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Old 07/04/2019, 12:01 PM   #1
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Question t5 DIY Question

This week the blue channel on my LED crapped out, leading to me to look at my options, and realizing how overpriced this industry can be. Slap on 'Marine' in front of everything and there goes a 200% markup. Which gets me to my point.

If I want to do t5's, can I not simply buy a regular t5 HO fixture from HomeDepot or a gardening supply store (grow light) and use it? I look at the ATI's and other vendors and for $600+, can't seem to find the value in $60 worth of sheet metal and a couple of fans. Maybe I'm missing something.

Unfortunately for some reason, the DIY Forum is only showing me 5 entries, but I was hoping someone's posted a DIY on making a 2 channel dimming Apex compatible t5 fixture.

For sizing, I have a 120xl tank, 18wide, 5ft long.....would 48" length be adequate or would the full 60" be ideal? I couldn't find sizing recommendations.

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Old 07/04/2019, 05:49 PM   #2
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BRS (and other companies) sell all the quality components needed to retrofit t5's in a canopy. It still won't be cheep to do it right. good reflectors alone are $20+ each. I'd think twice about getting a cheap t5 fixture and expecting it to work near as well as an ATI fixture. I have a t5 retrofit in my canopy, by the time I bought everything including 5 fans it probably cost more than the ATI fixture but I think my set-up is better...

Please don't feed the bears because the bears will become dependent on free handouts and forget how to take care of themselves ...

Current Tank Info: 75 Gal. Mixed reef mostly sps
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Old 07/06/2019, 11:17 AM   #3
Michael Hoaster
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I agree, the aquarium biz markup can be a bit much. It shouldn't be too hard to add up the costs and compare. For my metal halide setup, I bought both my ballast and bulb from the indoor plant growing biz and saved a significant amount of cash.

As many naturalists and environmentalists have suggested, we should set aside our arrogance,
our desire to conquer and control everything, and walk hand in hand with Mother Nature. -Walter Adey

Current Tank Info: 180g Seagrass Sandbar Lagoon, START DATE November 28, 2018
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Old 07/07/2019, 11:46 AM   #4
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the default is to show only the last week's worth of posts. Select a longer duration at the bottom of the main diy page to see more posts.

and of course the search function.

Don't skimp on ballasts and bulbs, and depending on your layout, cooling is usually important for maintaining bulb spectrum/output, but can be done cheaply.

A single 1" aluminum square pipe from a big box, a bit longer than the bulbs, with a pair of encap mounts mounted sidewise on each side of the pipe and the bulbs running parallel alongside each side the pipe, strikes me as the best minimalist way to go. Just hang the pipe. Use as many pipes (each with a pair of bulbs) as needed.

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Old 07/13/2019, 02:25 PM   #5
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Good T5 reflectors have a basic w shape to them with the outer legs of the w longer. The purpose is to get as much light as possible directed down into the tank. Lots of venders sell reflectors separately including Marine Depot and BRS.
The fixtures from HD and the like do not have that feature. Their reflectors are better than a 1” aluminum tub by far! Just not as good as a quality aquarium T5 refector. They also are not dimming and do not have splash shields. All bulbs are on one cord/switch and they do not have fans.
A 1” square aluminum tube would make a horrible reflector. The light coming out the sides or top of the bulb would just be reflected back on the bulb, wasting a large portion of the light and causing the bulbs to heat up even more decreasing their life span signifantly. I you want a truly cheep DIY reflector just use 1.25” or 1.5 white PVC cut in half lengthwise. Probably still not as good as a Home Depot fixture would be.
The 3” at the ends of T5 bulbs get the hottest. Cooling fans help keep them cooler increasing bulb life. As far as dimming goes, I don’t think it is worth worrying about. I think it is just marketing hype. The dimming fixtures I have seen do not dim enough to matter in my opinion. It is barely noticeable to most people. Definatly not anything like a LED can.

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Old 07/13/2019, 08:26 PM   #6
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sorry, I didn'[t mean for the aluminum square pipe to be the reflector. It is meant to be the structural member, with a bulb on each side, each with it's own clip on reflector.

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