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Old 06-10-2009, 09:21 PM   #1
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DIY CFL Retrofit For 55g

I recently retrofitted my new 55g marine tank with CFL lamps to replace the 34w stock lights it had in it. It took about an hour and about $30. I put 8 14w CLF lamps in it, but i am not happy with the color as it is very yellow. I did, however, find CLF lamps at HD that are 5000k. I will be trying those out in the next day or two. Here is how it worked:

I was using the stock hood that came with the walmart 55g tank - it is actually 2 separate hoods. I took out the lights, ballasts, and plastic that was holding it in there and acting as a reflector. All that was left was the on/off switch.

I purchased 8 outlet to socket adapters. These are the things that allow you to screw in a bulb and plug it straight into a wall: HD Link For The Adapters
8 CFL lamps - I bought the 14 watt ones, but after putting them in I see that I should be able to fit larger, more powerful ones. I'm going to try that in the next few days. Hopefully the 30w ones will fit for a total of 320 watts. Here are the ones I got: HD Link For The Bulbs
I also used a little bit of 16ga electrical wire, probably $2 worth.

After everything from inside the hoods were removed, I drilled 4 1 1/8" holes on the back sides of each of the hoods. This size hole allowed me to put the lamp in the inside of the hood, and the outlet to socket adapters on the outside. When you screw the lamp into the adapter, it holds itself in place via the pressure between the bulb and the adapter. This works because the hole is just big enough to fit the base of the lamp through (the threaded part), but the adapter will not fit through. The plastic from the hood is sandwiched between the bulb and the adapter - no glue or fasteners needed.

Once all the holes were drilled and the lamps screwed into the adapters in place, all I had to do was connect all of the plugs of the adapters in paralled with each other with my 16ga wire and some electrical tape. The outlet prongs on the backs of the adapters had holes so it was easy to secure the wire. Once all wired together, the switch was wired to the first bulb.
I forgot to pick up some reflective tape while I was at HD, so I havent put that in yet. At the moment the inside of the hood is just black and sucking up a lot of light. I am anxious to see how much brighter it will be with the reflective tape.

Here are some post-construction pics. Like I said, i dont like the color of the light, and there is no reflector but that will be fixed soon hopefully. I'm also going to figure out something to cover up all the electrical stuff in the back.





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Old 06-10-2009, 11:57 PM   #2
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Try tinfoil for a quick reflector, cheap and easy to replace (instead of cleaning).
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:25 AM   #3
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That is true. I may give it a shot
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Old 06-11-2009, 01:47 AM   #4
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Get a 5000k bulb, heres what 1 85w 5000k CFL did to my 30g hex

as far as reflectors, go to home depot and get step flashing, its L shaped aluminum but it thin and you can bend it make it work, there only 32 cents each.
before

after
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:05 AM   #5
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how hot do those bulbs get? are the bulbs against the plastic? just making sure you dont have a fire hazard going on there?
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:21 AM   #6
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Surprisingly, they actually don't get very hot at all. I wondered the same thing, but they run pretty cool. I like the 5000k bulb much better, I will definitely be getting those. The flashing looks like a great idea as well.
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:35 AM   #7
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what are you planning on keeping in there?
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:16 PM   #8
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looks like a major fire and electrical hazard to me.
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FishEggs View Post
looks like a major fire and electrical hazard to me.
Yeah it does look a little clustered, and the electrical tape doesn't help. You should clean that up using some heat shrink or something more water proof and permanent, as far as everything else just keep an eye on everything and inspect it well after long uses
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