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Old 07-24-2005, 02:12 PM   #1
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Home depot shop lights

I have just finished assembling a 48 x 18 x 20 deep aquarium, approx 80-90 gallons. I am now in need of somw lighting for it and was wanting to build something ( mainly becasue I have built the whole thing so far and cost) I was wondering if you could use those 48" 2 bulb set ups from Home depot. The ones that cost around 20$ each and have 2 standard flourescent tubes in them. I am going to have Cichlids in this tank with no live plants. so I don;t need them to grow anything, just light the tank.

Any thoughts, or is there something else I can use that is inexpensive yet still pratical.

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Old 07-24-2005, 04:23 PM   #2
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Shop lights will work fine for your purposes and you can get them for as little as $7 :P
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Old 07-24-2005, 05:15 PM   #3
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the shop lights at most will generate about 80watts of total light, after you set up the lighting, you might find it too dimm for your tastes. luckly home depot has a nice return policy. i would suggest you get the 7dollar shop light (un-modied), try it out and see if you like it then modify it, if you need too.

you probably already know this, but you shouldn't run the unit over open water, make sure there is something blocking off the tank from the light.
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:01 AM   #4
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How can you modify it to gain more light, is this where you use 2 ballasts and run the lights in parralel, can it be done with standard shop lights?
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:41 AM   #5
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modifying the lights, is commonly called over driving, where you use a ballast that was intended to power 4 bulbs, and wire it so it only powers 2, the extra voltage/current is sent through the 2 bulbs and they generate more light as a result. do a search on the forum for over driving there has been at least 2 threads that went into good depth about the process.

however it can't be done with a 7 dollar shop light, you need to use a ballast (or fixture) that powers 4 bulbs and that is usually 4 bulbs @ 32watts per bulb, and those ballasts usually run 25-35 bucks, if i remember correctly.
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Old 07-26-2005, 01:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JProx
modifying the lights, is commonly called over driving, where you use a ballast that was intended to power 4 bulbs, and wire it so it only powers 2, the extra voltage/current is sent through the 2 bulbs and they generate more light as a result. do a search on the forum for over driving there has been at least 2 threads that went into good depth about the process.

however it can't be done with a 7 dollar shop light, you need to use a ballast (or fixture) that powers 4 bulbs and that is usually 4 bulbs @ 32watts per bulb, and those ballasts usually run 25-35 bucks, if i remember correctly.
what about buying two shop lights and pulling the ballast from one and adding it to the other?
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Old 07-26-2005, 02:24 PM   #7
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oooh you got me, i totally overlooked that. he said modifying and i instantly thought he meant OD'ing, i am glad i have you watching my back billy.
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Old 07-26-2005, 02:49 PM   #8
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hmm, i was also thinking about this type of thing, but do you hang it up off of the ceiling? because the ones i saw had like open bottoms, and the lights like are lower than the reflecter thingy
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Old 07-26-2005, 04:15 PM   #9
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oooh you got me, i totally overlooked that. he said modifying and i instantly thought he meant OD'ing, i am glad i have you watching my back billy.
Actually I was thinking along the lines of overdriving to.

The typical shop light is a two bulb unit. If he bought two, rewired the existing ballast in one to drive a single bulb, and took the ballast from another and wired it to drive the other bulb in the first unit, he would have an OD two bulb unit...

think it would work?

More importantly, would it be worth the effort?
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Old 07-26-2005, 05:02 PM   #10
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short answer is yes, you can do that, there is always a risk of explosion when the switch is first flipped, but i would tend to think wiring up a 2-bulb ballast to power 1 bulb would be do-able, and mostly a safe endevor. however the ballast in those cheap-o 7 dollar fixtures, are usually magnetic ballasts, and for OD'ing you can't use them as you probably already know. i bought a 7 fixture from walmart a few months ago to replace a dead unit in my laundry room, and sure enough it had a magnetic ballast, but it gets the job done in the laundry room, but it won't work for od'ing.

well od'ing is always worth it, however in this instance its fundamentally flawed. instead of spending 14 bucks (2fixtures) you are going to have to spend 30bucks, plus misc expenses, endcaps, reflector, housing of some kind, etc. but at the end of the day 120 - 160watts of light, isn't to shabby for 30 - 35 bucks either.
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Old 07-26-2005, 05:10 PM   #11
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The magnetic ballasts that come with shoplights cant be used for od'ing.. electrionic ones would need to be bought.. ($7 for the 2-4'bulb ballast, and $20-40 for a 4-4" bulb ballast)
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Old 07-26-2005, 07:43 PM   #12
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krap101 I was thinking of buildong some end plates that would sit on the edgeof the tank at the height I woul need, similar to a hood but with out the full enclosure. I have a lid on the tank now and could just suspend it slightly above the lid. but not resting or hanging from the ceiling. I suppose you could hang it from the ceiling but I think it would look more like a grow op than an aquarium.
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Old 08-23-2005, 09:59 AM   #13
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why don't you just run two of the $7.00 fixtures and four of the 6700K bulbs. that will still give you 160 watts of light safely and spread it over a larger area of the tank.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:31 AM   #14
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because less is more! and people on the diy forums want to squeeze every last watt out of a light we possibly can, and its done with the use of Od'ing. where's the fun and excitement in using 2 seperate fixtures? i know i have to pump out every last Megahert from my cpu and vid card, or i can't sleep at night.

but all joking aside, thats probably the simplest and easiest solution out there, however unless you're dealing with a large tank (55gallons and up) you will be rather limited by the width of the tank, and the amount of bulbs one can use as a result. if 2 bulbs take up 1/2 the width of your tank, 4 bulbs will take up almost every inch and make feeding difficult, as well as some other daily fish routines. also magnetic ballasts do shorten bulb life, generate hums, run hotter, and use (on average) over 60% more power than ellectronic ballasts. and if you are going to use electronic ballasts to skip over the above problems, why not spend 4-5 bucks more and join the od'ing bandwagon ? but if you want the cheapest (and the most crude) lighting system out there, 2 fixtures would be the best idea, if you can work around (or tolerate) the tank width problem.
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Old 08-23-2005, 11:53 AM   #15
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I agree on the wastefull magnetic balasts that weigh alot too.
but I bought 3 of the $19.00 fixtures and discarded the sheetmetal and mounted the guts straight to the canopy with the lights mounted 3" apart on center.
you could mount them as close a 2" apart on center but getting rid of the sheetmetal shaved alot of weight. I have 6 lights mounted above my homemade 120 gal FW tank (48x24x24). I run them on 3 timers which gives me dawn, dusk and suntan bed. the plants showed signs of growing but the fish ate them faster than they grew, so as of now only running one set of lights

only problem I had was remembering to wear sunglasses when I lifted the top to feed the fish, lol
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Old 08-25-2005, 04:58 PM   #16
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Do you have any pictures of your setup, this sounds right up my alley of what I wanted to do.

mike
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Old 08-25-2005, 05:15 PM   #17
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yeah ha, i was thinking the same thing because idk if i can fit a hood on my aquarium.
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Old 08-25-2005, 07:51 PM   #18
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just remember big sky, has one of only 3 tanks (that are manufactored) that exceed 18inches in width, the other 2 tanks are the 180 and the 210. most tanks range from 10inches to 13in to 18inches with most tanks having 18inches in width.

it is true though you can modify shoplights to fit above any tank, if i made that point ealier, i apologize, it wasn't intended.
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Old 08-25-2005, 07:54 PM   #19
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I don't have any pictures but I'll try and explain. I have a glass cover sitting on my brace work. the braces are recessed down 1/2" so the galss cover sits below the top of the tank. the front 5" strip is hinged for feeding.

the top of my tank has a wooden ring or band, if you will, just 1x6 boards forming a rectangle to fit around the outside of the tank it has two tabs (sections of a yard stick) one on each side to hold it up on the tank, call this the "canopy" .

then, I made a top to cover the tank and it sits on top of the "canopy" we'll call this the "lid". It has a 7" section piano hinged across the front to for acress to the glass cover for feeding. the whole "lid is about 3/4" larger than the "canopy" making a lip around the front and sides and back. on the back I glued and screwed a 1X6 to the lip hanging down. this alows me to sit the "lid on and pull it forward to the correct position every time and I mounted the ballasts.

for the lights I disassembled the light fixtures no tool needed for that, just pop off the strip between the end caps and then unclip the end and pull the end caps off You'll need a screwdriver to remove the ballast. so now all you have is the ballast four endcaps and two bare wires. the endcaps have a slot in them between where the wires plug in use a screw and washer to screw them to the "lid" you'll need to lengthen the wires I used solid core wire one gauge thicker than that use by the lighting manufacture and electricians wire nuts to join the wires together.ran the wires out the back and mounted the ballast on the back of the "lid" on the board that hangs down. I cut the end off a heavy duty extension-cord used wire nuts to connect it to the power wires and a metal strip with two holes in it to strap down the cord nest to the ballast. I had to cut the 3rd prong off the plug in so it would plug into my timer.

i did this three times for a total of 6 lights and three timers 1)8am-8pm 2)9am-9pm 3)10am-10pm. I mounted the lights 3" apart starting 2.25" form the back board that hangs down. I wouldn't mount the bulbs closer than 2" on center ,the bulbs are 1.5"in diameter and that would leave 1/4" space between then.

my fist kept eating my plants so I gave up on them and now I just run 2 light bulbs.

I recommend using URI lightbulbs with the internal reflectors so you don't have to make reflectors.

clear as mud eh??-it really is simple.
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Old 08-25-2005, 08:03 PM   #20
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a 55 gal being 48x13x21 you could fit 6 lights a 2" on center starting 1" from the back. you would have to lift the whole thing up or make the front of the canopy fold up or down to get access, 6 bulbs aren't very heavy though.
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