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Old 02-01-2011, 02:38 PM   #11
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Moved to General Hardware and equipment discussion.
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Old 02-01-2011, 03:14 PM   #12
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Moved to General Hardware and equipment discussion.
Sorry about that I didn't realize that I was supposed to post that in the general hardware discussion forum as I was looking specifically for advice on reef lighting.
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Old 02-02-2011, 04:19 AM   #13
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I have a 36" tank with a 30" fixture (reused from an old tank). It has 4 T5s and 2 150 Watt Halide.

I got it for 500 bucks from www.catalinaaquarium.com I called the place and asked for a custom fixture to my specs with nightlights and individual circuits. Really affordable, and great after the purchase service.

How long have you had this light? I'm looking at the 48" with 2 150w MH. I'm still leaning towards the Current USA 6x54w T5 just because of the reputation, however, I think if I can get a MH system for a little over $100 more, I might go with that. My tank is a 55g and about 16-18" from surface to sandbed.
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:10 AM   #14
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Just because T5 is all the latest rage people are bashing metal halides. It's a crock. With halides you can have ANY thing in your tank you want. If run properly they don't heat your water that significantly. In the Winter when tank temps are cold you don't need a heater. So you don;t use the electricity, and it's a LOT, that a large heater uses. Plus, each T5 bulb costs you on average of 20 to 25 bucks a piece and have to be changed out once a year so add that up. A top of the line radium halide bulb sets you back tops 80 bucks. Use an electronic ballast with your halides and they are pretty energy efficent. I use two 250 watters and 1 400 watt on my 220. The 400 runs 10 am to 8pm and the two 250's from 1pm to 6 pm. They use only two kilowatts per day (I used a meter) which costs me a total of 35 cents a day to run my lighting. I don't have to question whether I can keep ANY corals or clams, I know I can with this lighting. I think people are simply taken in by sleek looking T5 fixtures. Want to pay for looks or keep your corals healthy? I'm a little tired of all this rage over T5's and metal halide bashing.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:44 AM   #15
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Just because T5 is all the latest rage people are bashing metal halides. It's a crock. With halides you can have ANY thing in your tank you want. If run properly they don't heat your water that significantly. In the Winter when tank temps are cold you don't need a heater. So you don;t use the electricity, and it's a LOT, that a large heater uses. Plus, each T5 bulb costs you on average of 20 to 25 bucks a piece and have to be changed out once a year so add that up. A top of the line radium halide bulb sets you back tops 80 bucks. Use an electronic ballast with your halides and they are pretty energy efficent. I use two 250 watters and 1 400 watt on my 220. The 400 runs 10 am to 8pm and the two 250's from 1pm to 6 pm. They use only two kilowatts per day (I used a meter) which costs me a total of 35 cents a day to run my lighting. I don't have to question whether I can keep ANY corals or clams, I know I can with this lighting. I think people are simply taken in by sleek looking T5 fixtures. Want to pay for looks or keep your corals healthy? I'm a little tired of all this rage over T5's and metal halide bashing.

Woah Woah Woah, calm down, buddy. No one is saying that MH sucks and is outdated. Truth is, if they weren't so darn expensive, more (if not most) people would get them, including myself. A good T5 system runs about $400 whereas a MH costs $700+.

Most people (from reading this and other forums) change their MH bulbs each year. Let's say you change 6 T5 bulbs every 6 months, you'll spend $240/yr... MH would be $160/yr for 2 MH bulbs(yea, cheaper), but when you add 2 T5 atinics (to be changed out every 6 months) in the equation you come up with the same price in bulb replacement. An even better MH system will have 4 T5s, therefore making it more expensive when it come to bulb replacement.

As for energy consumption, you really don't have an argument to say that MH is more efficient than T5s. I know you didn't say that, but it sounded as if you were trying to push it.

Personally, I would rather not worry about what I can and cannot keep in my tank, but that's one of the trade offs offered when choosing T5 or MH.

Finally, MH do heat the water and the room they reside; I really don't think chillers would be so popular if this weren't the case. A buddy of mine had a 100 gallon with a Hamilton MH 2x250 system and he had to get a chiller, even with it ceiling mounted about 16-20" from the surface (the protective plastic on the warped as well because of the heat).


So am I saying MH is dinosauric? No. Are T5s the better buy for reef enthusiasts who don't have deep pockets or can't afford to drop $700 in 1 payment? Yes.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:45 AM   #16
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oh, and LED is the latest rage
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:14 AM   #17
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In the past month I researched extensively lighting as I was looking into led, T5 and halides. I wanted to make sure I was most efficent with the three halides I was running. Metal Halides have to be done right to be cost efficent. First, you can't rush rush out and buy and expensive metal halide fixture. What did was build a 12" tall canopy for my tank. It can be built simply and inexpensively using diy plans from the net and lumber that's on sale. Total cost of my canopy was about 65 dollars. Then I purchased retrofit reflectors and sockets from the net. There are ALWAYS parts on sale used on the net. All 3 of my electronic ballasts, 2 ice caps and 1 Lumentek cost me a total of 225. My reflectors and sockets cost total 125. Most important aspect are bulbs. Using a 20k radium bulb, high quality, in the 400 watt fixture along with 2 14k 250 watts on either end NO actinic supplementation is needed. I run T5's from 7 am to 10 am, then the 400 watt halide kicks on at 10 am. At 1pm the two 250's kick on and the T5's kick off. At 6pm the 250's kick off and the T5's kick on. At 8pm the 400 watt goes off. I was mainly concerned with my electric bill. I purchased a Killowatt meter which when your appliance is plugged into it tells you exactly the Kw's being used and the cost of using that appliance per year. Amazingly, the BIGGEST expense electricity wise, a HEATER. So many choose to IGNORE this factor. All the concern is on chillers. As I stated, in the Winter I do not need a heater. My T5 units are two 36 inch 4 bulb units. That's 312 watts of T5 and the meter showed a very considerable draw when plugged into the T5's.
You're right, LED is all the rage. They have a LONG way to go. In order to get the penetration I need on a 220 I would need SIX 3 to 400 units and even then I wouldn't get the necessary penetration on a 30" deep tank.

The T5 unit I would need would be a 14 39 watt bulb unit that would set me back 1200 dollars. Add the cost of replacing the bulbs and there is NO way they are less expensive then halides.

NEVER said halides are more efficent then T5's. You "assume" and you know what they say about assuming. What I'm saying is add in ALL the other factors and halides end up being "the" choice if usded with thought behind them.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:55 AM   #18
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You have to admit that you were trying to imply it. I could say anything and then say I meant it differently. Also, I thought we were talking about fixtures, not DIY. Of course, in this hobby, most anything you do yourself is going to be a lot cheaper than buying it online from a reputable manufacturer. I would love to be able to build my own lighting system and know it's going to work like Current USA or Hamilton, but I'm no electrician, and to most amateurs, the disclaimers in most DIY instructions clearly state "WARNING; MAY CAUSE FIRE, INJURY, AND EVEN DEATH".

I have never attempted to configure electrical wiring to work in a standard household outlet (just speaker wire). If the instructions you used are beginner friendly, would you post them? I know I'm not the only one that would invest some money as long as the quality rivaled brand named lights.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:44 PM   #19
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I built a canopy, not lights. Retrofit metal halides require you to screw them into your canopy and plug them in. We can all plug a cord into an outlet, can't we? The halide kits come with a reflector, pre-wired socket and a ballast. Just plugs. Only thing missing is a fancy aluminum housing because you don't need it, your canopy is your housing. I don't think you'll have to worry about burning down your house if you can plug into an outlet.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:38 PM   #20
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you can keep anything you want under halides or T5s, providing they are the right fixtures. i know a guy that keeps sps 2/3 of the way down and clams on the sand bed in a 30" deep tank with a 14 bulb (7 per side) t5 ho unit.
it's just a matter of personal preference.
as far as heat, i used halides on a tank and then switched to T5s because i wanted to tweak the colors a bit (t5s offer a wider range of bulb colors) and my tank temp didn't drop a single degree. i do have to say that my 8 x 54 watt t-5ho fixture put out more PAR than the 250 watt halide setup i had previously though.

metal halide bulbs have to be replaced between 8 -14 months, and i would say the same thing for T5s. T5s cover the entire tank much better than halides- the PAR is highest with halides directly under the lamp. as you move outward away from the bulb the intensity greatly diminishes. this won't happen with tubes across the entire tank. you'll have even PAR throughout.


the only advantage halides have over t-5s is that you can use them in a smaller area, like a cube tank. oh, and the famous shimmer of course.

i don't have enough experience with LEDs to comment on them, but i have read that there is a possibility that LEDs lose PAR over time also, and those bulbs cannot be easily and cheaply replaced.
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