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FAQs about Fluorescent Light and Lighting for Marine Systems, Power Consumption & Heat Production

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Galaxaura sp. Red Sea 08.

Euro Braced Acrylic Tank and T5HO…Too Much Heat? <Nope> - 09/18/14     9/19/14
<<Hi there>>
In your experience does hanging a T5HO 4 bulb (4x54 watt) fixture about 6 inches above an acrylic tank cause any issues from heat or discoloration to the plastic over time?
<<Not at all…I am utilizing LED lighting over my acrylic display tank now, but ran much hotter Metal Halides over the tank for quite a few years without issue>>
I am mostly concerned with top seams getting weak on the tank. The brand of the fixture is Hydrofarm EnviroGro and it is 4 feet long. I ran it for a bit and the plastic was warm not hot, but I am really not sure how much heat is safe for acrylic?
<<Not accounting for flaws in materials/workmanship, as long as the heat is not enough to soften or otherwise distort the acrylic you’ll be fine>>
The tank is 90 gallons and just has the two cut out openings in the top.
Thanks for the assistance!
<<Happy to share! EricR>>

Low Output Ballasts?/Lighting 8/18/09
Hello everyone,
<Hi Mark>
I recently purchased a VHO ballast and VHO bulbs for a frag tank which I grow corals in to sell to the LFS to help finance my addiction to the hobby. The output of the new bulbs didn't appear any different than the standard 40 watt ones I was using before, so I checked the wattage with a meter I own. It is one of those that just plugs inline on the power cord.
It is dead on when I check my metal halides or T-5's on my main tank. It says the ballast is only putting out around 90 watts total (45 per bulb), far below the 220 advertised. It also tests for amperage and it is down considerably as well. They are definitely wired correctly as they were bought as a retro-fit kit from Hello Lights. They are clueless about what the problem could be and said if they light up there is nothing wrong with them. I disagree.
<What you are reading on the primary side of the ballast isn't indicative of the power the ballast is supplying to the lamp itself.
A magnetic ballast works something like an inductor, a coil of wire in a circuit which may be wound around a piece of metal (core). When current flows through the wire, it generates a magnetic field. Positioning the wire in concentric loops amplifies this field, and the ballast in tandem with a transformer controls the amount of current going to the lamps. Newer ballast designs such as ARO's, use advanced electronics to more precisely regulate the current flowing through the electrical circuit. Since they use a higher cycle rate, you don't generally notice a flicker or humming noise coming from an electronic ballast. Do not compare your current readings to MH and T-5 lighting. Different lamps require specialized ballasts designed to maintain the specific voltage and current levels needed for a particular lamp. If the ballast were defective, you would likely see flickering, or no light at all.>
Is it possible they are selling cheap ballasts not really putting out what they claim on the packaging?
<ARO is a reputable brand of ballast, the 220 watts/1.82 amps, strictly refers to the maximum power/current the ballast is capable of handling.>
I always had decent luck in the past with them so I'm not criticizing, just wondering if ballast brands could make that much of a difference.
The brands and specs are as follows: ARO electronic ballasts model AS-220 and URI T-12 48" VHO bulbs (110 watt each). Have you heard anything negative about either of these brands?
Any advice you can give to what may be the problem would be greatly appreciated. Your site is a huge benefit to the hobby.
<As above.>
Thanks again.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Wattage measurement 11/20/08 Hello <Ed> I was always under the assumption that the wattage measurement on an aquarium was an accumulative value of all the bulbs above the tank. <Tis.> I was recently informed that is not correct. Two 96 watt CF bulbs are only putting out 96 watts, not 192. Is there any truth to this? <If you mean one bulb that has twin tubes, yes. Many of the CF bulbs have multiple tubes connected at the plug-in.> Ed Raasch

Re: Wattage measurement 11/20/08 Thank you <Welcome.> Glad to know I'm not completely stupid. edr <Heee, we all have those moments! Scott V.>

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