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Old 03-25-2007, 08:33 PM   #1
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Help with making a DIY canopy....

I went to Lowe's today and priced a bunch of stuff and have a few questions....

1. I was looking at the T-8's and T-12's. The T-8 4' bulbs are 32W and the T-12 4' bulbs are 40W. Which puts out more usable light for the plants? They are the GE F-32 and F-40 bulbs. The F-32's are 5000k and the F40's are either 6500k or 6700k, can't remember which.

2. I was looking at the electronic balasts, and it says to mount the balast about 1/2" from the grounded metal reflector. Any reason for that? I wasn't planning on using any metal reflector, the under side of the canopy is going to be polished mirrors, or I was hoping to use mirrors. But if I have to use metal reflectors, then I will.

3. I was also looking at the bulb holders, as well as the shop light units, and was debating on whether to use the shop light units, or just install holders inside the unit with the mirror top. Any comments on this?

When I get this project started, I'll have some pics. My plans are to build my own stand and canopy, so I can have a matching setup. I am looking at possibly doing it in cedar. It won't be the cedar you usually find in the bottom of drawers that's really red. It's more an off-white with some red in it, and lots of detail in the wood such as knots, etc. Will look nice. And structurally, I plan on using 2x6's for the main framing. So it will be structually very strong.

This is going to be for my 55G first. Then if I get through it ok, then I will plan on one for my 75G, and then my 29G. Then, if I get really crazy, I might sell the setup for the 75G after I create a Dual-75G unit. The lower will be close to the ground, set up with HOB filters, and the upper will be high light under the canopy, and fully planted. And it will have cabinets on both ends as well, for all my fish supplies, etc, as well as canister filter and inline heater and reactor, as well as ph controller if I decide to go back to using it. Also, the canister will be located on one side, and the CO2 bottle on the other side. Either 20lb or 25lb will fit, and completely enclosed. But that's my plans. Gonna try and go as cheap as I can, using wall paneling on the outside of the framework. Real wood, not fake.

Then, if I go and get my 300G wide, will build my own stand and canopy for it as well. Will probably use 4x4's for the structure on it. But this is down the road, no rush now, as I lost my fire eels. So I got more time now.
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Old 03-26-2007, 12:20 PM   #2
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I think that the biggest advantage of T-8s over T-12s is the size. You would be able to fit more T-8s over that 55g than T12's, and probably make up the difference in wattage. I would probably be concerned with the 5000k bulbs in T-8 - although you could probably find something in a higher Kelvin number if you wanted.

I haven't heard of a need to mount a ballast in that orientation, so I don't believe it is an issue. Most of the people who have DIY'ed canopies don't even use a reflector of any sort, so I think you're ok to just mount it without any metal reflectors.

The shop light units really limit you for designing your canopy, plus you have to deal with mounting those inside the unit. If you just use the holders, you gain the extra space inside the canopy and it would be a little cleaner. I would use just the holders, IMO.

Your structural plans sound fine, and I can't wait to see some pics. Good Luck!
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Old 03-26-2007, 04:10 PM   #3
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I built a canopy using 1x6's, with thin wooden shim type strips on the inside for a lip. And some angle brackes at just the right hight to have a drop in hinged cover. Very simple, and looks decent when stained. I also use a 4ft shop light with overdriven T8's 6500K(philips). Love it. The (el cheapo/home depot) shop light fits with maybe a 1/4 inch to spare inside the canopy. I removed the stock ballast and bought a 4x unit, mounted that to the outside of the shope light. Not pretty, but you can't see it inside the canopy.

Grounding the ballast within a 1/2 inch is basically for electrical safety of the light shroud. I can only imagine it has to do with the wire size of the provided ground wire - and to also discourage the mess of additional wiring. As long as you ground it 1/2 inch or 6 inches I cannot imagine it making a difference - especially because any unintended current STILL has to travel the length of the power cord in most cases.

One more thing... If you look at the lumens /lux etc, the T8 is considerably better than the 40W T12...

I don't have any pics in my gallery yet. Only pics from my 'algae days'
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Old 03-26-2007, 10:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frostby
Grounding the ballast within a 1/2 inch is basically for electrical safety of the light shroud. I can only imagine it has to do with the wire size of the provided ground wire - and to also discourage the mess of additional wiring. As long as you ground it 1/2 inch or 6 inches I cannot imagine it making a difference - especially because any unintended current STILL has to travel the length of the power cord in most cases.
Now, if I get this correct, if I just use the holders mounted to the wood canopy, and just use a highly polished mirror behind the bulb, then I don't have anything to worry about because I'm not using a metal reflector, correct? I think I'm catching on. Just want to be sure. Since there's no metal, then there's nothing to worry about for grounding purposes, other than hooking the ballast up correctly and making sure the bulb holders are mounted securely.
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Old 03-27-2007, 10:36 AM   #5
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You are correct. The ballast is grounded to the power cord. If you are not using a metal housing, there is no reason to attach a ground cord to anything.
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Old 03-27-2007, 11:07 AM   #6
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I believe the Ts are best used with individual reflectors.
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Old 03-27-2007, 11:35 AM   #7
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I too would vote for individual reflectors, or maybe double-wides at most. AH-Supply, for example, makes reflectors that do an excellent job of reflecting the light straight down into the tank. I think a mirrored canopy would light up the room, not just the tank (thus wasting light).
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Old 03-27-2007, 12:18 PM   #8
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I went to the AH Supply site, and they only have reflectors for CF bulbs, and the longest one is 34.5" for the 96W setup.
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Old 03-27-2007, 12:33 PM   #9
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I did a google on T5 Reflectors and found some other sites, that might have different lengths...
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Old 03-27-2007, 03:28 PM   #10
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