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FAQs about Canopies, Tops and Housings for Lighting for Marine Systems: Wiring Matters

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If one gets zapped, they all get zapped

Aquarium lighting/Wiring 12/2/09
Hello crew,
<Hello Ed.>
My lighting consists of JBJ RDX Formosa retrofit deluxe 4x96 watt lights. I would like to locate my ballast behind the wall where my aquarium is. The reason for this is because they will not fit inside my stand and I assume
it is not a good idea to mount them behind the stand. Anyhow, I am trying to locate some additional cords to add to what I have. JBJ does not carry any. The existing power cords say 18AWGX3C type SJT (VW-1) 105 degrees. Any ideas where I can find such an animal or anything comparable that would work?
<Just about any hardware store or electrical supply will have such a cord, either in an extension or a raw pigtail. If you cannot find exactly this go with a slightly larger AWG number (actually a lower #) like 16 or even 14.>
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Re Aquarium Lighting Query   12/2/09
Good morning Bob,
<Howdy James>
On the subject query that Scott V. answered, I'd just like to add that the type SJT indicates a nominal outside diameter of 0.33. Anything larger or smaller is likely not to fit into his cord strain relief on the fixture.
<Okay... will look for... is this in today's to be posted query/responses?
Did you send this note onto Scott and the original querior? BobF><RMF went ahead and did so>
Re: More: re: Aquarium lighting   12/2/09
Yes, is in today's, and something weird happened again. I also replied, not knowing Scott did, but my reply never showed up in the sent folder.
<Mmm, bizarre>
No, I did not inform Scott, didn't think it was that notable as Scott's reply covered all the bases, just didn't want the chap to get too big a diameter cord which wouldn't fit in the strain relief on his fixture.
<Agreed... I do see a market for packaged restraints that are summat of a simple panduit and a small spot of "acrylate" ("super glue"). Cheers, B>

Aquarium Lighting/Repair 12/2/09
Hello crew,
<Hi Ed>
My lighting consists of JBJ RDX Formosa retrofit deluxe 4x96 watt lights. I would like to locate my ballast behind the wall where my aquarium is. The reason for this is because they will not fit inside my stand and I assume
it is not a good idea to mount them behind the stand. Anyhow, I am trying to locate some additional cords to add to what I have. JBJ does not carry any. The existing power cords say 18AWGX3C type SJT (VW-1) 105 degrees. Any ideas where I can find such an animal or anything comparable that would work?
<What you have is just a basic power cord. The 18AWG dictates 18 gauge wire, and the GX3C indicates three wires including the ground wire. The SJT indicates a nominal outside diameter of 0.33. The degree ratings are
Celsius. You should be able to find these in various lengths at a Home Depot or electrical supply house. It wouldn't hurt to go to a 16 gauge if 18 gauge isn't available. Another option is to just buy the required length of cord and a male plug and DIY.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Mounting locations for ballasts in a canopy 7/24/08 Hello WWM crew, <Hello Leslie!> Thank you for the wonderful service you provide to us fellow hobbyists! I hope you can provide an answer to my questions on lighting and ballast location. <I am sure we can.> First, a little background. I recently purchased a 75 gallon tank (48" L x 18" W x 20" H) with stand and canopy to upgrade and consolidate my current 29 gallon and 14 gallon systems. I only have Mushrooms, Xenia, and Zoanthids, with no plans to advance to SPS or LPS at this time. I have purchased 2 (2x54W) T5 retrofit kits with individual bulb reflectors, 2 AquaBlue+ (15K) bulbs, 1 pure actinic bulb, and 1 actinic+ bulb (all Giesemann brand) and two blue LED moon lights to install in my canopy. A picture is attached to show the inside of the canopy with the lights in approximate place. <Looks nice.> I plan on purchasing two cooling fans to be installed on the left inside of the canopy as well. <Generally a good idea.> I understand that ballasts should be mounted away from water, and if mounted inside the canopy can contribute extra heat above the tank. <Not to mention moisture accumulation on the ballast, leading to corrosion or worse.> The lights don't leave much room inside the canopy for ballast installation anyway! Is it reasonable to mount the ballasts on the outside lip of the back of the canopy if the wires will be covered by wire loom? <This is actually where I mount my VHO ballast. Just a few precautions doing this. First, use something waterproof at least on the wire connections, something like the common black electricians tape. Next, do form a drip loop. You do not want any moisture accumulation that may happen to lead back into the ballast or the electrical plug it uses. Your fans will help out here too, keeping fresh air moving through, preventing some, if not most, of the condensation. Last, keep an eye on it! If you notice any moisture on the ballast you will need to move it, and by all means, unplug it before you touch anything. > This lip is about 2.5" tall, and just fits the ballast size. If that location is not recommended, what would be my next best (and safe) option? <Ideally the ballasts should be mounted away from any moisture. Not in the canopy or stand. A lot, if not most, do anyway.> My local reef club lighting gurus recommend mounting them on top of the canopy and covering with a homemade "top", but I prefer a seamless look on the tank. <This is a good mounting option, but I too do not like having anything showing.> Thank you again! Leslie in sunny Florida <Welcome, Scott V. in overly sunny California.>

Re: Mounting locations for ballasts in a canopy 7/26/08 Hello again WWM (Scott V), <Welcome!> Thanks for your prompt reply to my question about ballast mounting locations! One more quick related question: How far away from the back wall should the ballasts be situated to safely prevent overheating or melting of the paint from the wall? I would think at least 6 inches, but that leaves a pretty large space at the back of the tank. If this proves to be the case, I will probably mount them remotely at the side of the tank. <Ah, for these ballasts an inch or two will do. The fact that you will have exhaust fans in the canopy will keep things at a reasonable temperature. I assume you will have them blowing in and flowing out the back where the ballasts will be? Even if you have the fans blowing out of the canopy, air will still flow over the ballasts.> Thanks,
<Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

MH 175 and enclosed canopy Bob, I have not asked anything of you as yet. Now, I may be getting into trouble. I have built a killer lower canopy for my 125 all glass (about 16 in. high), with large doors that keep *all* light from escaping and easy access to the reef. This thing will also slide forward, so that I can service the overflows, etc. <Sounds very nice> The canopy is in two parts and of abs plastic. The top ( or lighting part) is a work in progress. I have a limit switch to cut off the 175 MH lights at 160 degrees that I can place at the hottest (or any) part of the upper canopy and a 130 make/ 90 break snap disc control for the two 4 in. RS, 115v fans.  <Have your later input re the lower limit (110) for the high shut off> Lighting will be, two 175 MH, four 4 ft (40 watt) and two, 3 ft. tubes. By the way, those (White-Rodgers) snap disc controls are great and available from Grangers <Grainger> for only 7 to 8 bucks each and I have tested them for several hours, but not on the canopy !. The limit switch will take care of up to 10 amps and I chose the (3L02-161) with a manual restart instead of an auto restart. I figure that if it cuts the hot lights off, there is a good reason and the problem needs to be corrected prior to switching back on. <Yes> My thinking on this project is to keep it light weight so that I can remove it without help and I hope to be able to use a lightweight acrylic shield between the two canopies as I wish to avoid heating up my tank. This same thinking is the reason, I do not wish any motor in my sump or in the tank. I am running two Quiet ones and driving the skimmer and the 5 nozzle water movers that are in the lower part of the tank and behind and between the live rock off of one pump. The upper supply (six directional nozzles) are on the other pump. The two fans are both blowing in and can be partially directed at the acrylic sheet, below the MH lights <An acrylic sheet below the lights? I would not use one here... and want to mention/ask that you have heat and light deflectors as part of the fixturing above, separating the MH lamps from the ABS sheet plastic making up the canopy?> This should not cause much pressure, because I will have some holes in the top, covered by a four foot by one foot, black plastic roof heat dissipater from Home Depot, on top of the light canopy. <On top... but also something inside... deflecting the heat from the structural hood> My question (before I get further with the upper part of the canopy), is... How close to those 175 watt, 10k MH lights, can I place the acrylic lens? <Were these supplied as part of the fixture? As UV filters? To protect against touching, splashing? If so they should be mounted per the fixture. If not provided as a component, I would mount the lamps at least a foot from the waters surface, sans any in-between material> Do you know at what point the would start to deform, melt or bend etc.? <Depends on some properties of the specific make-up, thickness... likely not too far from just being near the lamps... in the mid to upper 100 degrees F. Do take care here, contact the dealer you bought these units from. Am cc'ing Dave Adkins here. Dave? Bob Fenner> Thanks, Dave Moose

Electrical safety in aquaria Thank you very much for your input, Anthony.  Trust me when I say it's valued greatly.  I think I'll keep a close on it (for condensation and salt), and buy my own cheaply made plastic cover if necessary, or better yet, a high quality one. <agreed, my friend> One more follow-up question if you don't mind.  What, in your opinion is the worst that can happen if condensation or salt builds up.  I know that an electrical arc will be created eventually, but am I just in danger of blowing a bulb, or is there a possible fire hazard here? Thanks again, and a happy New Year to you! Eric Newman <there are bigger issues here than product application and durability. Regardless of how safe or unsafe any such devices are... every aquarium should have the aquariums electrical life support equipment plugged into two separate lines (for safety in case of non- whole-house outages (single devices fails or breaker trips otherwise). You don't want all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. The two biggest draws for any system are pumps vs. lights. Those two system are your separate lines. Those lines should be shock protected with ground fault interrupters (GFI). Nowadays, you can even buy an extension cord with a GFI built right into it! If you run your aquarium equipment off these two GFI protected lines, you will have little or nothing to worry about with any reasonable electrical application. Best regards! Anthony>

- IceCap Wiring Information - Hello,  I was just wandering if you had a direct route to info about IceCap Industries Model 660 Electronic Ballast. Like, where the wires go and what colors... Thanks for the help! <For all information IceCap, please go here: http://www.icecapinc.com  Cheers, J -- > 

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