Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    68

    DIY metal halide ballasts

     Looking for huge bang for your buck? Here is what I've been doing for the past 5 years. I buy my bare ballasts at Litemore or Nedco. Typically a 250 or 400 watt ballast is about $65. I mount the ballast(s) in a $10 Canadian tire red toolbox. You can buy rubber lamp cord for the output to mogul socket and 6' extension cord to cut off the female end for your power input. You need a few electrical grommets and a green lee 1" punch for making holes in the toolbox.
     Upper valley hydoponics will sell you an electrical box with a ceramic mogul socket. They also have some excellent reflector material there. I would suggest always mounting metal halides in the horizontal mode for better light transmission. The reflector serves also as a heat shield if you use a wood canopy.
     You should use a fan to cool your bulb(s). This increases the service life of your expensive bulbs which is typically about 12-14 months. The 4" Radio Shack fan at about $40 is the best as it is very quiet and rebuildable as seen in other posts. Always have the fan blowing into your hood. This prevents salt creep from destroying your fan.
     If you exclude canopy costs you can have a $100 metal halide bulb installed for about $240.
    From the latest Lee Valley catalogue " a 1000 watt halide's output equals 500 40 watt flourescent tubes". For marine applications you cannot get the intensity with even VHO or PC.
    Another tip is you should have a switch mounted for each Halide ballast for convinience.
     Any other thoughts about DIY metal halide setups out there?
    True Perc

  2. #2
    ijo
    ijo is offline
    Moderator
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    6,610

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    Percula... that was awesome..  

    You have any pics of the light setup you just described?

    If you don't mind and I end up at your place for some reason or another (probably a drop off), maybe I could bring a digital camera and take some pics of your setup. 8)

    Thanks again for the great DIY info.

    IJO


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    116

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    I did the same basically, but put the ballast and capacitor in a home depot 10X10 electrical box. $17.
    A couple of suggestions. Go grounded 3 prong plug, too much water to fool around with, and if you're doing M.H. lamps, get high temperature cord.

    My arrangement goes like this, power bar, to heavy duty timer, to on/off switch, to ballasts, to lamp. That way i can turn the lamps off for maintenance without affecting the timers. Same for fluorescents. Everything is 3 wire. ( hot, neutral and ground). All are mounted on a 2X2 ft piece of plywood.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mouse6196's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    672

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    For the fans, hit the surplus stores...i bought 2 four inch fans for $8.  That's in Kitchener, but I recall a good surplus store from when I live in Manotick (near Ottawa).  I'm sure Ottawa had a surplus store.  I but alot of useful stuff in these stores.  Even water pumps, lighting accesories, wiring, tape, grommets, electrical tools, you name it, they get it in,  Also a great place to buy scrap lexan, plastic, acrylic etc.  They usually sell that stuff by the pound.  Just FYI
    The only thing two reef keepers will agree on, is what the third reef keeper is doing wrong!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    606

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    Best fans are the Toyo Fans. I got some of these after burning through 3 radio shack fans in 1 year. These fans push way more air with half the power consumption. They are ball bearing fans as opposed to the shaft style that radio shack uses. Price is the same.
    An example. I have the ones that push 96 cfm and only consume 11 watts of power with a db rating of 36!
    Way better than the radio shack.
    www.ustoyofan.com
    ________
    Tanks: 400 gal Reef, 180 gal FOWLR, 300 gal Sump, 40 gal Frag Tray plumbed as one system - 900 gal total water volume.
    DIY Calcium Reactor, Nielson Reactor and Skimmer

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    290

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    hi, i've also made up my own 3 x 175 advance ballast box\lighting. When i designed the ballast
    box i also used a toolbox to contain the 3 ballasts and caps. I also installed a cooling fan to keep the ballasts cool with holes installed on the opposite side of the toolbox to allow cool air in
    (fan on back of toolbox blows warm air out). Over the next few months i plan on switching over to 250w Iwasaki bulbs which will require 3 new 250w ballasts. That said i will again build my own
    enclosure to house the 3 ballasts. This time i would like to use something other then a toolbox.
    Does anyone have any idea where a commercial type box with maybe even heatsinks can be found. I would like to build something like what can be purchased from some of the online places which appear to be aluminum cases.

    thanks, Jeff

  7. #7
    Senior Member Andy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    138

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    Hi there.

    Here's a excerpt from a post I put on Reef Central of my new DIY MH/VHO retrofit.

    "Well, I'm pretty excited about my new lighting system for my 280 gallon reef. I've been lighting this reef with 6 VHO fluorescents for the last year and a half and haven't been all that satisfied with the colours of my sps corals. I get great growth with the VHOs but so so colours. I'd gladly trade off growth for colour. My new lighting setup is completely DIY. Many thanks go out to a couple of people. You both know who you are. I've decided to go with three 400 watt Radiums and two five foot VHO actinics for early morning and late night viewing. The lighting is mounted on a polished stainless steel reflector which I am told will never rust. Something about the impecable quality of the stainless steel. The ballast box is custom built and contains 3 son agro 430 watt HPS ballasts. The ballast box is cooled with an internal fan. Two of the ballasts are hooked up to one plug and the third to a second plug for staggered on/off lighting. I'll be plugging each plug into separate 15 amp circuits. The ballast box also contains an internal timer. Can't wait to get it mounted into my hood. The VHO setup will be sold once I'm convinced this is the lighting setup for me. Something tells me I won't be looking back. I've attached a few pics of the lighting and ballast box. I felt like I needed a welders mask when I took the shot with the MH lights on. I wonder what kind of heat I'm gonna generate. Hope my Ice-Cap fans can keep up. I'll post more pics once the lighting system is fully installed.

    Andy






  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    290

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    very well done Andy.

    Jeff

  9. #9
    ijo
    ijo is offline
    Moderator
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    6,610

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    I met Andy from another board.. and asked if I could reference his DIY.... he did even better than that and posted it himself.. the box looks awesome Andy... welcome to Aquaria Canada.  ;D

    IJO

  10. #10
    Senior Member Fishysan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    368

    Re: DIY metal halide ballasts

    great info for sure!

    reeferboy, I have to get me some of those toyo fans too, my radioshacks aren't dead yet, but they are noisy on start up, and I need more of them anyway.

    do rember all - do not blow air directly onto your MH/MV bulbs, it will cause color shifts, and shorten their lifespan. They have high operating temperatures. You do want to move the hot air from above the tank out of course.
    Fishysan ><>
    ---
    180g display main floor, 150g trough, 75g, 20g in basement
    SPS, LPS, softies, many clams & 14 fish
    main: 250w AB DE HQI x 3, 5' x 3 VHO actinic - trough: 400w venki

Similar Threads

  1. metal halide vs. T5
    By jobymoby123 in forum Lighting, Filtration & Other Equipment
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 04-01-2009, 02:24 PM
  2. HQI Metal Halide
    By badmedicine in forum Lighting, Filtration & Other Equipment
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-06-2005, 10:23 AM
  3. HQI Metal Halide
    By badmedicine in forum Just Getting Started
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-06-2005, 01:49 AM
  4. Metal halide box?
    By fishy_business in forum DIY - Do it Yourself
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-03-2004, 12:43 PM
  5. building your own METAL HALIDE ballasts
    By cman in forum DIY - Do it Yourself
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 06-03-2004, 11:44 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •