Understanding and choosing t5 Ballast. diy

banthonyb71

New member
Just a heads up, I will be actively involved in this thread and I plan on acting on every diy I inquire about on this forum, I do not want to waste your valued time asking questions I never plan to commit too.

There are several projects I wanted to try diy and although a t5 fixture is not at the top of the list. it something that will keep my attention being that concerns electronics is more of my feild than anything else.

I wanted to build a t5 fixture from the ground up but first, I wanted to learn everything I can about t5 ballast, what makes one better than the other, which one is better for this hobby.

The sticky on this thread there is a links page that has a company that sells electronic ballast. If I wanted to use one of these ballasts for a diy as oppose to using old icecap ballasts or ballasts from a branded fixture. What am I looking for? ie.e wattage, voltage, efficiency? and I know this is alot to ask to be explain but.. is there already a page with this information on it? or someone who has done this before?
 

tkeracer619

Premium Member
If you run a vue 660 (icecap) you are going to overdrive the t5 bulbs. They need fans and won't last as long.

I just setup a diy fixture for my nem tank.
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I used 6 39w t5 with individual reflectors. Running 3 Sylvania 51479 ballasts. These are proper t5 ballasts that will not overdrive the bulbs.
 

banthonyb71

New member
If you run a vue 660 (icecap) you are going to overdrive the t5 bulbs. They need fans and won't last as long.

Running 3 Sylvania 51479 ballasts. These are proper t5 ballasts that will not overdrive the bulbs.

but what makes one ballast better than another. what are things you look for in a quality ballast?
 

tkeracer619

Premium Member
The bulbs need fans not the ballast when overdriven. Can't tell you what makes a good ballast but the sylvanias seem to be trusted and recommended as being good actual t5 ballasts. Vue and Workhorse aren't. It has to do with the start iirc.

Those ballasts I used came with a 5 year warranty as well.
 

banthonyb71

New member
The bulbs need fans not the ballast when overdriven. Can't tell you what makes a good ballast but the sylvanias seem to be trusted and recommended as being good actual t5 ballasts. Vue and Workhorse aren't. It has to do with the start iirc.

Those ballasts I used came with a 5 year warranty as well.

lol. you seem adamant about talking me out of a ballast, I never said I wanted to use. Actually, I only mentioned that ballast because I wanted to do the opposite and avoid its mention because every search I've done on the subject, those ballast get talked about alot. but I'm just curious about ballast in general. If such info does exist. Not so much about brands or model numbers.
 

uncleof6

New member
I wasnt particularly wanting to use that ballast but since you mentioned it. Could you not set up a diy system to cool those ballasts?

and are these the same ballasts?
http://www.marinedepot.com/CoralVue...m_Ballasts-CoralVue-CV1613-FILTACBAFL-vi.html

These ballasts can and have caused catastrophic failure of T5/HO lamps. Due to catastrophic failures, IceCap was forced to have special lamps manufactured. They went kaput a while back. 660s (and 440s) are not T5/HO ballasts, (T5/VHO is a myth) they are T12/VHO ballasts, and do not have the proper current limiting required by T5/HO lamps, nor do they have the proper start characteristics for T5/HO lamps, or the end of life circuitry. Sure folks use them, but that does not make it safe, advisable, or even necessary. It just means folks do it. All in all, you are just burning more watts to drive a lighting technology that is supposed to be more efficient than T12: a self defeating way to do things. If one really wishes to burn up the watts, build a T12/VHO fixture! Stunning displays are possible with T12/VHO, and T8 as well... I have seen them. Snoop around GARF.org, if ya think I am out of my mind... ;):wavehand:

If the temperature of the lamp is not correct, the output decreases. Excessively overheating of the lamps, cannot be covered up by cooling fans. T5/HO is a very different technology than T12 or T8. T5/HO is also the very first fluorescent technology that requires an electronic ballast, and there is no magnetic ballast that will run them.

There is absolutely no reason to overdrive T5/HO lamps. Normally driven T5/HO with good quality reflectors, is capable of everything that MH has done. If you have a deep dimensioned tank (top to bottom) you may have to be more selective as to where you place your critters, or just go back to Metal Halide. There is also a great deal of mythology surrounding the actual light needs of the critters we keep, so that needs to be kept in mind. I run clams in the sand on 29" tall tanks, anyone can, using normally driven T5/HO. (There is a plenum system in the bottom, but who is looking. ;) )

T5/HO ballasts are application specific. Each ballast is intended to run one type of T5/HO lamp, F54T5/HO for instance, for a 48" (46.something actually) 54 watt T5/HO lamp. (Other lamps may be listed, but they are related to T5/HO.) They use a programmed start, not an instant start. (Instant start can and does cause failure of the filaments, and cooling won't help.)

End of life circuitry is not critical really, as most often the lamps are replaced before they reach their end of life.

EDIT: So you heard the talk anyway LOL. Going to leave it here for others.

Advance ballasts are the most reliable T5/HO ballasts on the market. They are correct T5/HO ballasts, and are plenty for our purposes.

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That is an ICN-2S54 ballast from Advance. The light you see in the background is these lamps output reflecting off the ceiling. I typically run 8 - 12 over average sized tanks.
 
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banthonyb71

New member
EDIT: So you heard the talk anyway LOL. Going to leave it here for others.

Duly noted. lol. Stay away from Ice Cap for overdriving t5's. I can assure you, I have no interest in those ballasts. however, I read a thread in which you did recommend diy t5 fixture.

So lets ask this. what type of ballast is in say.. an ATI PowerModule?
 

uncleof6

New member
Duly noted. lol. Stay away from Ice Cap for overdriving t5's. I can assure you, I have no interest in those ballasts. however, I read a thread in which you did recommend diy t5 fixture.

So lets ask this. what type of ballast is in say.. an ATI PowerModule?

A T5/HO ballast of the proper specifications, made by HEP. They are electronic, programmed start ballasts, very much the same as the Advance ICN series.
 

banthonyb71

New member
A T5/HO ballast of the proper specifications, made by HEP. They are electronic, programmed start ballasts, very much the same as the Advance ICN series.

So.. is there 1 part number or different versions? I seen one had a 90c at the end of that part number.

I want to do 6 lamp 65 watt. how many ballasts would I need? 3?
 

uncleof6

New member
So.. is there 1 part number or different versions? I seen one had a 90c at the end of that part number.

I want to do 6 lamp 65 watt. how many ballasts would I need? 3?

65 watt is not a T5/HO Lamp, and part numbers are all different; 90c is a temperature.

There is 54 watt (F54T5HO; 48") or 80 watt (F80T5HO; 60".) ICN-2S54-T for 54 watt, and ICN-1S80-T for 80 watt lamps. Advance does not make a dual for 80 watt lamps. HEP ballast numbers are: SI254-58 UNI, and SI280 UNI, respectively.

For 6x 54 watt lamps you need three ballasts, for 80 watt, you need 3x ballasts if HEP, and 6x if using Advance.
 

banthonyb71

New member
65 watt is not a T5/HO Lamp, and part numbers are all different; 90c is a temperature.

There is 54 watt (F54T5HO; 48") or 80 watt (F80T5HO; 60".) ICN-2S54-T for 54 watt, and ICN-1S80-T for 80 watt lamps. Advance does not make a dual for 80 watt lamps. HEP ballast numbers are: SI254-58 UNI, and SI280 UNI, respectively.

For 6x 54 watt lamps you need three ballasts, for 80 watt, you need 3x ballasts if HEP, and 6x if using Advance.

sorry, I knew dat. 54 watts for my length. So u mentioned temp. are they different temperatures or was seller just mentioning that temp and adding to part number?

So I need INC-2s54-t

U sure bout this? cause Im gonna pull the trigger and buy these things. I've read through ur threads and Im trustin ur knowledge
 

tkeracer619

Premium Member
No, they are not different temps. That is the max case temp allowed. If it gets hotter the ballast will degrade.
 

uncleof6

New member
sorry, I knew dat. 54 watts for my length. So u mentioned temp. are they different temperatures or was seller just mentioning that temp and adding to part number?

So I need INC-2s54-t

U sure bout this? cause Im gonna pull the trigger and buy these things. I've read through ur threads and Im trustin ur knowledge

Advance Centium ICN-2S54, right from the ballast case. It is also listed in their catalog as ICN-2S54. Some places it is listed as ICN-2S54-T; even Advance has it listed that way in their spec sheets.

An ICN-2S54-90c-T ballast is the "same," but has a max ballast case temperature of 90°C for warranty purposes, rather than the standard 70°C warranty on the standard ICN-2S54-T.

The important part is the ICN-2S54, the line voltage: 120/277, and the line frequency: 50/60Hz.

Just for grins, the ballast frequency is above 40KHz.
 

banthonyb71

New member
Advance Centium ICN-2S54

As stated before, a t5 project was definitely something I was interested in making happen as soon as possible. but now I'm having doubts on if what I'm trying to do is smart. I wanted to attempt to make a t5 fixture from scratch. but I've been reading every thread I could find for the last several days and I dont see people doing what I'm trying to do. Essentially people either use retro kits or assemble a new fixture out of a fixture they already have. I dont have a fixture in the size I want.

Is there even a point in me buying these ballast if I have to buy them with a retro kit anyway?

If possible I would like to use high quality reflectors. but who makes them? Let? Ati? any recommendations on where I can buy individual parts or a way I can buy reflectors, balllasts, seperate?
 
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