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FAQs about Fluorescent Light and Lighting for Marine Systems, End Caps

Related FAQs: Fluorescent Light 1, Fluorescent Light 2, Fluorescent Light 3, Normal Output (NO), High Output (HO), Very High Output (VHO), Compact Fluorescents (CFs, PCs)Compact Fluorescents 2T5, TN Fluorescent Lighting, & FAQs on Fluorescent: Fixture Selection, Ballasts, Regular and High-Output Lamp Selection, PC Lamp Selection, T-5 Lamp Selection, Lamp Life-Span Issues, Power Consumption Issues, Installation-Wiring, Troubleshooting/Repairing, By Make/Model/Manufacturer: & Metal Halide Lighting, Lighting Marine Invertebrates LR LightingTridacnid LightingSmall System Lighting,

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VHO end-cap and bulb question   2/20/07 Will a regular t12 end cap for a hardware store work with VHO bulbs?  Moisture isn't a problem as I have been running CF for over 3 years without moisture proof end caps. Thanks <Hey Shaun, JustinN with you this morning. Yes, regular T12 end caps will fire VHO bulbs, however, I cannot condone the use of non-moisture resistant end caps in an aquatic setting -- there is a LOT of juice running through those end caps! -JustinN>

VHO End-Cap Meltdown...A Case For A Splashguard?...Or Just The Wrong Type Of End-Cap? -- 08/15/07 Good evening crew! <<Hiya Goldie! [flashbacks of 'Sin City' going through my mind... Uh-oh, I think I've caught Marv's attention...time to run!...]>> My VHO lights went out last weekend, and I first thought it was the harness shorting out. <<Oh?>> So I ordered a new one and took the lights down to prepare for the repair job ahead. Once I got them down, I noticed that one of the bulbs was nearly black, and the cap was melted! <<Yikes!>> My guess is water got in the cap, the cap overheated, and eventually it all shorted out. <<Actually, the short caused the overheating/melting...and one can only guess the cause here, but if these were not three-piece 'hard' plastic end-caps then the heat from the VHO bulbs themselves may have softened/melted the end-cap leading to the short>> Good thing I ordered new caps with the harness... <<But what kind?>> So my question is this: what kind of splash shield can I use? Can I just put an aluminum shield around the ends to protect the caps? <<Mmm, I think a clear Plexiglas shield along the length of the light fixture would be better than a 'partial' shield that will likely not prove effective. But the best option is to use the correct type/style of moisture-proof end-caps such as these (http://www.aquacave.com/detail.aspx?ID=737)>> Or should I do something bigger, like a Plexiglas or glass shield on the tank itself? <<This too is an option...though be aware 'any' type of splash shield is going to reduce the efficacy of the lighting>> I am concerned that if this happens again, it won't just be caps I am replacing -- it will be the whole kitchen or house as the result of a VHO-triggered fire!! (That would probably top the list of expensive mistakes I have made with this aquarium...) <<A valid and serious concern. You must do what makes you comfortable, but in my experience the three-piece moisture-proof caps have always proven safe/effective>> Thanks! Goldie <<Hope this helps. EricR>>

Re: VHO End-Cap Meltdown...A Case For A Splashguard?...Or Just The Wrong Type Of End-Cap? -- 08/16/07 Thanks for such a quick reply! <<Quite welcome>> These caps WERE the three-piece waterproof caps-- they were ARO brand, meant for use with the ARO ballast that they connected to. <<Hmm, too bad...these end-caps generally perform quite well. Perhaps this one was defective/faulty...or maybe even the problem was with the bulb. Or...maybe the nose of the cap wasn't tightened/had worked loose allowing moisture to enter. Admittedly, all speculation on my part>> Maybe one just worked its way loose and water got in that way. <<Oh! Yes... (should read ahead I suppose)>> Not sure. <<Nor am I>> Anyway, would Plexiglas overheat? <<I have used this for splashguards on DIY fixtures myself...should be fine. Just make sure your fixture has adequate gaps/vents to allow trapped heat to escape>> I may put a splash guard on even though the light efficiency would be reduced. <<Okay>> The life I have in my tank (or had, before the lights went out...) doesn't require extremely high light levels; it's mostly live rock, some random inverts like mystery clams and worms (most of whom either live in crevices or caves anyway) and a lone piece of coral whose name right now eludes me. <<I see>> I should get my new caps tomorrow (and then I'll see how many bulbs I need to order...). Hopefully that will take care of it! <<My fingers are crossed...!>> Thanks again! Goldie <<A pleasure to assist. EricR>> PS I wish I could look like the Goldie in Sin City -- but with more clothes on... :) <<Hmm, I may have to watch that movie again... ER>>

Questions on Lighting Recommendations Bob, <Steven Pro answering a few questions before heading out to dinner with the family and Antoine.> I was just about to pull the trigger on purchasing an Icecap VHO retro kit when I saw your article recommending Duro Vita-Lites RO fluorescents. <A great lamp! Shame they are not made anymore. I wonder why no one has purchased the name and lamp to remarket, similar to Corallife now selling Tetra's Luft air pump.> I plan to use the 48" length (T10?). I have a couple of questions: 1. Can you tell me who makes a good electronic ballast for RO bulbs? <I believe Icecaps will light Normal Output (NO) lamps, too.> 2. Are there any water-tight end caps available for these size bulbs? <Hard end caps are required for VHO, while you can get away with the soft variety for NO.> 3. What is a good source to purchase these components and bulbs? <Champion, Ahsupply.com, Marine Depot, and many more I am forgetting. Take a look at the links page on WWM for the various e-tailers.> 4. Will these bulbs be available long-term since Duro-Test is gone? <I do not believe they are available now. URI is my brand of choice.> Thanks, Darrell Heflin <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

VHO Lighting WetWebMedia Crew, I'm in the planning stage of my DIY light project. I've decided on the IceCap 660 ballast for my 120 gallon tank that is 24" deep. I am going to run four 48" bulbs for a total of 440w, do I need 4 end caps, or eight? <You need eight end caps, four pairs.> Does IceCap make a good end cap or are there better ones? <Most any hard end cap will work. I get whatever my vendor carries.> Does the stock wiring harness have the capabilities to run all four bulbs, or do I need to purchase a different one? <If the 660 is capable of running four lamps, the stock wiring will work.> Thank you. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

End caps Bob - I need to get some end caps (waterproof) immediately. I currently have  the white ones that consist of three pieces that all screw together. I can  never get the bulbs to fire up without at least 2 hours of messing around.  It is driving me crazy. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance. Rebec >> Yes! And this is important... as annoying as it is to you to have to fiddle with the end caps, it is also a hazard to the lamps... and maybe you. I take it these are T-12 ("regular" fluorescents)... if you're not happy/satisfied with the fittings and ballast system en toto, do look into the lighting systems sold by Aquarium Systems and Energy Savers (ESU)... if only the end caps are bothering you, maybe contact Champion Lighting (http://www.championlighting.com/)... And for the hot tip of the day, before inserting your lamps, smear the pins and metal end pieces with a thin coat of silicon o-ring grease (like for camera gear, pool pumps...). This will help make a secure, water tight connection and ease their removal at a later date. Bob Fenner

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