My super cheap CFL DIY light hood

  1. Trowski Initiate Member

    So like many people out there in the fish world, I have been looking for a cheap way to improve my aquarium lighting. After quite a bit of research, I determined I would try to use spiral CFLs to improve my tank lighting. I know there are many people who will probably not agree with this but I was not at all excited about spending hundreds of dollars on a specialty fixture and replacement bulbs, just to grow "high light" plants. I also understand there are many advantages to the expensive lights, but ultimately the largest factor was cost for me.

    So this conversion cost me just under $40, I used my standard 18 watt T8 hood and retrofit it with a duel socket fixture and installed two 40 watt spiral CFL bulbs (which is equivalent to two 150 watt incandescent bulbs). These bulbs are (daylight) 6500K light bulbs putting out 2800 lumens. They only cost $10 a piece and are much more reasonable then T5s or T2s. I'm not even going to attempt to be a light guru but all my reading made one thing very apparent and that was most of the old thoughts about lighting (i.e. watts per gallon theory or the amount of light restrike) really don't apply that well with newer lighting systems.

    Below I have listed some of the more helpful websites about lighting. These can be a bit in-depth to the normal user but very helpful in sorting through some of the misinformation out there. There are many more websites out there but this was my favorite. I put in "before and after" photos and a couple of the fixture itself. If anyone has any questions please let me know.

    American Aquarium
    http:///Aquarium_Lighting.html#led

    http:// /PowerCompact.html#cart

    Duel light fixture
    http://www.amazon.com/Leviton-4015-D4F-Multi-Cluster-Incandescent-Lampholder/dp/B000HJD9NY

    Light bulbs
    http://www.elightbulbs.com/Westinghouse-37919-42TWIST-65-Dimmable-Compact-Fluorescent-Light-Bulb
     

    Attached Files:

  2. FiremouthGuy Well Known Member Member

    Awesome! The tank looks much brighter now.
     

  3. ZeeZ Well Known Member Member

    You could put aluminum foil in that as a reflector. Cheap and works much better than the standard reflector.

    I may do this with my 20g light that doesn't work even with a new light bulb. It'd be a nice way of salvaging my light.
     

  4. Trowski Initiate Member

    Yea, I was thinking about adding the foil, might be a project for this weekend. It might be worth a try to salvage your old light hood, you could probably do for very cheap, just make sure you get the 6500k CFLs, sometimes the packaging doesn't list that information.
     

  5. Akari_32 Fishlore Legend Member

    Neat project, and great looking tank!

    This is a very good idea! I had a hood (ok, two hoods worth of parts, but none of them went together lol) that didnt work that I could have done this to lol
     
  6. striker Member Member

    Very nice build. :) I have one similar with 2 13watt daylight 5500k cfls.
     
  7. Martin 75g Member Member

    hrmmm so i have a 75g has 2 long bulbs of 40w each..... i was thinking of attaching bulbs to my canopy because im like you and dont want to pay for plastic hood that is at retail 279.99 <---- No Ty but im not sure how many bulbs to input into my conopy.... was thinking at least 2 but mabey 3.... any thoughts ?
     
  8. markedblue83 Member Member

    This looks great!

    I am looking for ways to beef up my lighting... Ironically we have the same 28 bow front tank. (I think)

    Was this project hard? I am really interested in doing it. Have you noticed any response from your plants?
     
  9. Trowski Initiate Member

    It kinda depends on the amount of space you have and how much power you want. You would probably be good with two bulbs if you went with the large 65w or 85w SHO bulbs but they are 4" wide and 10" long so they are bit big and hard to put in a hood. Thats why I went with the 42w ones because they were smaller and would fit in my original hood. That being said I still had to retro a couple inches of more height to my hood.

    The project was pretty simple, the hardest part was extending the bottom of the hood with some 1/4 inch painted plywood to accommodate the bulbs. So, I started with my stock hood and removed the 18w tube light fixture (just 4 screws). I tried using the original hole in the hood but ended up having to drill a new hole in the back of the hood to lower the double socket fixture to allow space for the bulbs. The bulbs have about a 1/2 inch of room on all sides, which should be plenty since the bulbs don't run that hot (I can unscrew them while they are on). By lowering the fixture the bulbs extended below the bottom of the hood so I used some 1/4 inch plywood and extended the hood about 2 more inches. I used a combo of glue and silicone to adhere it to the hood. I am a bit of a stickler about making my aquarium look good so I spent most of my time on the the hood extension to make it look great. As for hooking up the lights I just bought a cord from ACE hardware and attacked it to the double socket wires. All of my plants have very much so greened up and grown. Unfortunately, they were not in great shape prior to the new light because I was using such poor lighting before, so they started a bit behind. I also started using Flourish Excel which seems to be helping alot too.
     
  10. Martin 75g Member Member

    well i bought 2 x 100w 6500k They arent the show, but have increased my lighting !!
     
  11. Cieco Initiate Member

    This was a great idea! i replaced the strip light in my hood with the twin bulb fixture and it worked great. The hardest part was finding the part which was just a walk to the hardware store!
     
  12. ashleywilson1024 Initiate Member

    I got my light about three weeks ago and i love it ! Its on my 125 gal and is a 322 watts with leds built in . I got if off of www.aquatraders.com i couldnt believe the prices..thats why i was kind of scared to buy it thinking it would be poor aquality but it is really better than my friends coralife light he just bought for a couple hundred bucks! Anyway I just thought this might help.