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View Full Version : VHO vs T5's


jayhawk317
12/19/2009, 09:22 AM
setting my 65gallon back up, after a 2year layoff, and my lights dont seem to be working. so im going to buy new. im wondering if i should stick with VHO or go with the T5's. i know nothing about the T5's. the setups are VHO 24" 4 lamp system and the T5's are 4 lamp also. both are the retrofits from hellolights. so which would you rather go with and why? the VHO's or the T5's? thanks.

stealle
12/19/2009, 09:51 AM
setting my 65gallon back up, after a 2year layoff, and my lights dont seem to be working. so im going to buy new. im wondering if i should stick with VHO or go with the T5's. i know nothing about the T5's. the setups are VHO 24" 4 lamp system and the T5's are 4 lamp also. both are the retrofits from hellolights. so which would you rather go with and why? the VHO's or the T5's? thanks.

I doubt many people will recommend VHO. There are still some people who don't want to let go of the VHO actinics because they have grown accustomed to that particular look. However, there are many T5 actinics to choose from that are really good as well. Other than the actinic debate, T5 is the superior bulb.

Hands down go with T5. You'll get much better output; they are more efficient. The T5 bulbs are much skinnier than the VHO bulbs. The T5 bulbs in combination with a good reflector will get you much more light output than the VHO. There are also tons of different T5 bulbs to choose from. You will get many opinions on bulb combinations. However, you can't go wrong by sticking to a combination of ATI blue plus and ATI aquablue special. In a 4 bulb fixture I would go with 3 blue plus bulbs and 1 aquablue special. If that is too blue for you then you could do 2 of each. Both of these bulbs put out tons of PAR.

cnaegler
12/19/2009, 09:54 AM
i doubt many people will recommend vho. There are still some people who don't want to let go of the vho actinics because they have grown accustomed to that particular look. However, there are many t5 actinics to choose from that are really good as well. Other than the actinic debate, t5 is the superior bulb.

Hands down go with t5. You'll get much better output; they are more efficient. The t5 bulbs are much skinnier than the vho bulbs. The t5 bulbs in combination with a good reflector will get you much more light output than the vho. There are also tons of different t5 bulbs to choose from. You will get many opinions on bulb combinations. However, you can't go wrong by sticking to a combination of ati blue plus and ati aquablue special. In a 4 bulb fixture i would go with 3 blue plus bulbs and 1 aquablue special. If that is too blue for you then you could do 2 of each. Both of these bulbs put out tons of par.

+1!

pbnj
12/19/2009, 09:55 AM
True.....but I have yet to see a T5 set-up provide the kind of color 'pop' that a VHO set-up provides.

MHs + VHO is still the ideal for me.

stealle
12/19/2009, 10:13 AM
True.....but I have yet to see a T5 set-up provide the kind of color 'pop' that a VHO set-up provides.

MHs + VHO is still the ideal for me.

Seriously? :sad2:

First of all the OP made no mention about considering MH. Secondly, there are tons of all T5 tanks out there these days and the "pop" blows away the MH lighting. I can only think of two reasons why a person should go with MH. 1. That person can not live without shimmer. 2. They have a very deep tank (maybe over about 30") since MH has better penetration. Otherwise, the pros for going T5 is a pretty long list.

Do these all T5 have enough "pop"?
Iwan Lasser (click this link for more: http://www.hausriff.ch/4534/156972.html)
http://www.hausriff.ch/media/DIR_127501/ganz.jpg

July 2008 TOTM (all T5)
http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2008-07/totm/images/ftsMAIN.jpg

pbnj
12/19/2009, 10:19 AM
Yes, we all know T5s provide excellent lighting. My point is VHO's are more appealing, to me at least.

You can show me all of the pictures you'd like, but I've seen enough tanks in person to say that for me, personally, nothing beats MHs+VHOs.

Doesn't everything in this hobby come down to personal preference?

cnaegler
12/19/2009, 10:25 AM
I personally use MH's + VHO's and love it but i have a client who uses T-5's on her tank and her growth is outrageously fast. However, the OP asked whether they should use T-5's or VHO's as primary lighting. No offense to anyone but, should'nt we address their question here and not get into the T-5/ MH debate? It's all personal preference. :)

stealle
12/19/2009, 10:35 AM
No offense to anyone but, should'nt we address their question here and not get into the T-5/ MH debate?


First of all the OP made no mention about considering MH.


I agree! I answered the OP's question and also provided a few photos of tanks with T5 lighting. So let's keep it to VHO vs T5 guys.

Llamaguy
12/19/2009, 11:23 AM
If you are upgrading anyways and not just replacing bulbs, it would be better to upgrade to the new style T5 so that if you keep the setup up for a few years there are no worries of lossing your supply of bulbs as more and more people move away from VHO, similar to what is happening to PC lighting.

pbnj
12/19/2009, 12:09 PM
Fine, take MHs out of the equation.

VHOs still look better. I'm know T5s are better lights in terms of PAR, coral growth, etc, but VHOs still look better to me.

jayhawk317
12/19/2009, 12:23 PM
thanks for all the reponses. MH is not even a consideration. i dont have any plans on keeping sps and dont want to deal with the heat issues that go along with MH. you guys have convinced me to go with T5's, now im wondering about which bulbs to get. i dont want it to look too blue. my VHO combo was 2 03actinic and 2 aquasuns, and was happy with that look, maybe a little more blue to bring out the colors better. so now my question is which bulb configuration should i go with? thanks for all the responses and any help with the second part of my question would be appreciated. thanks.

stealle
12/19/2009, 12:43 PM
so now my question is which bulb configuration should i go with?

Do you want a dusk dawn effect by turning on one or two of the bulb(s) first? If so you might want one actinic bulb. Actinic bulbs from Giesemann, ATI, and UVL. It's kinda fun to have an actinic bulb for dusk to dawn effect. Unfortunately, the actinic bulbs don't put out that much PAR and are very blue. You can do dusk to dawn with the Aquablue plus bulbs, but they won't give quite as dramatic of an effect as the actinic bulbs.

If I only had four bulbs to work with I would stick with 3 ATI blue plus and 1 ATI aquablue special. It'll be somewhat blue but probably not overwhelmingly so. If it's too blue you can take out one of the blue plus bulbs, save it for later, and replace it with a blue special.

You should consider looking at an ATI Sunpower fixture or one of the new TEK elite fixtures that is coming out. The reflector used with these bulbs make a really big difference. I can't emphasize that enough. Most will agree that the ATI fixtures have the best reflector available (you can purchase retro ATI reflectors over the phone from reefgeek.com, BTW). The new TEK elite reflectors have not been tested by real users yet, but they sound like they will give the ATI reflectors some real competition. Anyway, my point is that you may find that you can get an already made fixture for not much more that the cost of going retro, especially when you factor in your time.

However, you can't go wrong by sticking to a combination of ATI blue plus and ATI aquablue special. In a 4 bulb fixture I would go with 3 blue plus bulbs and 1 aquablue special. If that is too blue for you then you could do 2 of each. Both of these bulbs put out tons of PAR.

jayhawk317
12/19/2009, 01:10 PM
thanks for all the suggestions. you mentioned how skinny the T5 bulb/reflector is and i was wondering if i could get 6 bulbs in there? i just measured the inside of my canopy and it 18.5" wide. i was thinking if i could get 6 in there, have one 4 bulb setup and anothe 2 bulb setup for the dawn/dusk effect. i will try to find some pics of those particular lights you mentioned and check out reefgeek. thanks alot

stealle
12/19/2009, 01:43 PM
The actual T5 bulbs are skinny, but the reflectors are not necessarily skinny. However, most fixtures manage to pack the bulbs in pretty tight. The ATI fixtures come in two flavors: the "Powermodule" and the "Sunpower". The Powermodule is more expensive because it has more cooling fans (active cooling is important) than the Sunpower. The Powermodule also looks a little prettier. However, many people don't think the Powermodule is worth the extra cost over the Sunpower. I was able to find the measurments for the Powermodule. The 4 bulb is 9.5" wide and the 6 bulb is 13.5" wide. The sunpower is probably about the same in measurements. Also, you can find the new TEK Elite fixture here: http://www.premiumaquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=Sunlight-tek-elite The new TEK Elite should be MUCH better than the previous model. It is also a little cheaper than the ATI. I would image the measurements will be very close to the same as I mentioned for the ATI.

jimmyj7090
12/19/2009, 02:54 PM
thanks for all the suggestions. you mentioned how skinny the T5 bulb/reflector is and i was wondering if i could get 6 bulbs in there? i just measured the inside of my canopy and it 18.5" wide. i was thinking if i could get 6 in there, have one 4 bulb setup and anothe 2 bulb setup for the dawn/dusk effect. i will try to find some pics of those particular lights you mentioned and check out reefgeek. thanks alot

T5 reflectors may vary a bit, but IIRC the average is about 2.5", so if your using a retro kit 6 lamps should be about 15". I fit 6 aquaillumination reflectors in 15.25" last week :)


As far as the overall debate of VHO vs T5 - IMO the only reason to even consider VHO is for the actinic bulbs (as many have said, many don't think anything else can touch the VHO actinic pop). If you must have that, you'd still be much better off using T5 for the rest of the blubs.

Other than the actinic pop thing, basically T5 uses much less electricity, produces more light, less heat, and the bulbs last longer. Not much of a debate IMO.

Now if your looking for a deal on a used VHO set up........

jayhawk317
12/19/2009, 03:28 PM
i already have a canopy that i built myself for my VHO's so im going to go with 2 retrofit systems. i have done the measurements and can fit 6 bulbs in there. this one will be my main daylight lights:

http://www.hellolights.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1826

that comes with 2 10,000k bulbs and 2 actinic 03

for my 2 lamp set that will be used for dawn/dusk effect im going to go with this one:

http://www.hellolights.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1349

what would be the best 2 bulbs to use for the dusk/dawn affect?

slief
12/20/2009, 09:25 AM
I have several VHO lights on my system that I no longer use. I just have not pulled them off yet as my pair of 400W hallides are doing the job right now. I will most likely eventually switch to t5's and get rid of my MH's as well. Personally, I think the VHO's are a pain in the rear. The end caps suck (at least the ones I use) and don't last and the bulbs are pretty short life too in my experience. I dont have experience with T5's but I suspect they are leaps and bounds more reliable than the VHO's.

ZCCRX
12/20/2009, 11:54 PM
I am very happy with my VHO only set up. I am running four bulbs on an Icecap 660 ballast over my 90 gal for a total of 440 watts. I'm using two Aquasuns, one Super Actinic R and one 454 Actinic. The tank has beautiful color and runs cool without the need for a chiller.

When I was considering my lighting options for the canopy my major concerns were space for bulbs, heat generation, and adequate lighting for the depth of a 90 gal tank.

One of my LFS strongly discouraged me from VHO's in favor of T-5's, alot like what you hear on this forum. I was told that VHO's generate a tun of heat, and that I would definatly need to run a chiller. Also that VHO bulbs were impossible to find, and that t-5's were just better.

The problem for me was that when considering t-5's and the space they would occupy including reflectors, I would only be able to fit about four of them under my perticular canopy. Now I don't care how good t-5's are, 216 watts just wasn't gonna be enough for a mixed reef 90 gal. Not to mention the fact that t-5's do not run as cool as people say, as a matter of fact they are pretty darn hot as far as florecents go.

I ignored my LFS's advice and went with the VHO's, and I'm glad that I did. My tank has 440 watts of beautiful, strong lighting and peaks out at 80 degrees exactly with no need for a chiller. I was able to space them nicely under the canopy and since the bulbs already have built-in reflectors, there is no need for reflectors. I also found many online places where VHO bulbs are available as well as another LFS who loves VHO's and stocks plenty of bulbs.

For me VHO's were the best combination of value and quality, and I'm glad that I didn't jump on the t-5 bandwagon.

Iwishihadgills
12/20/2009, 11:59 PM
Use both! I have not seen anyone use t5/vho combination. It might become the cool new thing

jayhawk317
12/21/2009, 12:44 AM
i tried using my VHO's, and at first they kick right on, run for about 45 minutes then just shut down. i have taken it all apart and checked all my connections and everything looked good. if anyone has any ideas on what could be wrong, please let me know. save me about $400. but it happens everytime, come right on, run for 45 minutes, then go out. wait 10 minutes and they will fire right back up. so any thoughts on what the problem might be please help me out.

ZCCRX
12/21/2009, 02:00 AM
Sounds like a bad ballast, or a wiring issue. VHO's run best on electronic ballast's like the Icecap 660 so if you have a magnetic ballest you may want to replace it anyway. You can order them new for about $175. A good ballast makes a big differance with VHO's and extends bulb life to almost two years.

jimsplace
12/21/2009, 03:57 AM
i am very happy with my vho only set up. I am running four bulbs on an icecap 660 ballast over my 90 gal for a total of 440 watts. I'm using two aquasuns, one super actinic r and one 454 actinic. The tank has beautiful color and runs cool without the need for a chiller.

When i was considering my lighting options for the canopy my major concerns were space for bulbs, heat generation, and adequate lighting for the depth of a 90 gal tank.

One of my lfs strongly discouraged me from vho's in favor of t-5's, alot like what you hear on this forum. I was told that vho's generate a tun of heat, and that i would definatly need to run a chiller. Also that vho bulbs were impossible to find, and that t-5's were just better.

The problem for me was that when considering t-5's and the space they would occupy including reflectors, i would only be able to fit about four of them under my perticular canopy. Now i don't care how good t-5's are, 216 watts just wasn't gonna be enough for a mixed reef 90 gal. Not to mention the fact that t-5's do not run as cool as people say, as a matter of fact they are pretty darn hot as far as florecents go.

I ignored my lfs's advice and went with the vho's, and i'm glad that i did. My tank has 440 watts of beautiful, strong lighting and peaks out at 80 degrees exactly with no need for a chiller. I was able to space them nicely under the canopy and since the bulbs already have built-in reflectors, there is no need for reflectors. I also found many online places where vho bulbs are available as well as another lfs who loves vho's and stocks plenty of bulbs.

For me vho's were the best combination of value and quality, and i'm glad that i didn't jump on the t-5 bandwagon.

+1

stealle
12/21/2009, 07:16 AM
Now I don't care how good t-5's are, 216 watts just wasn't gonna be enough for a mixed reef 90 gal.

Counting watts is very old school and just doesn't apply anymore. 1 watt of VHO does not equal 1 watt of T5.

Also, you might be surprised how many t5 bulbs you can fit over a tank with little space. An ATI Powermodule (T5 fixture) only requires 13.5" from front to back for the entire 6 bulb T5 fixture. If you were going retro you should be able to do it in 12.5" - 13".

I believe a standard 90 gallon is 18" front to back. That'll fit 6 bulbs just fine.

smcfall176
12/21/2009, 08:03 AM
I also love the pop of the vho's. Im not sure about only using them for everything but for the color they are tops in my book.

dolphinman213
12/21/2009, 08:08 AM
yes, we all know t5s provide excellent lighting. My point is vho's are more appealing, to me at least.

You can show me all of the pictures you'd like, but i've seen enough tanks in person to say that for me, personally, nothing beats mhs+vhos.

Doesn't everything in this hobby come down to personal preference?

i agree

stealle
12/21/2009, 08:09 AM
Use both! I have not seen anyone use t5/vho combination. It might become the cool new thing

I was considering using both for my upcoming build. I was gonna use a couple VHO actinic for dusk/dawn. However, I am hearing that the royal blue LEDs are even better than the VHOs for "pop". Now I think I'm going with a strip of high output (3W), dimmable, royal blue LEDs for dusk/dawn to compliment the T5s.

rangerD275
12/21/2009, 08:45 AM
[QUOTE=jayhawk317;16236371]i already have a canopy that i built myself for my VHO's so im going to go with 2 retrofit systems. i have done the measurements and can fit 6 bulbs in there. this one will be my main daylight lights:

http://www.hellolights.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1826

that comes with 2 10,000k bulbs and 2 actinic 03

for my 2 lamp set that will be used for dawn/dusk effect im going to go with this one:

http://www.hellolights.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1349

[QUOTE=jayhawk317;16236371]

I think I am confused by your question. Are you asking if you should use Very High Output T5's (like your link suggests) or VHO lighting?

The fixture in the link you sent will use t5 bulbs, it just overdrives them 15%. That's why they call them "very high output", but they are still T5 bulbs. That setup will shorten your bulb life and run a little hotter, but you should get more par. I am going with that setup because I have a deep tank and heat isn't an issue. Plus I have SPS in the top half that will need the extra light. I'm not concerned about changing bulbs in 9 months as opposed to one year.

I would use the bulb that come with it until they go bad and then change to your own bulb combo. ATI blue plus is a very good bulb choice

ZCCRX
12/21/2009, 07:45 PM
Counting watts is very old school and just doesn't apply anymore. 1 watt of VHO does not equal 1 watt of T5.

Also, you might be surprised how many t5 bulbs you can fit over a tank with little space. An ATI Powermodule (T5 fixture) only requires 13.5" from front to back for the entire 6 bulb T5 fixture. If you were going retro you should be able to do it in 12.5" - 13".

I believe a standard 90 gallon is 18" front to back. That'll fit 6 bulbs just fine.

I understand the whole "counting watts" thing, but watts per gallon isn't just out-the-window since t-5's came along. Are you saying that 1 watt of VHO is equal to 2+ watts of t-5? I really don't don't think that t-5's are so amazingly efficient that they more than double the output of VHO's.

Also you are saying that I could have fit 6 t-5's under my canopy, well why would I need to add two more bulbs and an additional ballast if t-5's are so much better than the VHO's. If you wanted to fairly compair them, then 4 VHO's vs 4 t-5's, and if you do that you will see that the t-5's just wouldn't cut it.