Everything you ever wanted to know about DIY lighting, but were afraid to ask

#61
Exactly he's an engineer no field experience.
He doesn't need 'field experience'. This is a cut and dry situation. He didn't soldier anything; experience doesn't come into play here. Theory is all that is required.

So what is the peak rating for the wire then smarty pants.
The wire is rated at 300 watts RMS@ 12v, which equals 25 amps.

you know what im done jsut one more thing waterproof and weatherproof are 2 totally different things.
Generally, yes, they have different meanings. However, seeing as the package says 'waterproof' on it, I trust it to be waterproof. Besides, it isn't submerged... it is in a canopy, with a sheet of glass between it and the water.


I was irrational and i said sorry, but i just dont want people to get hurt or things of that nature.
Yes, you were highly irrational. I understand your concern, but have some faith that someone else might have somewhat of an idea what they are doing.

This is my major problem with skilled tradespeople... I don't mean to generalize, but the majority of the ones I have met(Be they electricians, welders, mechanics, whatever) assume they they are the only people to know anyhting about the topic on hand... If someone is not a tradesman theirself, they couldn't possibly know anyhting about electronics/welding/engines etc...

Don't get me wrong, I have a great respect for tradespeople. I used to be one myself(Aircraft Structural tecnician). However, keep in mind, someone may know somethig about a topic, even though they don't have formal training in that area.
 

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Jan 5, 2007
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Concord, N.H.
#63
I just want to comment on colors of wires and terms use for wiring for different voltages.
Red and black are typically for low voltages, such as 12 volts in your vehicles. Red is positive, and black is negative. Vehicles use the body as the ground, so make sure you don't touch the red to black or red to the the body, or red to anything that is grounded.

In higher voltages such as 120 (110-125) volts, there are three colors used for these types of projects. Black, white, and green. You might not even see a green wire, so don't worry for a hood project.
The white wire is called neutral, the black wire is hot, and the green wire is ground. In your breaker or fuse box, the ground is tied to an ~8' copper clad rod driven into the ground near the meter.
The green wire (in modern wiring) is a safety and is tied from the ground rod at the meter to wiring boxes and chassis of equipment such as a VCR, TV or a stereo.
The black wire is wired to the incoming hot wire being fed to the building, through the breakers or fuses, and on to the circuits in the building.
The white wire is connected to the incoming neutral, and the neutral of the circuits. The difference compared to the black is all of these neutrals are tied to a single block, and the block is connected to ground. The green wire. Yes, I said connected to ground. The reason this works is the hot swings from 120 volts positive to 120volts negative. The white wire is just a reference.
This tidbit isn't relative to this project, but this happens 50 or 60 times a second, depending on where you live while 60 is North America. Don't worry about this fact for now.

A safe rule for wiring is to make sure yourself that everything is unplugged. Don't ask your little brother, girlfriend, mom, etc if it's unplugged. Make sure yourself no matter what the inconveniece. It's better than dead.
A simple rule for connections is white to white, black to black, green to green. No white on green, and guess what? No green on white! If you do black on white or green you could start a fire. Most likely you will pop a breaker whether it's on the nice GFI you are using, on the power strip, or at the breaker box itself.
When you wire in a switch, be sure it is inline with the black, meaning the black wire goes to the one terminal on the switch, and then all of the appliances (lights, etc) are attached to the other terminal of the switch. It is not advisable to switch the neutral, since all wiring and appliances would be energized even if the switch is off. Not safe at all.
The white can be directly wired to the whites in the appliances. The ground can be directly wired to the ground screw on the hood if you have a grounded hood or grounded whatever you are working on.

Remember as Orion said: "t is not up to the staff or anyone inparticular on this board to verify the saftey or usefullness of any threads listed under the DIY section. It is up to the individual to try anything at their own risk."

If you do not feel comfortable working with electricity, then don't. You will have to pay more, or go without, but that's life. It's better than dead.

As far as the speaker wire goes, yes it can handle the voltage and amperage, the insulation should be sufficient, but it's not safe normally due to the colors and markings not being common in that type of wiring. Will it work in this project? Yeah, it will. It's a small job and can hopefully be traced easily without compromising safety.

For my credentials, I am an Extra class amateur radio operator. To be licensed, you have a good understanding of electricity since we build and work on radios with two or three thousand volts, and some with more voltage than that.
 

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MrJG

Large Fish
Dec 7, 2006
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#67
Thanks to BigRed and GIS guy for posting up these DIY lighting threads. I'm tempted to try this for my small 10 Gallon hex since enclosed lighting options are pretty slim. I have a few questions if you guys don't mind.

Currently there is a single 12" 8W 18000K Aqua-Glo light in the fixture. The tank is already fairly planted and most do fine with this light. I'm having issues when it comes to the lower level plants or ones with narrow leaves.

Would I be going to far by putting 2 - 14W 5500K Spiral bulbs in the fixture? Would the color spectrum change cause any kind of issues with plant growth or is it mainly an asthetic difference?
Also
I assume that when we are talking about the wattage on these spiral bulbs it is the actual wattage and not the light output that it compares to in a standard bulb. The 14W bulbs I looked at this afternoon compared to a 60W standard bulb... I just want to be sure I'm not going to be juicing the 10 Gal with serious algae issues if this is waaaay too much light.

Thanks in advance for your answers and guidance.

James
 

Oct 15, 2006
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#68
MrJG, I was in the same situation as you, and I have a 10 gallon hex. I used to have that same tube, the AquaGlo. You will need to be seeing the wattages as fluorescent, not incandescent, because incandescents are just too inefficient. Two 14 watt bulbs WILL NOT fit. You can do one 14/13/15 watt bulb, or do two 10 watt bulbs. In my signature, there is the link to my two DIY hoods, with the 10 gallon hex hood on the last pages. I had started out with one single 15W 6500K bulb, which you will see in the pictures. I have now changed to two 10 watt bulbs, with the base in the middle and the lights pointing outwards. I had to make several changes, such as doing some of the wiring outside, drilling holes, and moving the switch to have the lights fit in easily and with enough space around them. I don't have pictures of the new ones yet though, I set that up just today.
 

GIS Guy

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Feb 18, 2004
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#69
MrJG said:
Thanks to BigRed and GIS guy for posting up these DIY lighting threads. I'm tempted to try this for my small 10 Gallon hex since enclosed lighting options are pretty slim.
Thnx for the compliment.*twirlysmi

MrJG said:
Would I be going to far by putting 2 - 14W 5500K Spiral bulbs in the fixture?
Dual 14w would create 2.8 wpg.
This may cause some unwanted additional algae growth.
You may want to begin somewhere around 1.5 - 2 wpg.

MrJG said:
Would the color spectrum change cause any kind of issues with plant growth or is it mainly an asthetic difference?
The spectrum change won't really affect the plant growth.
Mainly you will be concerned about the brightness of the light; lumens.

MrJG said:
I assume that when we are talking about the wattage on these spiral bulbs it is the actual wattage and not the light output that it compares to in a standard bulb. The 14W bulbs I looked at this afternoon compared to a 60W standard bulb... I just want to be sure I'm not going to be juicing the 10 Gal with serious algae issues if this is waaaay too much light.
The wattage measurement will be the consumption of the bulb.
For instance a 14w Flourescent bulb will replace a 60w Incandescent, but you will measure it as 14w.
Your 10g tank with a 14w bulb will have 14w / 10g = 1.4 watts per gallon.
1.4 wpg would probably get you started pretty good.
 

MrJG

Large Fish
Dec 7, 2006
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Lancaster, S.C.
#71
Thanks again for the replies.

On the dual 14W not fitting:
I thought I had measured out everything fairly well and it even appeared that I would be able to pop my lunar light back in there also (which I retrofitted previously). I guess once I get down to gutting the fixture again that should be fairly apparent before anything major happens.

Tropicalfish: Thanks for the heads up on this stuff. Its nice to know that someone else has run into this with the hex and overcome the lighting issue.
The light selection at my local Home depot seemed to be lacking a little in bulb choices. Am i correct that I need to be sticking with the ones that are "full daylight"? I'll check with the depot in the town where I work and see if there is more of a selection.

GIS Guy:
I was hoping to get fairly close to that magic 2 watts per gallon mark but I think I was thrown off a bit with the bulb selection. 2 - 10W bulbs would certainly do the trick but they didn't have any at the depot.

Is heat really a big issue with these even at the lower wattages?

Edit: Oh yea almost forgot. The reflective tape... where did you find that?
 

GIS Guy

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Feb 18, 2004
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#72
Compact Fs produce much more heat in the enclosed space.
This is due to the nature of the bulb + the balast.
You will want to leave the venting open and elevate the hood maybe 1/8 inch for air circulation.
I have melted my plastic hood with CFs.
I then installed cooling fans.
 

cchase85

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Jun 6, 2006
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#73
This is a good thread, it got kind of sidetracked for a while.

If I was running a 20 gallon tank and wanted 2 watts/gallon, do I go by the CF rating or the incandescent equivalent? It sounded like a few posts ago I should go by the CF rating. That would mean 2 20 watt CF bulbs, correct?

Do flourescent tubes go by a flourescent rating or by an incandescent equivalent? That is, the 18 watt flourescent tube that came in the hood, is it 18 watt like the 20 W CF bulb, or like an 18 watt incandescent? Judging by the amount of light, I am thinking the former.


As a sidenote, jefftaylor or whatever his name was is partially correct/partially not. Most Romex is rated for 600V. Bigred is right in saying that it's the current that matters, not the voltage. However, usually you don't want to use braided wire in AC stuff, but like someone else said, this is a pretty small application. JT was also right in saying that it should not be out in the open, as it is a wet environment and should technically be in a waterproof box.

Another thing, there is no positive and negative wire in AC. Black is hot, white is neutral, and green is ground. White is the reference and for all intents and purposes is the ground in 2 prong applications.

This project is a good start for someone that wants to try their own DIY lighting system, but don't let an electrical inspector see it. OR an electrician, as I believe they are required to report code violations if they see them.

If an EE gave this thing the green light, I'd make sure I didn't buy anything he worked on.

Not that I am condemning the project, as it is a good homemade project and will work fine... just saying.


Another question for GIS Guy though... how many CF's in what kind of space did you have that you needed cooling fans? Just curious what I might run into when I do it myself...
 

GIS Guy

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Feb 18, 2004
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#74
cchase85 said:
If I was running a 20 gallon tank and wanted 2 watts/gallon, do I go by the CF rating or the incandescent equivalent? It sounded like a few posts ago I should go by the CF rating. That would mean 2 20 watt CF bulbs, correct?
You would measure by the CF rating, not the Incan. equivalent.
20w x 2 = 40w / 20g = 2wpg, you are correct.

cchase85 said:
Do flourescent tubes go by a flourescent rating or by an incandescent equivalent? That is, the 18 watt flourescent tube that came in the hood, is it 18 watt like the 20 W CF bulb, or like an 18 watt incandescent? Judging by the amount of light, I am thinking the former.
Tubes are measured by a flourescent rating.
Watts is how much energy the bulb consumes.
It is more like the 18w CF, but the CF bulbs have much higher lumens.
Lumens is the measure of brightness.

cchase85 said:
Another question for GIS Guy though... how many CF's in what kind of space did you have that you needed cooling fans? Just curious what I might run into when I do it myself...
I have Lights of America bulbs.
The bulbs are U shaped rather than spiral.
There are 2 x 20w & 1 x 25w for a total of 3 bulbs @ 65w.
This gave me 3.25wpg on my 20g.
The algae was a big problem so it is now at 2.25wpg.
They produced a lot of heat.
I installed them into a 24" plastic hood.
Then I moved them into the oak plywood hood.
 

MrJG

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Dec 7, 2006
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#76
Well I took a little ride yesterday afternoon and can't seem to find suitable bulbs anywhere and I'm worried about the heat issues anyway so I think I'm going to scratch the DIY idea :(

Thinking about ordering one of these today:
Compact Fluorescent Aquarium Lighting: Single Satellite Compact Fluorescent Fixtures
and getting a dual daylight bulb with it... gets me to 18W with no worries, Need to order some other animal supplies anyway.

If anyone knows or has experience with this brand please do shoot me a message. I'd hate to hijack such a good thread.
 

Oct 15, 2006
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#77
For the hexagon tank, it will be a little wide the short side. Some light will not be able to pass through the glass. My DIY project on my light cost me less than 20 dollars. Heat should not be too big of a problem. The vents can be left open, or have two of the 3 parts covered max.
 

#78
I'mmm baaacckkk!

Hey people, I've been gone a while; It's nice to see this thread is helping people. To all who contributed, thanks.

This project is a good start for someone that wants to try their own DIY lighting system, but don't let an electrical inspector see it. OR an electrician, as I believe they are required to report code violations if they see them.

If an EE gave this thing the green light, I'd make sure I didn't buy anything he worked on.
Hahaha, That is amusing. True, this definately wouldn't pass an inspection; it is merely something to get the job done. My EE friend is a good guy; he looke it over and said I would'nt burn the house down; he made no promises about passing code;)
 

Oct 15, 2006
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#79
bigredspecial said:
That looks fine. Either way will work for the switch, but wireing it all up will probably be easier if the switch is before the seperate wires (As in, big wire-switch-more big wire-individual wires).

PS: make sure you put the switch on the negative side - the side with the smaller plug.
Sorry,..... but the switch goes on the hot wire, or the positive wire.

If the wires are black and white, black is the hot, wire is the neutral.
If the wires are black and red, the black is the neutral, the red is the hot. Most wiring now is black and white.

If the switch goes on the neutral wire, the appliance/bulb will still be live. This is VERY dangerous.

:D