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Replacement for Nano Cube ballast


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#1
Vnnie

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The ballast on one of the 12 gallon Nano Cubes here at school recently went bad. In this thread I will describe how I replaced the ballast with a ballast from a 23 watt "curly Q" screw-in compact flourescent bulb. Since the Nano Cube has a 24 watt bulb I was hoping to find a 24 or 25 watt screw-in PC bulb locally but I was unable to find any in stock locally. I wasn't sure if the 23 watt ballast would be enough to fire the stock bulb but it was.

I found a four pack of 23 watt CF bulbs at Home Depot for about $9 (I wanted extras in case I screwed up). I broke the glass off the bulb leaving just the base. It was kind of a pain to get into the base where the ballast was. Once I got to it, I desoddered the wires coming from the ballast. There were two wires for power and four wires going to the bulb which was exactly what I needed. I soddered on new 18 gauge wires and hooked everything up. When I flipped the switch the bulb lit up instantly. Obviously the bulb is running at 23 watts instead of 24 watts but the difference is so small I'll never notice. You could probably overdrive the bulb a little with a slightly larger ballast (at your own risk of course).

The ballast is so small it easily fits inside the Nano Cube's hood. You could easily fit at least a half dozen inside but I don't know how you could fit that many bulbs in the hood! It's been a few hours and the hood is running cooler than another stock Nano Cube we have sitting right next to it. I doubt this ballast was designed for years of use so it may not last super long but at a cost of a little over $2 it doesn't really matter. The stock Nano Cube ballast looked pretty cheap to me so this new ballast should last at least as long, but we'll see.

#2
Vnnie

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Here is the pack of 23 watt bulbs I got at Home Depot for a little over $9.
bulbs.jpg

Edited by Vnnie, 18 December 2005 - 07:54 PM.


#3
Vnnie

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Here is the base of the bulb.
base_side.jpg

Edited by Vnnie, 18 December 2005 - 07:55 PM.


#4
Vnnie

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Here is a picture of the ballast with new wires. The old wires were short and very thin.
ballast_new.jpg

Edited by Vnnie, 18 December 2005 - 07:56 PM.


#5
Vnnie

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I glued a piece of velcro to the back of the ballast and one to the inside of the hood to mount the ballast. You can also see how I soddered on the new wires since some wouldn't fit in the holes where the old wires were.
ballast_velcro.jpg

Edited by Vnnie, 18 December 2005 - 07:57 PM.


#6
NanoBobby

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Sweet idea, nice innovation, keep us posted. I assuming you are working on finishing your post right now but any more pics/directions?

#7
Vnnie

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Here is the inside of the hood with the new ballast and wiring. You can see how small the ballast is.
hood_wired.jpg

Edited by Vnnie, 18 December 2005 - 07:57 PM.


#8
Vnnie

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The reflector and bulb fit on like normal. Everything seems to be working well so far but I'll keep you posted.
hood_lit.jpg

Edited by Vnnie, 18 December 2005 - 07:58 PM.


#9
C Jerome

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Nice fix!

#10
Jpl3k

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Great job! Hope it all works out for you!
Do you think you could buy a 96watt bulb and wire a few of these $2 23watt swirly-bulb ballasts in series (or parallel -i forget which is which) and make your own $9 ballast? LOL! Just curious.
-Jonathan

EDIT:
Could I use one of these 23watt bulb mods to run a 13watt mini PC? Or would this blow-out the low-wattage bulb? How about running dual 13watt bulbs on this 23watt ballast? (Yes, I know that would be under-powering the 13watt bulbs by a few watts.)
What I'd thinking about doing is buying a mini $9 13watt bulb (to put over my HOB refugium) at a LFS and hook it up to the 23watt ballast. I'm assuming this would be TOO MUCH wattage for the little bulb, though, and kill it in no time. Am I correct? Could I wire two 13watt bulbs to it instead?
I'm just looking to save a dollar instead of buying a $20 AquaVase light fixture and $8 bulb.

#11
Vnnie

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I don't know about wiring up multiple bulbs. It may be possible but I really don't know enough to give any advice. If you want a ballast for a 13 watt bulb, Home Depot sells ballasts for $4 that work great. I've used those before. I vaguely remember someone else on this forum using a ballast from a 13 watt screw-in curly-Q bulb to power a 13 watt pc bulb. I wouldn't risk overdriving a 13 watt bulb on a 23 watt ballast. I doubt if the bulb would even light and if it did it wouldn't last long and could possibly start a fire. Someone else may know more but I don't. Your best bet is to go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy the little ballast they sell for about $4. It's cheap and works well.

#12
Vnnie

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I went back to Home Depot today and noticed that they sell 42 watt and 65 watt screw-in pc bulbs for less than $10. I bet someone could use the ballasts from these to power better bulbs. I've seen 65 watt pc bulbs for aquarium use. Although they are fairly rare, I've seen 40 watt bulbs too and I bet the 42 watt ballast would work on these. 36 watt pc bulbs are quite common but I don't know if you'd want to risk running a 36 watt bulb at 42 watts but it might be ok with proper ventilation.

As an update, the new ballast is still working well. Just touching the top it feels cooler than the stock Nano Cube sitting beside it. Couple this with slighly less power (1 watt) and I wouldn't be surprised if bulbs last longer with the new ballast. Granted there are other factors involved in bulb life. Both tanks seem to be putting out the same amount of light, at least to my eyes. Unfortunately I have no way to test this but I can't imagine the difference would be very big.

#13
Howf777

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the ballast should last longer too
isnt the life span on those bulbs 7 years? vs 1-2 years on reg incandescent bulbs

#14
Vnnie

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I just tried hooking up two 13 watt bulbs to one 23 watt ballast (the ballast has 4 wires going to the bulb and each 13 watt bulb needs 2 wires) but the bulbs didn't fire. I tried different wire combinations but nothing worked. Maybe a bigger ballast (~26 watts) would work, maybe not?

#15
halfpint

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Thanks! I'm supposed to get the bulb in Sat. or Mon. If the ballast is blown, this will be a great opportunity for me to upgrade my lighting!
efd.gif
Been into coral for 9 years, and still learning!

#16
SeanCallan

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This is awesome! Thanks!

Now I can finally upgrade my lighting with the extra bulbs I have without needing an expensive ballast!

#17
danskim

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This is awesome! Thanks!
Now I can finally upgrade my lighting with the extra bulbs I have without needing an expensive ballast!

Anyone happen to have the original pictures or another set of their own pictures of this procedure?
Thanks.

#18
Vnnie

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Update: I've reloaded the pictures. It's been almost 5 months and the ballasts are still going strong. They run cooler than the original ballasts and that may help extend the life of both the ballasts and bulbs. I've also successfully used this exact ballast to run a 22watt circline bulb that hangs over two side-by-side 2.5 gallon freshwater killifish tanks.

#19
danskim

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cool thanks man

#20
danskim

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once again, very helpful.
just a quick question:
this would probably work, right? for a 32w bulb

http://www.1000bulbs...p?product=12037

#21
1105

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Just a quick question. I've seen the lights used to make the DIY ballasts around everywhere, and that they are for powering PC lights, but where can I buy the PC lights from? I have not been able to find anything close to 23watts or 32watts anywhere. Can someone please help me?

#22
danskim

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there aren't any 23watts that i've seen for aquarium use
32 watts are pretty common
sunpaq 32w bulbs
or try www.hellolights.com or www.innovativelights.com

#23
stoney waters

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Just a quick question. I've seen the lights used to make the DIY ballasts around everywhere, and that they are for powering PC lights, but where can I buy the PC lights from? I have not been able to find anything close to 23watts or 32watts anywhere. Can someone please help me?


28 and 32 watt bulbs are the same. The difference is what ballast you use to drive them.

#24
1105

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So get some 28w/32w bulbs and get the 23w ballasts to power them? Or try to find some 32w bulbs at walmart like the 23w ones?

#25
stoney waters

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So get some 28w/32w bulbs and get the 23w ballasts to power them? Or try to find some 32w bulbs at walmart like the 23w ones?


You would have to find a ballast in that range. It might be possible to overdrive them with a ballast up to maybe 36w, but bulb life might be an issue.
I believe I have seen screw-in fluorescents that are 28 watts.