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Carissa 08-16-2008 06:36 AM

How to switch fluorescent lights
I'm making my own lighting system for my aquarium, and what I would like to know is this:

I'm planning on using 1 ballast meant to drive 4 lights to drive 2 (overdrive the lights 2x). Therefore, two wires would run to one end of each bulb, instead of one wire running to one bulb. Anyway, I would like to be able to do two things - switch each bulb on independently (i.e. not the whole ballast, just one bulb at a time); and I would like to be able to switch whether I am overdriving the bulbs either 1x or 2x. In other words, my idea is to install a switch which will connect either zero, 1, or 2 of the 'hot' wires to the end of each bulb. Will this work, or does a certain number of wires need to be in use at any given time in order for power to be going through it? It is a GE432-120RES-DIY ballast, it says it can drive either 3 or 4 T8's of different sizes. Incidentally, I will be running T12's, which as I understand it may have a slightly shorter life due to the instant start on this ballast which is made for the higher power requirements of T8's. This doesn't concern me since I have to replace the bulbs at least yearly anyway.

jbfan 08-16-2008 11:12 AM

First and formost, you can not over drive the lamp. The lamp will light to the brightness designed, and will not be dimmer than designed.
Also using a t-8 ballast to drive t-12 lamps will not only shorten the life of the lamps, but the ballast as well.
Your best bet is to find something made for this application.

chris75 08-16-2008 02:15 PM

Yeah, bad idea, try this sight.

Carissa 08-16-2008 02:28 PM

Overdriving lamps is a very common application for reef tanks - just do a search on ODNO (over driven normal output). I'm already doing it on another tank, and it provides approximately a 50% increase in brightness.

My question isn't whether I can overdrive the lamps, it's whether I can switch the lines powering the bulbs independently.

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