glass top is very intrusive. I wanted to maintain the clean look the aquarium kits original light hood presented (sans junky electronics), as our DT is a prominent feature in our living room.

2.) I'm a big DIY fan and since the 37g kits junky light was essentially free (75% off the aquarium kit at PetSmart) and collecting dust in my closet, I figure "why not"?

3.) Last and most important reason, cost. For approximately $70.00 (including bulb & shipping) I was getting a quality compact florescent bulb and IMHO, their sound theory and design claiming a 162% light output into the tank for their product sold me. I'm getting an estimated 89 watts ((55x0.62=34.1)+55=89.1), with a CF bulb sporting an estimated life span of 2+ years and no cathode decay that normal florescent tubes experience.

Http://www.ahsupply.com/36-55w.htm

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Old 03-25-2011, 09:12 AM   #2
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Step 2. Get It Ordered:

The website was easy to navigate, informative and ordering was easy. My kit shipped the next day via FedEx ground and the shipping costs were reasonable. They use ground service and it took some time to arrive (6 days), but overall a reasonable time frame.

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Old 03-25-2011, 09:23 AM   #3
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Step 3.) Getting To Work:

The first thing I notice was the excellent packing they used. Some members here at AA have complained (repeatedly?) about receiving broken products, or the wrong order all together from other suppliers and I was thankful to be spared the headache.

As you can see, their liberal use of stickers indicating fragile contents paid off.

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Old 03-25-2011, 09:35 AM   #4
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Step 3.1.) Getting To Work:

With the comprehensive parts list, I was able to ID each part and it's function, so there was no question of getting half way through the build and finding an essential part missing. I recommend always making this the first step in any project like this.

(For some reason my droid camera didn't save the parts pic, but go to the website if you want to see what they send.)

Pulling the guts from the shell of my light strip was a snap, 4 screws, clipping the wire to the switch (to use with kit )and removal of the power cord took all of 5 minutes.

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Old 03-25-2011, 09:41 AM   #5
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Step 3.2.) Getting To Work:

I wanted the ballast mounted on the hood, since whenever preforming any PWC, maintenance, rescaping, etc., I prefer to have the light out of my way. The instructions give detailed point by point steps and links to pics on their website which is helpful, since no wiring diagram is supplied.

Mounting the ballast near the center was necessary, since I have two HOB filters at either end of the tank. The cord and switch were relocated to one end of the hood for the same issue. Since the hood is longer than the reflector, some wiring connections are exposed, but hidden under the hood (fixit plan is in the works).

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Old 03-25-2011, 10:06 AM   #6
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Step 3.3.) Getting To Work:

Assembly is straight forward, although I chose to make some of my own modifications to suit my needs and expectations. Such as soldering some connections and heat shrink tubing at critical points. (Pics 1-4)

I did have to modify the hood a bit, as 2 screw towers for mounting the original reflector were causing the new one a fair amount of distortion. (Pic 5)

The only serious issue I have with their design is the bulb plugs into an unsupported socket (fixit undecided).

PS Pic 6 shows mods for mounting ballast (use for reference in step 3.2)

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Old 03-25-2011, 10:33 AM   #7
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Final thoughts:

Overall I'm very pleased with my purchase and given the variety of light hoods on the market they've developed a quality kit that anybody handy with basic tools and has a DIY attitude can easily convert their light.

Pros:
Well built product, quality materials, good design
Easy ordering, good packaging, reasonable shipping costs
Good instructions (overall)

Cons:
No customer service/tech support regarding product questions except by email (2-3 day response time)
No FAQ page on website
No wiring diagram with instructions (a must in my book)
Floating socket

The only question I asked myself. Would I do it again? Heck yes, since I have 2 more junky kit light strips waiting in the wings.

Pic 1/Final product. Pic 2/Before. Pic 3/After

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Old 03-25-2011, 10:48 PM   #8
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Nice work! You can definitely tell there's a difference in the lighting. I can't wait to see how your plants do w/ the upgrade! You will definitely need to post pics of them in a few weeks.
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McLumpy
Nice work! You can definitely tell there's a difference in the lighting. I can't wait to see how your plants do w/ the upgrade! You will definitely need to post pics of them in a few weeks.
Yes, it's amazing the difference I see in the 2 lights.

Our Moors just laid eggs and in the process tore up the tank lol. I have a thread in the breeding section with pics of the eggs on moss balls. I have to put everything on hold till I get that set up and settled. My daughter is so excited. hehehe

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Old 03-25-2011, 11:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Limpet View Post
Yes, it's amazing the difference I see in the 2 lights.

Our Moors just laid eggs and in the process tore up the tank lol. I have a thread in the breeding section with pics of the eggs on moss balls. I have to put everything on hold till I get that set up and settled. My daughter is so excited. hehehe

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Very cool! I'll check out the pics.
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