Need some advice on a T5 fixture

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Eight, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. Eight

    Eight Guest

    Other than for actinic supplementation, I'm pretty much a T5 newb... so I'm looking for some advice.

    I've got an Elos 120. Dimensions are 48" x 19" x 19". My PGE bill hit $650 last month so it's time to swap the Maristar dual 250W HQI halide + T5 fixture out for a straight T5 setup. (I really hate to do this because I love the halides. Sigh.)

    I am planning on keeping almost exclusively LPS and some BTAs in this tank. All the SPS will go into the 180 in wall. I've narrowed my choices down to two fixtures:

    Tek Elite 6 x 54w fixture ($600 with bulbs, shield and hanging kit)

    Icecap Reef Illuminations 4 x 54w + 4 x Actinic LED strips ($550 with bulbs, shield, hanging kit and legs)
    (Promo coupon brings it down to $550 with bulbs)

    Both fixtures are pretty new to the market. The tradeoff is 2 extra T5 bulbs and active cooling with the Tek versus 4 Actinic LED strips with the Icecap. They're both high quality fixtures and I believe they're about equally well constructed. I think the Tek looks a bit better...

    I do love the look of actinic LEDs and I make a lot of use of dawn-dusk-moonlight. I'd just go with the Icecap, but I am afraid that I will regret 4 T5 bulbs on my tank. I figure I could always pick up the Tek, just use 4 of the bulbs and add moonlights if I wanted to as well. Ugh, I can't decide.

    Any thoughts from experienced T5 users?
  2. 99sf

    99sf Guest

    Jason, I'm not a super experienced T5 user, but I had the Icecap 660 4 bulb 54 watt retrofit (with individual reflectors) running on my 60 gallon long tank. It put out a huge amount of light for my tank... probably a bit excessive. I got the retrofit kit from a reefer who had it on his larger tank, but he missed the MH shimmer, so he switched back after a couple of months.
  3. IME the more bulbs you have the better chance you have at getting the color you want for your tank. The extra two bulbs will be missed if you get the 4 bulb unit over the 6 bulb. For a 19" tank, 6 bulbs will light it nicely. With the TEK unit you can use a actinic bulb and a blue + and get a nice dawn dusk lighting.
  4. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

    are sure its the lights that are using all that energy? I run almost 1000 watts -4 MH 2x250, 2X150, and 2 x39 watt T5 HO over my 120 and the bill for the entire condo is like $65 - 70 a month.

    You might check your pumps, chillers , and other items....wait isn't the Elos Bonnie's?
  5. Apon

    Apon Volunteer

    Maybe get one of those Kill A watt things to test your stuff.
  6. JAR

    JAR Supporting Member

    It was a cold month last month. Check the G portion of the PG&E bill.
  7. Eight

    Eight Guest

    Arnold, yeah the Elos is Bonnie's, but she isn't exactly paying the PGE bill. :p

    My PGE bill is all electric charges... Last month it was $587 (1,835kWh) + $63.59 (61 Therms). Totally insane.

    I think the issue is that because I use so much electricity, most of my usage gets billed to the top tier for electricity rates.

    I have a 40 gallon frag tank (Lights, Heater, Skimmer, Pumps) which I am trying to shut down which will help and I think that swapping to the T5s should also help on the Elos. (I'm also getting my roof redone and adding insulation so hopefully that will help a little as well.) I should be able to sell the Maristar setup for a similar to price for what I'll pay for a new T5 setup, so it would be a wash from a fixed cost perspective.

    Christina and Fishez, thanks for the advice. I suspect that 4 bulbs would be enough light for what I'm trying to grow in my tank, but that's a very good point about losing color flexibility with 4 bulbs vs. 6... That's something I hadn't considered.
  8. JAR

    JAR Supporting Member

    Do you have electric heat in your house?
  9. CookieJar

    CookieJar Guest

    I can't comment about the fixtures, only running 5 T5s over a frag tank.
    My frag tank has 4 T5s, and corals on the bottom (16" deep tank) get enough PAR to do fine, granted those are softies, zoas & LPS. For what you're intending to keep 4T5s will suffice, you can still keep most SPS towards the top, but you're right about having only 4 bulb choices. Plan on 2 of those bulbs being ATI blue+, the most popular T5 bulb by far, and the other 2 for whatever you like; actinic, fiji purple, another blue+, daylight bulb, etc. I wish I had a 5 bulb setup to give me that extra bulb choice, but from a functional standpoint 4 is enough. It just depends on how much mad scientist you want to be with tweaking things.

    Arnold- $70/ month with your setup?!? do you keep all TV, lights, appliances off and just stare at your brightly lite tank all day? :bigsmile:
  10. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    1835kWh ? Wheeew. My electric bill went up too, but mostly that was due to the cold and as a result the heaters in the tank worked overtime.

    I'm guessing typical electric stove, water heater, electric clothes drier, etc?

    your gas usage is really high too... do you keep the house toasty warm all the time? (Although knocking on that electricity component probably would be the best thing). Although you should understand your "baseline" is actually lower in winter time for your area because you're expected to use more for hot days as opposed to the "cold" ones, us coastal people on the other hand (SF down to SLO) we get screwed in that we're expected to not use as much because we don't need AC :D
  11. Eight

    Eight Guest

    Maybe there is something wrong with my meter... We are really good about managing electricity. House is generally pretty dark, lights off when not in rooms, etc. It's only 1600 sqft, with 3 people living in it.

    Central heat, clothes drier, water heater all on gas. And on top of that the house is pretty cool. I set the thermostat to 65.

    It's gotta be the tanks or a messed up meter. I do have a three tanks running, but even then, my light cycles are pretty short. All less than 6 hours, efficient power heads (Tunzes or modded maxijets). Tank heaters might be a problem because the big tank is in the wall and when I open the garage door, I lose a bunch of heat. But even then, the garage heats back up quickly due to the lights... so much so that my fan turns on in the winter sometimes.

    Do you think it's worth calling out PGE and asking them to check the meter?
  12. tonggao

    tonggao Guest

    Jason, I was in the same bad electric bill situation as you before, until I installed solar panels. It effectively rid most of the top tier charges, you feel good that you are not damaging the earth as badly with this hobby, and it is a good showoff in the neighborhood. Funny thing is that this is also one of my motivations to continuing reefing, as I do not know what to do with the extra electric generated if I stop reefing:).
  13. bee505

    bee505 Guest

    You might want to call PGE and ask if they read the meter wrong. Worth a try.
  14. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Well a simple check is just to look at the meter yourself, your PG&E bill will have the actual numerical reading on it. Not sure how cold it got there the past month, it got so cold here my 500w heater kept trying to keep my 200G warm, but it still dropped to 72F (which translates to that being 500W on 24h a day for a few days until that cold snap passed).

    I'd compare your bill against last months as far as total electrical usage before giving PG&E a call, think about anything you changed. How much lighting you have, your heaters most likely are the culprits if it got really cold too. To give you an idea 1835kWh would be how much energy about 6- 400watt halides would consume running 24 hours a day for a whole month. Granted we use electricity outside of the fish tanks (well some of us :D), but still that's a lot of power consumption.

    Could also simply take an account assessment of your tank too, add up your light wattage how long they are, multiply by 30, do that for pumps, etc, and then see if the heaters could actually make up the difference.
  15. patchin

    patchin Facilities / Event Coordinator

    If you plan on living in the house for any significant period of time, I'd add solar after the new roof. Or look into a roof with the panels built into the roof. With that much of your bill in the upper most tiers, it wouldn't take nearly as long as normal for it to pay for itself. Even if you're not sure about your stay in the house, it would increase the value of the house. I have a kill a watt that is still in the package, if you want to use it. WWould be an interesting study. I would love to see the results. It might make sense to insulate your garage also. Maybe check into Eagle Shield insulation when you do the roof. They would come out and do an analysis of your energy use. Just some random thoughts.
  16. JAR

    JAR Supporting Member

    If your thinking about solar you should coordinate with the roofer before you get the new roof.
    The mounting system can go on at the same time as the roof. A better install than after the roof goes on. Solar contractors are very competitive with each other now. It's a good time to get some bids on a system.
    The big solar companies are selling system for cost just to keep the ball rolling so they can get the VC money.
  17. patchin

    patchin Facilities / Event Coordinator

    The only VC I know of is the Viet Cong (showing my age) :)
  18. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Venture Capital?

    But yeah, that one place Nano-Solar which has an absolutely bad ass way of etching solar panels on sheets rather than using conventional silicon wafers, has been going strong for a while, problem is they only sell in large quantities of a commercial nature. But supposedly they are quite price competitive (on the price per kW side of things not counting installation)
  19. seminolecpa

    seminolecpa Past President


    My bill was that high last month too. Almost fell out of my seat as well.
  20. JAR

    JAR Supporting Member

    I have the panels and my bill was $150.
    This was more than double of any month since I put the solar panels on over 5 years ago.

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