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Old 09-21-2010, 05:54 PM   #1
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Feedback on Lighting idea please?

Hey guys. So, since I've set up the new tank, it's time for a new hood. Here's what I'm planning for light. This is for a planted tank, and I don't necessarily plan on using ALL of them, as I'm not sure how much light I need.

Right now with the bulbs I have, it'd be 6 (or 7) x 12W = 72W over a 20 gallon tank. That's 3.5 W/Gallon. High light right? That said, I might work my way up to that, and only have 4 or so turned on at first to make sure the plants can use the nutrients (ferts) and algae stays under control. Note, this tank will be fertilized heavily when the lighting gets done. Pressurized CO2 and the whole shebang.




Pros:
  • Easy to find/replace bulbs
  • VERY FREAKING easy to wire
  • Can wire it so each one turns on individually, or in small groups
  • CFLs are awesome, I can even fit the BIG MUCHO CFLs in there if I want
  • MUCH cheaper than buying a ballast and finding fluorescents that fit in the hood, or Metal Halide for that matter (Each socket? 1.50, each bulb... couple bucks maybe?)
  • Can even use those CFL spotlight bulbs so I get reflectors too.

Cons:
  • Heat?
  • Electricity + Wood = Fire?
  • ?????

Let me know what you think. I personally think it's a great cheap way to light my tank. The inside of the hood will be painted high gloss white. Oh, and I'll be using the daylight (6700K) CFL bulbs.

EDIT: And I might router in a slot so I can slip in a piece of acrylic or lexan to keep the water from splashing the bulbs. However, since I don't HAVE a router currently, I'd have to do it with a dremel, and I'm not very good at making straight lines with a dremel, so that might not be a good option... lol
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Old 09-21-2010, 07:03 PM   #2
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Another pro, you can find LED strips to add to it for moonlight.

My fiance made me a moon light strip out of blue leds for our 40. Then he made moonlights for our 115s that have a photo sensor so they turn off when the main lights come on.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:53 PM   #3
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Great idea! I also love your hinges...top notch!!! And they also make some 50/50 bulbs too.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:13 PM   #4
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After you have it installed for a while check your water temp. I don't know if it will raise the water temp or not but it doesn't look like you will have any air flow. If there are any problems you can install PC fans in the side for flow.

Do you have a sump or something? I know I have to have a place for my canister intake and return, along with my CO2 tubing and heater... doesn't look like you have any holes cut (at least not yet).
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Old 09-22-2010, 01:04 AM   #5
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doesn't look like you have any holes cut (at least not yet).
Meh, I learned my lesson last time. I left 2 inches at the back of the aquarium for all of the stuff. I'll probably cover it with screen or somethin. :p It's easier to just leave room than to try to cut holes for everything. What happens if you change filters and you have a hood cut out for a specific filter? You're either going to have a big gaping hole, or you'll need to cut another one. It's easier this way.

EDIT: Oh, and I didn't build the hinges. Bought them from Lowes. I think they're called non-something cabinet hinges. Ok maybe I was wrong... Here ya go.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_67157-89973-...ges%26page%3D7

Cool little hinges, make it so that I don't have to dremel out any holes for the regular "Euro" cabinet hinges. They aren't as adjustable as regular "Euro" hinges, but as long as you put them in the right place you're fine. The only adjustment available is the long oval shaped screw holes. lol

And if it gets too hot, fans won't be that hard to install.
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Old 09-22-2010, 01:54 AM   #6
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The CFL's are definitely easy & cheap to wire. However, they are not as efficient as linear T5's - you lose a fair bit of light due to re-strikes. <The spiral at the front is blocking the light from the spirals in the back.> So your 3.5 wpg might not be quite as bright as a "regular" 3.5 wpg fixture. I would guess that you have a medium light set up ATM ... You might have to put in a few more when you go whole hog with CO2, etc. But just watch the plants & they will tell you if the light is enough.

You might consider getting some sort of reflector in there to direct the light downwards - even painting the whole inside white will make a big difference. <Or try some mylar reflective film... BTW, I would not use foil under those fixtures ... since the live wire is directly under the socket, putting foil under them has too much risk of shorting out the wires & causing a fire.> <If you want to wire it to code, each of the socket should be sitting on a octagonal box (use plastic shallow 1/2" ones) and the wires running in Outdoor Plastic sheathed wires (Lomex?) with all joints inside the boxes.>

Another upgrade route is to use linear CFL's. They are getting harder to find, but they are better than the pigtails in light output. <I still see some at the Hardware store but generally for higher W's.> You can mount them horizontally, and with a reflector behind, they put out a ton of light.

Choosing a more efficient way to get light into your tank would decrease the number of bulbs needed, and decrease heat in the hood. But with that many CF's in there, I would consider making some ventilation slots/holes at the top, or maybe even a fan.
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Old 09-22-2010, 09:31 AM   #7
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The CFL's are definitely easy & cheap to wire. However, they are not as efficient as linear T5's - you lose a fair bit of light due to re-strikes. <The spiral at the front is blocking the light from the spirals in the back.> So your 3.5 wpg might not be quite as bright as a "regular" 3.5 wpg fixture. I would guess that you have a medium light set up ATM ... You might ....
Thanks jsoong, just the input I was looking for. I'll look into the linear CFLs. I was already planning on painting the inside white. And hmmm, I should really wire it to code shouldn't I?

Eh, I've seen those linear CFLs. The only problem (if I'm looking at the right ones), is that I can't find a fixture for them. I looked through the whole freaking store. Without buying and taking apart a light that uses that specific bulb, it doesn't seem like I can buy JUST the fixture for it. That's why I chose spirally ones.

What about these type of bulbs? These

The are just CLFs surrounded by a reflector? Would they get more light downward? (I know the ones linked are soft white, but I know they make 6700K ones just like this.)

And hopefully I won't have to add a fan. The fan itself isn't loud, but the sound usually resonates in the whole thing, making it much louder than it actually is...

Quote:
If you want to wire it to code, each of the socket should be sitting on a octagonal box (use plastic shallow 1/2" ones)
Could someone send me a link to these? I've looked through lowes's website and can't seem to find them... I can find any other type of electrical box, but not shallow ones.
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:43 AM   #8
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jsoong means plain old T5 fluorescents, not CFLs. 24" fluorescent shop lights might be difficult to find, but they'd put more light per watt into your tank. Fluorescent spot lights, like the ones your linked to, would direct the light down nicely. You might have problems with shadows if the bulbs are too close to the top of the tank.

I'd also think about venting that hood. I see lots of heat building up in there.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:56 PM   #9
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Actually, I was thinking of CFL's that are made like a linear PC, like these:
Best Place To Buy Inexpensive CFL Light Bulbs – IKEA. | The Good Human
I used to see daylight ones like that at WalMart. Now Ikea seems to be the only one carrying them in town. <That's in Canada, I would expect better selection in the US ... Or you can try a lighting store ... but they are rather more expensive>

There are also different linear ones showing up in the Hardware store ... Those are Power Compacts (they have either 4 pin square or linear ends) ... they need a ballast to work. Those are just like the "plain T-5" BigJim mentioned, but bent in the middle so it is shorter.

I have a few of the shallow boxes kicking around the garage. I use them to surface mount light fixtures in my garage. I have had them for many years ... prob. got them from HD. <Not sure if they still make them ....>

I have those CFL reflector lights in my pot-lights. I am not too impressed ... They do reflect a bit more light than the pigtails, but not that dramatic to my eyes.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:08 PM   #10
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Heres a thought about how you could increase the efficiency of the fixture. If the entire interior of the box had a reflective surface, the light efficiency would be increased, require fewer or less powerful lights. This would decrease the amount of heat to be dissapated and act like a heat sink, thus protecting the wood from excessive heat exposure. Here's one way you could do it.
Take the bare box and spray a light coating of 3M aerosol contact cement to the entire interior. Cut sheets of the heaviest gauge aluminum foil you can find to size, and spray the dull side with the cement. Allow to air dry for at least an hour. The foil will then stick to the surface of the wood solidly.
With the use of fluorescent bulbs you should have plenty of light. In a worst case situation, you may have to vent the box to release heat if it does become an issue, or even add a boxer fan.
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