The idea of over driven bulbs is that your putting double, triple or quadurple power into the bulb. Producing more lumes on a single bulb. You are sacraficing effiency and possibly bulb life in exchange for more lumes. In your case 4x40= 160watts burned. If you were to use a 2 bulb balast to over drive drive your 4 bulbs, assuming an extra 50% output per bulb, you would get the same light out of 4 bulbs that you would get out of 6. The offset to this is the ineffiency, in my example of 50%, you would be burning 8x40watts= 320 for the same lumes as 6x40= 240 Normal Output setup. Which may be easier than trying to fit that many bulbs over your tank. _________________ "... instead of considering what to say when they write, people now just let thoughts drool out onto the screen,"
- about e-mail - Dr. Hogan
the bulb as far as I know determines the output, not the ballast
This is a fundamental misunderstanding. The ballast is the controlling part of the system. The bulb will not produce light without a ballast, the amount of light the bulb produces is controlled completely by the amount of watts sent to it from the ballast. Bulbs were originally rated base upon length and width of the tube using magnetic/tar ballast. These ballast do not contain any electronics and are not able to "sense" the load (bulb length or distance between the arc points). That's why it would seem that a ballast is limited. Most magnetic/tar ballast were single purpose ballasts.
The electronic ballast is very different. A good electronic ballast is able to "sense" the load and run 18", 24", 36", 48" T-8 bulbs in either 1, 2, 3, or 4 bulb combinations. You can also use an electronic ballast to run bulbs in a series. For example running a 2 bulb electronic ballast would be capable of running 2-48" bulbs or 4-24" bulbs with the 24" bulbs wired in a series pair, essentially each pair of 24" bulbs becomes a single 48" bulb.
You can't overdrive bulbs with a magnetic/tar ballast. Overdriving requires the use of an electronic ballast and not all of them are suited for overdriving. There is an end point where overdriving the bulb no longer produces an increase in lumen output for the watts entered. In fact overdriving 4x is less efficient that overdriving 3x. Using a lux meter it's been determined that my ballast and bulb overdriven combination (4 times overdrive) produces 6500-6900 lumen's from each bulb. Most T-12 48" bulbs produce less than 2500 design lumen's, so at 2500 it would require at least 2.6 normal output lamps to produce the same lumen's as the overdriven bulb...so we say the equivalent is 2.6x40W=104W. Essentially we are simply doing what Icecap is doing, albeit Icecap is much better at this, but my ballast is $20 and Icecap ballasts are $180.
I've been in the hobby for over 30 years, the last 8-9 years I've been serious about planted tanks and in that time there hasn't been anything that has impressed me as much as overdriving. Essentially you are building a VHO lighting system using cheap $3-$4 dollar bulbs and efficient electronic ballasts. I've been overdriving my 75G since December/January and I've never been more pleased with the results. Several people predicted that bulbs would only last 3 months overdriving them 4 times. I've not changed my bulbs yet, they have about 9 months on them and still everything looks good my glossostigma is still growing horizontal. _________________
OK, I'm probably repeating a bunch of things, but let me see if I got this straight. Over a 75 gallon tank I could comfortably overdrive 3, 4 foot long bulbs. To do this, I would need 3 ballasts. Each ballast is a magnetic ballast designed to run 4 bulbs
This is correct.
but through some splicing I'm running all four sets of wires into one bulb.
Using new end caps you shouldn't have to do any splicing.
1. What do I need / need to know about the process of splicing and hooking the ballast up to the bulbs? Is this where endcaps come into play? What are the important things to know about endcaps? Is there a brand or part number I should keep in mind?
Here is a new Fulham Workhorse 5 electronic ballast. Note that the wires are ready to attach...they have even been pre-stripped.
All that's needed is to mount the ballast. You can remote mount the ballast, personally I prefer mounting the ballast either on the light box top, side, or back. If you mount is under the tank you'll need to splice addition wire to the bulb power leads. Once the ballast is located and attached run all four of the red (some ballasts have 2 red and 2 blue instead of all red) to one end of the bulb via the end cap. The endcap I use has a friction post. Simply push the stripped red wire into the opening. Attach all four this way. Run the yellow wire(s) (it may be one or two it doesn't matter) to the other end of the bulb via the endcap and push the stripped yellow wire into one of the holes in the endcap.
Here's the endcaps, I bought these at Home Depot for $2.97 per pair.
2. What kind of wire do I need to splice things? What are the safety hazards of this? (A fried Cyradia is a very sad thing.)
In most cases you shouldn't need any additional wire. But, if you do, any wire of any gauge will do, even speaker wire. Obviously electricity and water are potentially lethal. Make all connections to the power (the black and white leads) with electrical twist nuts. As an added bit of safety wrap the wire nuts in electrical tape and ONLY plug this or any other aquarium device into a GFCI receptacle.
3. I'll be designing / building the wooden box canopy at the same time. Any big tips you have as far as design with these things?
Personally I cover the inside of my enclosures with mirror reflective mylar. My lights are open to the water...no glass between lights and water. I build my 5 sided box with the top panel recessed so that the ballast while top mounted are not visible. And without question the number one design element is determining how you'll gain access to the tank for feeding, algae scraping, and planting/re-planting.
How about the heat produced by the bulbs. Do I need to put a fan or two in there?
The bulbs definitely run hotter than normal but no hotter than PC's. I haven't found the need for cooling fans. The ballast are only warn to the touch but running them outside the bulb enclosure does help reduce heat and a cooler running ballast is a more efficient ballast.
4. Do you keep glass between your canopy and tank?
I have two pieces of glass sitting over my tanks, but they often get dirty and I often wonder how much light they're blocking.
It can be a very significant reduction. Even clean glass will reflect back light rays at certain angles. Dirty glass will block light and reflect light back into the enclosure.
If you remove them, does the evaporation not give you moisture issues in your lighting set-up?
I don't run glass between any of my lights and tanks. I've never experienced any issues with moisture in my lights. Use of a bubble wand may cause problems, but for normal tank circulation there shouldn't be an issue. These are not tight fitting hoods to begin with.
5. Out of curiosity, did you notice any increase in your power bill when you went to these?
Did I? No, but I live in Florida with the AC buzzing 24/7/365 and 8 planted tanks, freezers...blah, blah. My electric bill runs about $350 per month an increase for these lights would go unnoticed by me. But, I can figure out approximately how much they cost to run. Using my electrical companies rates and taxes it would be exactly $13.69 per month including taxes to run those three overdriven bulbs at 360 watts total at 12 hours per day 30 days per month. In reality the actual wattage is less than 300. (Comparable lumen's is equal to 104-120W). Again, I've supplied more information than I should expect people to remain awake for. LOL! Lordy I am a geek.
Sorry to burst your bubble Steve, but some of us LOVE this information and crave more. Such as pictures of the the wired end caps. _________________ "... instead of considering what to say when they write, people now just let thoughts drool out onto the screen,"
- about e-mail - Dr. Hogan
Wow, in the words of Johnny Carson, "I did not know that". Hey, I have learned two new things today...thanks! Hey...I think highly of geeks too _________________ I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal labotomy
Joined: 03 Apr 2003 Location: Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
Posted: 2003.09.28(Sun)19:46 Post subject:
Wow, I must say thank you Steve, you've definately coverted me to this idea. When my 55g becomes ready for light in a few months, defiantly going to home depot for these parts, thanks a bunch again! I must ask one question though, 2 48" bulbs or 1?
by the way, why mylar? The only reflective mylar I find at home depote is that window stuff that reflects some light and lets the rest through. Don't you want to reflect all the light? like with a mirror, or is there a completely reflective mylar I don't know about?
Those emergency blankets that you find in the camping section work alright...you can also get thick mylar at a lot of greenhouse supply stores or grow shops. It should be highly reflective. _________________ I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal labotomy
Without knowing what Cyrida has, or intends to have in the future, I'd stay away from actual light recomendations.
If it's a low-light, going to a higher light plant setup, 8000-9000K bulbs aren't smart. If it's SW, going to a low-light SW coral setup (softies), the 6500 isn't the best.
If it's africans, well, that doesn't matter too much, it's just owners preference.
So what are you doing w/ the tank?
I'd also HIGHLY reccomend the AH Supply setups. I've found they end up being prices competitivly w/ other DIY setups (including Home Depot DIY setups) after picking up all the little doo-dads that come w/ the AH kits. You also have to replace the bulbs much less often than w/ ODNO kits, upwards and even over every two years for some people... but different strokes for different folks.
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