Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Replacing T5 Bulbs

Factors that Affect Bulb Life
  1. Photo Period: This is the length of time a bulb is running each day.  (For example, a bulb run for 12 hours per day should be replaced more often than a bulb run for 8 hours per day.)
  2. Heat: Hotter installations typically mean shorter bulb life. We always recommend using fan installations inside a canopy or other enclosure. Also, make sure that hot air can ventilate/escape somewhere. (Remember, hot air rises. So, some slots in the top of a canopy, or removing the top completely can help a lot.) Also, choosing a fixture with an active cooling system is generally a good idea.
  3. Ballast: Programmed-start ballast typically provide better bulb life than instant-start ballasts, as they are easier on the bulb during start-up. We generally do not recommend over-driving any T5 bulb, as it will shorten bulb life by about 50% and produce more heat. Also, over a 6 month period, the bulb will generally produce less total light than a normally-driven bulb.
When to Replace
  1. Coral Health: If your corals are not opening up as much or are growing a lot slower than before, it can be a good indication that your bulbs need to be changed.*
  2. Tank Health: In a mature tank with stable water parameters, an algae and/or cyanobacteria bloom can be a good indication that the bulbs are deteriorating and need to be changed.
  3. Time: T5 bulbs carry the average life-span is 9-12 months. If it’s been more than 12 months since your last bulb change, it’s probably time for a change.
How To Replace
  1. New bulbs typically produce twice as much PAR (output) as old bulbs, so it is always best to spread out a bulb change over a period of several weeks.
  2. Change out just 1 or 2 bulbs per week. Doing so will allow your corals to more easily acclimate to the new, brighter bulbs.

* Please note, many types of corals will not open up as much as before immediately after replacing your bulbs.

Have more questions? Give us a call at 1-866-295-9230, or email us any time.

Happy Reefing!

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