View Full Version : Thoughts on T5 Lighting for Large Tanks
I'm looking for some opinions on T5 lighting for a 34" (@700 gal) deep tank. I'm curently running 6 x 400 watt halides and 4 x 4 foot actinic VHO. What I'm thinking of doing is running just 3 Halides down the middle and switching my VHO to T5 then adding more T5. It's a mixed reef with LPS,SPS and clams. What I'm thinking is I could run a longer lighting cycle (only have halides on a few hours/day) and get better light coverage with less electricity used. I've seen some amazing tanks lately lit with T5 alone, but I'm thinking I'm a little too deep for that.
03/07/2006, 06:37 PM
a new thread with in a few hours? for the sam e questiong? anyway. i think that they do not pennitrate as well or so i have been told. no experiance my self... did you try a search
Umm ya I hit the wrong button and it said t%. I'm having it deleted. A little rude don't ya think?? I've done all the reading I can find on T5. I'm looking for someone with expeience in T5 large tank setups.
03/07/2006, 09:09 PM
not trying to be rude sorry if it came that way.. i wish i could help also wondering.....
03/08/2006, 05:34 AM
Energy just switched over to T5's w/ halides from VHO ans Halides. I think it looks better with the T5's any other question you will have to direct to Energy.
03/08/2006, 11:29 AM
Hopefully soon I will have my 600gal up and running with 4x 250w MH in L3 reflectors with 4x 11000K and 4x Blue Plus T5's... I will use this config at first and see how it turns out and maybe add some more T5s down the road if needed...
Well, what I'm thinking is to use the T5's for better overall coverage and just use the halides a couple hours a day for some intensity. I'm curious though to hear from somebody who has switched and if it's going to do what I'm wanting. The VHO just doesn't seem like much when running against 400W haildes.
03/08/2006, 02:50 PM
at 34" ypu are very deep for T5's.. if you overdrive the T5's and cover the tank with them where there are no MH it will help...
03/08/2006, 03:27 PM
Just to clear up some 'misinformation' here...T5 light penetrates deeper than halide. Yes, yes it does. Thats why so many are reporting that with T5s that their shrooms and low-light LPSs are melting if their tanks arent tall enough.
So you are looking at about 1500 (2000 tops) watts in T5 to replace your VHO and 1200watts of halide? Sure...no problem. It sure is alot of bulbs though. Thats about 28-30 4' bulbs, or 4 of the tek 8-bulb fixtures. Thats not too bad when you say it like that.
FWIW, T5 actinics arent quite as vibrant as VHO, but thats OK. IMO, the blueplus bulbs that have a blue peak are what people should be using mostly anyways. Most 10,000Ks have more purple/450nm in their output than a 20,000K... (in fact the bulb with the most purple in the output is the iwasaki 6500K), but its the 'blue' or 420nm that they lack. This is why many people who use 10,000K and actinics just cant make it look like a 20,000K halide, or really get that 'deep blue sea' look no matter how many actinics they add. The blue spectrum is what should be 'supplimented' not the actinic.
The good news is that blue bulbs last longer than actinics (actinic phosphors are unstable and burn fast), and blue bulbs actually have a decent PAR compared to actinics, and last longer.
I would do the 4 tek fixtures, with a mix of blue+ and actinic bulbs...but mostly blue (if not all since your halides, unless you use 14,000 or 20,000Ks you will have plenty as is), and you should see a large boost from the 6 halides and VHOs that you have now.
Well, I've got a mix of aquaconnect 15K and XM 20 K on there right now. I'm sure it's going to be hard to tell what I'll like without some trial and error. So are you saying go down to less halides or do away with them all together? I was thinking a mix would be better.
03/09/2006, 12:11 AM
...oops, I mixed up my numbers BTW, the purple/actinic is the 420nm peak, and the blue is the 450nm.
HOC, maybe you and I should talk about bulb spectrum as well. That mix is rather odd. BTW, you mean Aquaconnect 14,000Ks, right?
As far as halides/no halides...its up to you. I can see how a mix might be the best for a larger tank however...those shimmer lines and spots of intense light are hard to let go.
For your tank, the AC 14,000K bulbs are perhaps the best 400watt bulbs around. I would use them alone, and skip the XMs.
You may have seen this already, but if you compare the outputs of the XM 20,000K and the AC 14,000K...they are near identical in how they curve and where they spike, only the AC has almost double the PAR of the XM. The AC has more blue-450nm and purple-420nm than the XM.
Something you might do is use 10,000Ks which are strong performers at any level for PAR, and suppliment for what they lack in comparison...with blue-plus T5 bulbs (which happen to be among the best T5 bulbs you can buy) instead of actinic. This would end up looking alot like the 14,000Ks, but with a little bit more purple like the 20,000Ks...and have a much higher PAR overall with less watts.
Some of the best looking tanks are the ones with 10,000K halides (best PAR), paired with 30-50% in T5 bulbs....50% blue+, 50% actinic 03. This mix combines the best performers of both types, and gives a look alot like a 14,000K.
But those XMs....they are just worthless compared to what else you are using. I would pick another bulb...at least the EVC 20,000K.
If you want to continue with the AC bulbs, they lack nothing compared to the XM, and really could only be supplimented by some actinics...which they actually have more of than the XMs already.
03/09/2006, 07:01 AM
Im going strictly T5 on my 300 as of now im planning on 8 bulbs at 54W apiece driven by icecap ballasts. 4' bulbs
03/09/2006, 08:55 AM
keefsama.... will that be enough for the 300?? what are you planning on keeping in the tank?
hahn.... what reflectors do you suggest... i'm running 6500k blubs and vho's aictinics right now and was thinking of running t5's all aictinics. 4 on a icecap 660 48" long on a sps tank 5'x2'x2'
and what brand bulbs??
03/09/2006, 08:57 AM
its going to be LPS and angels/triggers/wrasses/anthias/a few misc i had the reef but not really into it want to do a nice fowlr with some softies and LPS if i can get away with it.
03/09/2006, 10:59 AM
ic.... then you should be fine.
03/09/2006, 11:06 AM
yeah im not trying any sps even tho i have seen them do very well under t5's i dont think the angels would let them have much life
Ya, Angels are hit or miss. They are really like people and like to eat different things. You can't tell which one will eat corals. MOst of the large angels love to tear up zoanthids.
I guess what I'm wondering since T5's should do what I'm wanting is.. Do the T5's fluoresce the corals as good as actinic VHO?
03/09/2006, 11:47 AM
from what i have seen yes they do and i have some SPS under T5's 54wat driven by icecap 660's and i have nice extension on the sps polyps and it hasnt been too long but i want to see the growth as well
03/09/2006, 01:57 PM
Wher to begin...
1. 6500K bulbs already produce more actinic than any other halide, 10,000K or 20,000K...you just dont see it because of all the other spectrums in large amounts. The best supplimentation would instead be something in the blue range, which also happens to be a better performer with any bulb. Geisemann, D-D, ATI all part of the same company and the #1 bulbs to get right now. They make a 'blue plus' bulb with much more PAR than any actinic, longer lasting, and will make more of a visual impact than actinic.
2. reflectors: 1. Icecap SLR, 2. aqualuxlighting.com's, 3. SLS Tek
3. the IC ballasts: Not worth it. They claim that the 'soft start' feature will extend bulb life. Yeah, as if we would consider using our bulbs until they no longer start any more! Soft starting means that the starting electrodes last longer and dont create those black deposits at the ends. We, as reefers, replace our bulbs long before this point. We replace our bulbs in less than half this time because the phosphors wear out or shift. The reason for this is heat. The IC ballast makes more of this, and therefore requires better ventilation because the bulbs are hotter. Running bulbs hotter means less life...unless you could run them in the arctic where they could be kept cool forever.
Also, tests with phosphor based lighting shows that boosting the voltage by more than 10-20% has very little pay-off. There is a limited amount of phosphors in any T5, PC, VHO, NO tube. Once these are all being used there is little more that more electricity will do other than make more heat. Tests on PC/VHO bulbs have shown that boosting the electricity by 10-20% resulted in 5-15% greater outputs, and more electricity than this did not produce more than 15% output...just more heat.
Tests with the IC660 show that it tends to overdrive 3' and 4' bulbs by 50%, yet the increase in PAR is a mere 30%. Not worth it.
A better use of the $150-200 that a Icecap ballast costs would be to simply buy an extra 50% reflectors, regular T5 ballasts, and bulbs to get the full 50% more output from. Then you wouldnt have to worry about shorter bulb life or cooling needs as you would be running the bulbs as per their intended operating specs.
03/09/2006, 04:36 PM
Hahn... what ballast do you suggest then. and what do you mean by "extra 50% reflector"?? that the reflector is able to reflect back 50% more light then a standard one. And are the reflectors listed above 50% more reflective?
Wouldn't you get more intensity by overdriving? With a better reflector wouldn't you just be bouncing more light back into the tank, not making them brighter?
03/10/2006, 04:17 AM
What I mean by 50% more ballast, reflector and bulb is in number. Instead of that 4x54 watt setup where the bulbs run at 80watts each on an IC ballast, simply get 6x54wattT5s. I mean you should spend the extra wattage and money from the IC ballast ($150-200 for a 660 can easily buy three triad 2x54watt ballasts at $40 ea, 2 extra SLR reflectors at $20 ea, and a couple extra bulbs). At least that way using 50% more electricity will get you 50% more light.
I guess the way I'm thinking it works, I would be better off trying to make the bulbs burn brighter to get deeper into my 34" deep tank. Does anyone know if there's a visual difference using a Icecap and overdriving verses running them standard? I know halide bulbs lose some blue (according to my eyes) when you raise the wattage(HQI).
I'm going to ask this seperately. Has anyone seen the same bulb run on Icecap(overdriven) beside a normally driven T5?If so what were the differences?
03/10/2006, 01:45 PM
"the increase in PAR is a mere 30%"????? Even if I accept your data that sounds like an oustanding value to me. 30% fewer bulbs, 30% fewer ballasts, 30% fewer end caps, installed in 30% less space for 24% more money. You also need to remeber that in order to get 30% more light with other ballasts you have to have 30% more of them and they consume power as well. The difference in power consumption on a 6 bulb 39W OD system and a 8 bulb non-OD system is only 32 watts per day (351 versus 319) even if we use your numbers. I'll take that deal every time.
03/10/2006, 01:59 PM
I currently have a 125 setup and running and I am in the middle of building a 265. I am running 6 t5's at the moment and will run a total of 8 on the 265. I have sps growing at least as well as when I had 250 ushios,iwasakis,xm20k and radiums. the colors are pretty nice and like I said the growth is seemingly fast at least in my experience. I run ice cap 660's because they give me more wattage. the way they do it is not to up the voltage but to up the frequency. this is how they get the life claims they are making. I do not beleive they will last 2 years like ice cap claims but more like 9 months maybe. I also have a torch coral right about 6 inches from the waters surface with no ill effects. I have ricordia and several other mushroom species about the same height and on the sand that are all doing very well. I have xenia up high and in the sand. the stuff in the sand is not long and stringy like it gets without enough light.
all in all I have to say I am very pleased with the t5's and hope to continue to use them in the future. I do agree with the before mentioned fact that ati or geisemann bulbs are the way to go. right now I have 3 11k , 2 actinic and 1 blue plus. on the new tank I will add 1 more blue plus and 1 more 11k. I get compliments by every visitor about how bright and how great they think the color is then I open the hood and they see spots for a while. I also use the ice cap reflectors.
about the question of t5 being better for brightness over the vho I have to say to my eyes it does seem they are much brighter per foot of bulb than vho. my lfs had 2 vho per invert tank and changed to 2 t5's and what a difference in everyway. I think the t5 actinics floresce very nicely. the blueplus is very overpowering when ran 1 to 1 with daylight. I would say 2 11k 1 actinic 1 blue would be a good color combo. if you are running aquaconnects with supplementation I think the blueplus personally would be extremely blue and I love blue. I used to run radiums with actinics and I think that combo would be way too blue for me.
03/10/2006, 03:17 PM
Ok Wryknow, you are manipulating percentages to make them sound good. Your math is wrong.
You are taking the 30% increase over the base number, then using the whole as your base percentage for a 30% reduction. And you are a materials project manager?
As far as what adding an IC660 to 4 bulbs gives you: a 50% increase in eletricity for a 30% increase in PAR, or if you are using the high number as the base number, that would mean a 33% reduction in electricity for a 20% cut in PAR. You have to compare similar percentages Wryknow. That means that compared to simply adding an extra regular T5 ballast with 2 extra 54watt bulbs and 2 reflectors, you are losing 17% of your potential output.
03/10/2006, 03:20 PM
robthorn, I wasnt watching it and accidentally melted one of my pink ricordeas yesterday with the 6x39watt T5 over the 40B. Never was able to do that with halide...except maybe with a 250wattDE 10,000K sitting 6-10" right above.
03/10/2006, 04:19 PM
Hahnmeister: This is just a friendly conversation, so let's avoid sarcastic comments. Let me try to explain again why I think that ICECAP is a better value:
In order to make this clearer let's say that you want to build a T5 system with TEK lights on a 4' tank that is as bright as my system using 4 x OD ICECAP bulbs. Again, we will use your numbers for power and PAR, which I have not validated.
System ICECAP: 4 x 54W T5 ICECAP retro-fit kit
cost: $359 (reefgeek)
power consumption: 4 x 54 x 1.5 (your numbers) = 324W
PAR: 4X * 1.3 = 5.2
(where X equals the PAR of 1 normally driven 54W T5 bulb)
Bulb replacement cost = 4Y
(where Y equals annual replacement cost of 1 x T5 54 W bulb)
Space = 4Z
(where Z equals linear inches required for 1 x T5 bulb w/ SLR)
System Tek: 6 x 54W T5 TEK SLR retro-fit kit
(you need at least 1.3 times more bulbs to create the same PAR)
power consumption = 6 * 54 = 320W
Bulb replacement cost: 6Y
Space = 6Z (it may or may not even fit over our tank)
So what does the analysis show?
Cost: ICECAP is 20% less
Power: Tek uses 1.2% less
PAR: Tek has 15% more
Bulb replacement cost: ICECAP is 50% less
Space: ICECAP uses 50% less space
It looks like ICECAP is the clear winner to me - even using your numbers. It's cheaper to buy and maintain the ICECAPs and I can fit a lot more of them under the hood. On a 12" deep tank I don't think that the 6 SLR system would even fit.
Yes, I am a material project manager. :)
03/11/2006, 02:00 AM
No sarcasim intended, Im just shocked that a material project manager would manipulate percentages like that. What it looked like you were saying is almost like telling someone, "Ok, you have a dozen eggs, and want 50% more, here are 6 more for a total of 18"...and then a few seconds later..."Oh, you dont want that 50%? Oh, well let me take that 50% back then", and you take 9 eggs back (9 being 50% of 18 of course)"...um, er, yeah, you are taking away 50%...sure...but you see where you might be misunderstanding the info here?
I retrieved the exact numbers from Grim, so the percentages are no longer off the top of my head... Swapping ballasts on a 54watt bulb, "the IC is good for a reading of about 183 compared to a regular ballast that would make 135 on that same bulb". So, if there were 1.5x that bulb with regular ballast/bulb/reflectors, the PAR would be 203. No more percentages, thats makes me lean to the regular ballasts (triad, advance, fulham, etc) any day. The regular setup is about 10% (percentage from total, not base since that number would be higher) brighter right off the bat...and there is more...
Now, I do agree with you on one thing. If you have limited hood space and you want to eek out more wattage, the Icecap is a good option.
I want to add something else in as well. And BTW, for those looking, geek is not the cheapest place to buy tek lights...I bought mins for half that. Greenhouse suppliers will sell you the unit for $250-$300. Look on ebay, youll see. You brought up bulb replacement costs though...and thats a whole other can of worms. The IC ballast is burning out bulbs faster than normal. The general accepted period of T5 replacement is something like 18-24 months for them (the actinics are the least stable, the days are the most), but icecap users are reporting significant drops in PAR within the first 6 months, and replacement within 12months. So for initial setup cost, sure, the 6 bulb setup needs an extra $40 in bulbs...but over the long run, you will most likely need to replace all your bulbs in 12months vs. 18months. That means that in 3 years (a common denominator), at $20 a bulb, the 6 bulb unit will cost $240 if the bulbs are replaced at 18 months. For the IC, replacing ALL the bulbs every 12months means the same $240 is spent. And along the way, people with IC ballasts are reporting drops in PAR early on (most likely due to the excessive heat which is the only concern for phosphor longevity). Excessive heat, not hard starting, is what burns out our bulbs as far as output goes, and the IC simply makes more of it...burning out bulbs faster. The IC appears to be burning even the daylight bulbs down to 50% of their output in 6 months! Regular ballasts lose about 10%! Now, I am betting that the cooling might not be up to PAR on these calculations, but I would also like to add in that these readings were on 5' bulbs (dhoch's) which on an Icecap only get overdriven by 20watts to 100watts on the IC ballast. Thats not a large boost, but a huge loss in output.
And then there is startup cost. Note: I am leaving the cost of the first 4 bulbs, reflectors, and endcaps out of this since they are a constant that can be negated from the cost of either setup. An IC ballast costs $150-200...lets go with geek for pricing....$169 plus anywhere from en extra $25-50 in harness add-ons and such. Lets just say $200 total. Now, a more expensive T5 ballast, the Triad, is $40 for two 54watt bulbs...so thats $80 for four. Now, thats a pretty pricey ballast considering fulhams are $40 for a 4x54watt unit...but Ill go with it. So for 6 bulbs (comparing the IC w/ 4 bulbs to the regular w/ 6), the triads save you $80 on ballasts alone. Heck, fulhams would save you $120. That $80 can buy 2 bulbs at $20 ea, 2 reflectors at $20 ea, and the only cost extra is the endcaps really...$20 more...which is with the triads...since the fulham setup with the 2 extra bulbs, reflectors, and endcaps would come in at $20 less than the IC setup.
It seems to me that the IC ballast is a bit like M80 ballasts are for halide. Sure, they generate 10-15% more PAR right off the bat, but they overdrive the bulb so much that by the time the usual replacement time comes around they are at 40% of their starting output. (info from a GE lighting engineer) e-ballasts like the IC might not have that edge when they first fire up the bulb, but they are able to maintain the PAR for much longer and in the end have a 30% PAR drop if that so that at the end they outperform the HQI anyways. I wonder if the PAR when using the IC ballasts after 9 months isnt lower than the normally driven kinda like the halides above.
I do have a 660 ballast laying around, and a 4x54watt IC retrofit as well. I might have to hook it up and run it to get some long term test results. Currently I am running an objective test (er, a 'coral's opinion' test...) > given the same water parameters by linking tanks, will a 250wattMH generate more growth over a 40B, or a 6x39wattT5 unit? And with which types of corals (I will have some identical softies, rics, zoas, SPS, LPS, and shrooms in each)? The light spectrum is rather balanced as well...the 250 is a 14,000K pheonix, and the Tek has 2 aquablue, 2 blue+, 2 actinic03...the coloration looks near identical as the tanks are next to each other. The T5 bulbs are new, and when the second 40B is set up, I will swap out the pheonix bulb for a new one since the current one is 8 months old...and I want them to have an equal start. Should be interesting.
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