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Algae Scrubber Basics 8 of 14

Posted 02/19/2012 at 09:33 AM by Floyd R Turbo

Linear CFL

Linear CFL lamps are commonly referred to as twin, triple, or quad tube, etc. They are similar in nature to Power Compacts in that the lamp is in a “U” shape, but commonly have an integrated ballast like a CFL. They are usually higher wattage than standard CFLs, are more intense, and can run hotter. However, since they use the screw-in base just like CFLs, they are easy to use and I have recently looked at a couple of nice builds using them, so I thought it was worth adding a section covering them.

Linear CFLs would be installed similar to the sideways spiral CFL, hanging the lamp from above. Reflectors are generally the same principle; however the source is now more linear, so your reflector in turn should follow the line of the lamp and curve around it. Here are a few of the better ideas for this that I’ve seen. One uses cut-up linear fluorescent reflectors, the other uses mirrored acrylic.

A reflector similar to the last one in the spiral CFL section could be done. Because the lamp profile is more linear, the reflector would be slightly different dimensions – probably more square than rectangular.

Floodlight CFL

The floodlight CFL is simply a spiral CFL enclosed in a lamp housing like you would see for a standard incandescent floodlight. They are not very efficient at spreading light when placed in close proximity to the screen, as the light is diffused at the end of the ‘bulb’ and the reflector is of a small diameter. However, they are good for use on smaller, narrower screens – ones that have one dimension less than 6 inches. They should generally not be used for primary lighting, unless you are running a small Algae Scrubber. With the new screen sizing guidelines, the use of these CFLs for quick-and-dirty builds is a little more acceptable, but they are still relatively inefficient, so you will likely need to use more wattage than you normally would.

You can see in this picture that the floodlight only provides significant light to the area directly in front of the lamp – and that’s the only place that’s going to provide adequate filtration:

They can be useful in situations where space is highly restricted, but for larger Algae Scrubbers, more total wattage will likely be required over what would normally be needed.

They can also be helpful to supplement light from dome-reflector setups that just need a little more light but there’s not enough space for another dome.

One thing to remember when handling CFLs: install them gently. Most people are used to twisting in an incandescent lamp tightly. CFLs fracture easily at the base where the element (tube) meets up with the ballast. Cranking on them like causes these fractures. So if you can't grab on to the base to tighten, just get the lamp in there snug enough for the connection to be made. This goes for the lights in your house and office also - it's the #1 reason why CFLs burn out early.
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