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Vivarium lighting

Discussion in 'Live Plants' started by JohnDapiaoen, Apr 10, 2017.

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    I'm going to start lighting a few vivariums for live plants. I have a couple larger tanks already illuminated but what would be the most effective way to light multiple small vivariums(Exoterra nanos) that are next to each other? Should I just buy a light hood that would be able to extend to all the tanks or multiple indevidual hoods/domes and somehow hook them up to a single outlet? What would be the most energy saving form of lighting? As in wont rack up my energy bill. I'm sure dart frog experts would know.

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2017
  2. ArachnoSkull

    ArachnoSkull Arachnopeon

    Hi John, As I'm sure you know Lights and T's don't mix to well and most can even kill them, Way back in the day I used the 36-Inch Exo Terra Reptile UVB Fluorescent Lights on my display wall But hade to come up with a way to keep them cool without blowing my t's around. So came up with 3 nice custom made hoods built into a three level shelf each hade 3 5-inch computer fans "one in back and one on each end" and for the hood I used 1-inch thick plywood and Polycarbonate Greenhouse Cover"top and sides were made of plywood the bottom was Polycarbonate Greenhouse Cover that could be taken on and off via a little track that I carved into the wood" It worked Great for about 7 years with little to no heat problems and grew plants like crazy and in time the plants started to block out the light, But it was big and bulky and hade to be cleaned of dust every month and I hade a few fans crap out on me over time. After that I started using LEDS I started with a plant grow led hood for fish and planted tanks but the light was Way to bright for my T"s Next I tied Jungle Dawn LED Terrarium Lights They worked great on tanks 18-inches high and up but for my smaller tanks 8 to 6 inches high and under well as my display wall I used 2 rows of led strip light each hooked up to a timer and a dimer I used LED Strip Plant Grow Light and rgb led strip lights I've been using the leds for since 2012 and they work great so far! Hope that helps!

    • Informative Informative x 2
  3. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    LED's are great, as arachnoskull said. Relative to the intensity of the light they produce, they emit much less heat than any other kind of bulb, which solves most of the problems with lights.

    Example: I use 2 2500 lumen LED's to grow my carnivorous plants. That light intensity would require an over 150W incandescent light and I think almost 40W fluorescent. But the LED's go just fine in a 15W lamp, because the heat emitted is equivalent (be careful, of course, to convert when you buy--a light that emits too much heat for a socket is a fire hazard).
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  4. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    That is impressive. BTW, if you have LED 'bulbs' that become significantly warm, they are often cheap crap. Instead of a sophisticated and much more expensive voltage and current regulating circuit they use a simple voltage divider - current limiter.

    A voltage divider is a quick and dirty way to go. Take your household wiring. A hot, 120 volt AC wire, and a neutral. Now take two resistors connected end to end and bridge across the hot and the neutral. The voltage between the two resistors is divided, the resistors getting hot and wasting the energy that makes them hot.

    For example, my tiny 3 LED reading light has a ventilated housing but still gets so hot it will burn your fingers. It uses 12 watts of juice. But only ~2 watts is used by the LEDs, the rest is burned by a voltage divider.

    You need to be careful with voltage divider LED lighting. Though small, those resistors get hot enough to distort or even melt acrylics.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
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  5. brolloks

    brolloks Arachnobaron

  6. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    I'm not sure that I would use those--they don't give you a lumen value, and they use 200W, which is a huge amount for LEDs.

    I just use regular LED "bulbs" in regular lamps, but if that's not practical for you, you can try some kind LED tube, maybe. I personally just like having complete control over the intensity of the light.
  7. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Do I ever smell a used car lot/aluminum siding sales pitch:
    • Compares to traditional 400 watt HPS/MH while consuming only 200 watts! Perfect for a 2.5x2.5’ growing area at 24” height (Max coverage 3.5x3.5’).
    • Upgraded 4.72” fans and big aluminum cooling heat sinks (0.8” height) are easy for heat dissipation.

    Compares to 400 watts High Pressure Sodium / Metal Halide... which? HPS is about 3 times more efficient but has a much narrower spectrum. What the heck is burning all those watts?
    Upgraded 4.72" fans... Upgraded from what? Big aluminum heat sinks... 3/4 of an inch high? Are easy for heat dissipation? Who wrote this? ESL? Does s/he have a criminal record for bunko?

    What you have there, aside from a light source, is a pretty efficient convection room heater. Include that aspect when considering a purchase. Would be great for a room in colder climes, but ... ~5 KW / day = 150 KW /month = a meter spinner.

    Since this doesn't source full spectrum, only shoving them photons through filters. consider buying the most efficient bright white LED array you can and shine it at a rainbow painted on the wall or ceiling.
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  8. brolloks

    brolloks Arachnobaron

    Ok, so I have been doing some digging and found that some of the "best" sites to read about grow lights are the "Herb".."cough..cough" sites :cigar: since these guys want the best bang for their buck.

    Came across a very interesting article: http://www.epicgardening.com/best-full-spectrum-led-grow-lights/

    Here is one that stood out, but DAMN it is pricey! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NTBS91Y/?tag=420beginner.com-20

    If money was not an issue, I think this one would be brilliant: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IYSPN4I/?tag=420beginner.com-20

    Here is another mentioned light, not the best but it is on promotion at the moment. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00INM0750/?tag=420beginner.com-20
    Last edited: May 30, 2017
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  9. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    @brolloks Consumers nightmare. Actually, the selection of lighting is even worse than most people think.

    A friend of mine owns a huge hydroponics business and I had the bright idea (pardon) of asking him what lights they recommend. His reply, "It's too complex to nail down." They no longer offer various types of lights but instead offer consulting services where they try to match the type of plant, environment, nutrient system, season and so on to the choices of lighting using their own database of commercially available lighting. His only suggestion was, if in doubt, HPS will cover almost all the bases. HPS will also be the cheapest to purchase as you can buy ballasts, bulbs, sockets and wiring separately from commercial electrical supply outlets
  10. brolloks

    brolloks Arachnobaron

    Ya it is insane trying to find the "prefect" light.
    I will put any purchases on hold for now and also do some research into HID options. I will need to make some modification to my grow rack as well.
  11. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    While it may not be optimal, a bright, cool light is unlikely to hurt plants. The main difference between shade plants and bright-light plants, in terms of photosynthesis, is that shade plants have a lower compensation point--the point at which CO2 produced and CO2 consumed are equal--and a lower light saturation point--the amount of light beyond which adding more light does not significantly increase the rate of photosynthesis. Bright light often hurts shade plants because it burns them; however, cool lights won't burn them with heat and indoor lights don't emit much UV unless they're specifically designed for that. So all you will be doing by having too bright a light, it seems to me, will be adding unused energy to the system. Annoying, but unlikely to cause growing problems.

    Anyway, you're trying to grow carnivorous plants, right? Most of those (Nepenthes being the exception) like, as I'm sure you know, blindingly bright light.

    This article is very good; just do note that even though blue absorption is sub-optimal, I've read that people have problems when they grow only under red light because blue light prevents plants from becoming "leggy" and also makes them produce leaf pigments (at least that is what I have found on a quick internet search). It's probably not a huge deal, though. I will say that full-spectrum lighting is probably not as useful as straight blue and red lights at optimal absorption; it's just hard to tell exactly where individual lights fall if they don't say when sold.

    Overall, however, I think it's worth remembering that most plants in the wild grow perfectly healthily in suboptimal conditions. You don't need to perfectly match the plant's perfectly ideal conditions to have it be healthy. That is, after all, why hydroponic growing is effective in the first place.
    • Informative Informative x 2
  12. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    This is where plants can show us the advantages of evolutionary diversity in a nutshell and very brief period of time. The lack of this diversity as seen in factory farming more often than not producing evolutionary dead ends.
    Following this reasoning it seems to me that marginal, be it light, nutrition or environment may actually a better way to care for plants. I'll stop here before I take the leap from botany to philosophy. :yuck:
  13. Tleilaxu

    Tleilaxu Arachnoprince Old Timer


    I personally use a 24 inch version of this, with two growlight and two 5000k bulbs. I will be trying different bulbs later next year as I may have more success in using 5,000 to 6000k instead. I grow CPs, namely vfts and sundews, the move has been really hard on them but they made it.

    I'm currently using said fixture to try and save an orchid that is on the brink of death due to neglect by the previous owners.(it's been repotted intro orchid substrate and such, it was in pure sphagnum moss) Plus regular watering and light feeding.
  14. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Good luck with the orchid, @Tleilaxu . My experience is once unthrifty, always unthrifty. If you prove otherwise I'd love to hear your formula.
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