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Old 03-07-2007, 02:49 AM   #1
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compact flourescent or T5 HO?

Okay, so I know everyone here's a big fan of AH Supply, and their stuff DOES look great. But we're building a canopy for a 40 gallon regular, which is 36" long, and with AH Supply it looks like we're limited to one 96W CF bulb. Or two 96W bulbs. Which seems like overkill since I'm looking at doing a lightly to moderately planted tank...?

At hellolights.com they have a T5HO retrofit kit with two 39W bulbs. Would that be better for my 40 gallon tank than the single 96W bulb? And would I have more replacement bulb options in the future with the T5s or the compact flourescents?

Finally, if I DO get a single bulb setup, should I place it in the front of the canopy or the rear? The tank is about 15 inches deep (front to back, actual depth/height is a little under 18 inches) and we're building the canopy so the front half of the "box" flips up to rest on the rear half. Obviously I'd like the light on the rear half for convenience, but I don't want backlit or hard-to-see fish!

Thanks guys!
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Old 03-07-2007, 05:56 AM   #2
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T5HO is a much brighter light than the compact flourescents and I believe less energy consuming as well and a lot of bulb options. They generally light out over a broader area and penetrate deeper, but with an 18 inch tall tank, depth isn't much and issue. The power compact lights are still good and I think the 2 bulb fixture would be great for your tank. Not as many bulb options. So...in my opinion, either or. I don't know the cost difference between the two, but if the T5HO is relatively the same in price I'd get it, if it were me. On the other hand, if its a lot more money, I don't think you need to spend the extra cash on it and get the two bulb PC. Just my opinion.

HTH
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Old 03-07-2007, 02:19 PM   #3
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Actually, the price is almost identical between a single 96WPC with bulb and the 2x36WT5HO with bulbs.

Of course, as someone on another site pointed out, I could actually get 2 36W PC setups in a row under one 34.5" reflector at AH Supply... so I could do a "single" 72WPC as well.

So confusing!

-Julie
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Old 03-07-2007, 02:47 PM   #4
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If that's the case, I'd go with with the T5HO personally. You can change them up with different bulb selections easier than a PC light (and cheaper too). And plus, you get more bang for your buck with T5. Of course, the PC will work just fine too, so I suppose it's all up to you!
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Old 03-07-2007, 09:57 PM   #5
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PC replacement bulbs are easier to get at most LFS. Although there are some that are starting to carry T-5's, but only the NO style. So you may want to weigh that in your decision. If you don't mind having bulbs shipped, go with the T5HO.

I have a 40g breeder (similar to yours) and I'm currently using a 2x96w JBJ retrofit kit. Granted I only have the 96w 10,000k bulb that came with the kit running, I'm getting nice growth out of everything.

With T5HO you'll want to go with a reflector PER bulb. This way you maximize their effectiveness. Some of the less expensive fixtures use one reflector for the entire bulb range. Nothing wrong with that but you are losing efficiency. Plus with T5HO bulbs it will be easier to mix and match colors. With the 96w PC's you have to pick one color or you'll be running two different color bulbs (192 retina burning watts) and be in the high light/high-tech region.

The choice is yours! If I had to do it over (and had the money), I'd use T5HO bulbs.
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:21 PM   #6
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Okay, so I'm now leaning towards the T5 HO retrofit kit from Hellolights.com with two 39W 10,000k TRU bulbs for $110 plus shipping. (http://www.hellolights.com/362x39wt5hor.html)

I really don't want to get into the CO2/high-light stuff. Would I still be pushing it with 78W on a 40gallon? I want to stay low-light, low-tech, low-maintenance as much as possible. Anyone know if it's possible to use a lower-wattage T5 bulb in this fixture if it turns out to be too much light?

THANKS guys, this has been a big help!

---EDIT---

Argh. I need to stop web-surfing.

So I started to get nervous about having TOO much light in my 40 gallon and having algae go nuts in it, and so then I found a regular fluorescent (finally learned how to spell it!) retrofit kit by Coralife. Obviously their T12 bulbs are cheaper than compact fluorescents or T5s would be....

HELP!!!
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Old 03-08-2007, 12:47 AM   #7
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If you are into best cost/light output, you should look into T8's. <Yet another choice!!!>

For 4' tanks, you can get daylight (6700K) T8 tubes at HD & the like for $4 or so, can't beat that for price. Although they have 36" T8's, I have not seen daylight ones, so I can't say how much those are.

In tests I've read, the T8's are at a par on light/W with the pc's, and about 30% more efficient than T12's (so you save on electrcity too). There is even a T8 that rivals T5HO's in output.

As long as you have an electronic ballast, you can run either T8 or T12's (you might have to change endcaps, although I have seen ones that can take both), so that would be something to look for.

I don't know if you can run NOT5's in a T5HO fixture. It all depends on the ballast. An electronic load sensing ballast *should* be able to handle that, but you'd have to read the details specs. to know for sure. A simplier soultion in a 2 bulb fixture is simply to turn off one of the bulb.

BTW, I don't think 78W/40gal will get you into high light territory. I run about the same (128W of T8's = 2wpg) and I am staying low-tech. The plants certainly appear to do better than my previous setup of 80W of T12.
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Old 03-08-2007, 12:11 PM   #8
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Using shop lights isn't a horrible idea either. Takes 10-15 minutes to hack one down to 36" and glue the endcaps into place. I actually started my 40g breeder out with four 25w T-8's but wanted more light.

That is the simplest solution. If you ever wanted more light you could just overdrive one of the fixtures. The bulbs you can get really cheap off eBay (I paid $5 each with shipping for Zoo-Med brand)
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