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T8 Programed Ballast W/Parabolic?

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  • T8 Programed Ballast W/Parabolic?

    Does anyone have experience doing this one? The tank I'm working on now is 48 gallons, and incidentally 48 inches long. These dimensions make it difficult to get manageable light levels and good distribution at the same time with T5 or T5HO. I'm also tired of CF distribution issues. DIY LED looks appealing, but the freedom of spectrum isn't there yet.

    So this leaves me with T8. I was wondering if a good parabolic reflector with a T8 ballast will yield similar PAR to a T5 of the same wattage. Hard data would always be welcome; I haven't been able to find anything conclusive comparing the two. The principles behind it would be even better still.

    My goal here is something around a 50mmol PAR bottom.

    - Dan

  • #2
    I hate to reply as 2nd post on my own thread, but things have changed a bit. I'm going insane between all the lighting options depending on how I raise, lower or obscure the lighting. Most of the insanity is due to the comparison between prices; aquarium lighting manufacturers like to charge twice as much to do it DIY it seems.

    So I'll just open this thread up to what ever people want to suggest.

    What works for a 48x13x18 tank, giving high distribution and a flexible spectrum with low end sufficient light for ground cover? Budget here is somewhere in the $150-$250 range.

    Last edited by Philosophos; 06-27-2009, 10:59 PM.
    - Dan


    • #3
      try good price for 4 ft, 2 X 54 t5ho, $80.

      i've no experience with this company, just passing on options.


      • #4
        hmmm t5ho. I was looking at maybe doing a 2x of their 6500k 70w HQI and using height to compensate growth rate. I never bothered to check the rest. Nice job on the search; I'm going to have to find out more about these guys.

        So that leaves the question... does anybody know about the reputability of the site on the customer service side? Any hardware details besides ballasts? It looks like they use ones from other companies.

        My big deal now is having a suspended system; I don't enjoy being light jacked if I retrofit, or seeing the tops of the fixutre. In short, the lid is coming off of the hood.

        All other ideas are definitely welcome. While I know my typical options, this tank is going to be a big investment for me. I'd rather ask the obvious than mess this one up.

        - Dan


        • #5
          Not sure how you think DIY is more expensive. lol

          Maybe different where you are but T8 electronic ballasts are in the £5-15 region on ebay.

          Arcadia T8 end caps and leads (The new jazzy black/grey type complete with mounting brackets (not just tube mounting clips) can be got for in the region of £5 each set retail. Standard T8 Arcadia reflectors are £6. They are standard single bend reflectors but work well enough IMO.

          Therefore you could run 4 x 48" T8s for:

          2 x 2x32W ballasts £10-30
          4 x Arcadia end caps and reflectors £20
          8 x 24" Arcadia reflectors £48

          That would give you 128W and also be able to spread the tubes well over the whole of the tank (divide the depth of the luminaire by 5 and position the tubes on the lines)

          As for PAR I would guess this would give the PAR you are after. You would need to play about with the height to get it right. I would say the T5HO would give better PAR directly under the tubes but maybe not as even a spread.

          The costly thing with DIY is not so much the equipment but the housing. It often comes down to making the best you can. I used plain old pine wood and then put fablon vinyl over it to match the cabinet. However wood is heavy so mine is suspended from the corners. If you want to suspend it like luminaire/pendants with a single steel rope cable at each end then you need to go a little thinner on the wood.

          You would be surprised how much weight this sort of setup can take though. During water changes I put the 12Ltr bucket of wateron the luminaire while I siphon it into the tank

          A couple of links to show what I mean:

          Arcadia end caps with leads:
          Arcadia T8 IP67 ultra seal replacement lamp leads on eBay (end time 29-May-09 17:30:26 BST)

          2x36W ballast (would beOK for 32W)
          Tridonic 2x 36w T8 Electronic Ballast on eBay (end time 14-Jul-09 08:46:47 BST)

          Or of course you could just go for a smart looking MH (although I'm not overly keen on them. lol):
          Arcadia Classica 150w Marine or Freshwater LED Pendant on eBay (end time 17-Jul-09 17:04:02 BST)



          • #6
            I was hoping you'd pop in at some point. Thanks for the reply

            Unfortunately, the brands are all different here, so my job gets a bit harder.

            My confusion comes in about here:
            Sylvania QUICKTRONIC® High Efficiency Instant Start Ballast for 4 Lamp, 32 W, T8 Lighting

            Are they selling me 4x8w or 4x32w ballasts?

            I'm looking for programmed start; I've got no interest in paying for bulbs constantly.

            Otherwise, it looks like this project will run me:

            Ballast: $30
            End Caps: $20 (if I'm lucky)
            Reflectors: $40
            4x Lights: $50

            That's $140 before the housing; probably end up around $160-$190.

            Meanwhile I look at something like this and wonder if I can't just get away with suspending it a few inches higher to give even distribution. This would be less money, and effort.

            Multiple t-5's also come to mind for similar price and distribution, but I'm not sure what kind of ballast coralife uses.

            This is my frustration really; the system I want is more expensive than the new over density, high watt crap. I'd be happy buying two 1x54w T5HO strips separately for $180 if they made them.

            - Dan


            • #7
              I like the Tek lights, I have not seen the newer T5 fishneedit now but they talked up a storm about it. I'll wait and see.

              Tom Barr


              • #8
                Given the length and width, would a standard shop light raised say 8-12" work? I don't know that you'll really need T5HO to light this thing if it's only 18" tall anyway. My 29 cube does stupidly well with a 36 Watt PC on it and I'd be happy to drop the lighting a bit if it slowed things down. T12 may not really work, but maybe T8 or similar with a decent reflector?



                • #9
                  Tom, I'm heavily considering the 2x54w and hanging it up high; looks like a very possible solution to this headache.

                  Shogoth, all of the lighting sounds nice in theory. In practice, it's the comparative costs. Right now, I can't get what I want for less than $200 with shipping for DIY.

                  I think it's time for a visit to the LFS. The owner does salt, but he loves his lighting, and keeps lots of toys around. I'll get back to things once I've talked to him.

                  Thanks for the help so far everyone. Hopefully I can get this worked out before long.

                  Last edited by Philosophos; 06-29-2009, 06:26 AM.
                  - Dan


                  • #10
                    T8's are still a good option, you might spend a lot looking for parts.

                    In the old days, that's all we had, there was no PC/T5, MH's where very $$$.
                    So T12 and then T8's where it.

                    DIY only.

                    Tom Barr


                    • #11
                      That ballast is for 4 x 32W lamps. Not sure there is an 8W T8 but may be wrong. lol. The key for you to see is that it tells you which tubes you can use and 32 is listed Therfore it will be 1 input (from power) and then 16 outlets (2 per endcap / 4 per tube)

                      However your thread asks about programmed ballasts whereas this is an instant.

                      The difference is that with a programmed (delayed) start ballast it waits for the power to be correct and then bang you have full light. With an instant start it comes straight on and builds to full light.

                      The delay on programmed ballasts is only 1-2 seconds but helps prolong the lamps life longer. Instant Start is still much better than magnetic on tube life.

                      Some endcaps on ebayUS ($3 each!!!) = $24. They are the same as the Fluval ones that clip into the hood. You may be able to utilise them to clip into holes set in a metal/acrylic sheet

                      Waterproof T8 BULB BASE SOCKET DIY LIGHTING SPARE PART - eBay (item 160345060159 end time Jul-04-09 15:04:54 PDT)

                      There you have the basics If you were wanting to utilise the end cap clips I would make the outer sides in wood and then fit an acrylic sheet inside with the wiring on top then a wood sheet on top of that hiding the wiring. That would cost circa $10 for the wood and $15 for the acrylic sheet.

                      You will always be able to get luminaires cheaper second hand on ebay of course Just not tailored to your individual setup.



                      • #12
                        Heres a better pic of that ballast. You can see printed on it the 4 x 32W detail

                        Large Photo Version of SL49857 - QHE4X32T8UNVISNSC

                        Its cheaper here:
                        Sylvania 49857 QHE4X32T8UNVISNSC



                        • #13
                          Shopping around today opened up options; there's a nice T5HO retrofit kit for sale around here, using most of the parts I was trying to find online. I'll be doing a run to hardware stores and such for housing and T8 ballasts as well. If all else fails, I think I may give the fishneedit guys a shot; I've emailed asking them if they can rig me something up with a good 6 inch space between the bulbs.

                          Supercoley, there's a GE ballast I've spotted online and in stores around here; it's programmed start, and it isn't too expensive.

                          I guess what it comes down to is price; it's either a custom T5HO or T8. At least I know where things are headed now.

                          The hardware is slowly coming together for this project. I've spent an obscene amount of time researching for the entire thing; here's hoping the effort pays off some. Once all the hard stuff is here, I'm considering starting up a journal thread.

                          - Dan