[The photo above shows the new 2x55w Bright Kit #30552 which includes moisture-resistant endcaps. Bulbs shown in the photos must be ordered separately.]
Superior Components = Superior Lighting. Here's the long of it. For the short of it, see the itemized Kit descriptions at the bottom of the page.
The Right Reflector Unit
Wattage is only one of the elements that determines how much light you can get out of a fixture. The shape of the reflector, the position of the bulb in relation to the reflector and the choice of reflective material also have a dramatic impact. Since A H Supply has paid attention to all of these elements, you can get more light out of a 36 watt bulb using our Bright Kit than you can get out of a 55 watt bulb in a typical fixture that positions the bulb very close to a reflector with a broad flat top. In fact, in repeated measurements directly below the center of the bulb at distances of 6 and 12 inches, the light output of the same 55 watt bulb was 62% greater when installed in an A H Supply Bright Kit than when installed in a broad flat-top fixture.
A major problem with the common broad flat-top unit is restrike. Much of the light going directly up from the bulb is simply reflected back to the bulb. And when the bulb is positioned too close to the reflector, much of the light going up at other angles is also reflected back to the bulb. In addition to this initial light loss, restrike also increases the temperature in the fluorescent bulb which, in turn, results in overall reduced light output, including the light that is emitted from the downward facing side of the bulb.
A H Supply's Bright Kit is designed for twin-tube compact fluorescents and, to reduce restrike, places very little of the top of each of the T5 tubes directly beneath the top surface of the reflector. In addition, our steel bulb holders position the bulb 50% farther away from the top reflector surface than some broad flat-top units so our multi-angle reflector is able to direct more of the light away from the bulb and out of the unit. These two features alone result in a 41% increase in light output. And this increase has been achieved while still keeping the reflector compact - only 4" wide and 2" high.
21% of the additional light output of the Bright Kit is achieved by the use of MIRO 4 enhanced aluminum from Germany. Since the typical polished aluminum reflector material has a total reflectivity of 86%, you may wonder how a more reflective material could ever result in a 21% increase in light output. After all, isn't the difference between 86% and 100% only 14%? Well, that's true, but consider the fact that with an 86% reflective material 14% of the light intensity is lost each time the light is reflected. In all but the perfect reflector, some of the light is reflected more than once before it leaves the unit. So in an actual application such as this one, the MIRO 4 material can produce 21% more light because only about 5% of the intensity is lost each time the light is reflected.
The state-of-the-art coating on MIRO 4 has the additional benefit of increasing the integrity of the reflective surface. Better manufacturers typically warrant their 86% reflective material for 10 years. The manufacturer of MIRO 4 enhanced aluminum offers a 25 year warranty that says, in part: "the products supplied for lighting-purposes under normal interior environmental conditions will not splinter, yellow, darken, peel-off, blister, crack or develop any other surface-deterioration reducing the reflectivity when used with fluorescent tubes and can withstand a temperature of max. 100C (=212F)."
Each reflector in a 55watt Bright Kit™ is 22 inches long, 4 inches wide and 2 inches high. With a 2x55w Kit, for instance, the two reflectors can be installed end-to-end on a 48" long aquarium in one 4" wide row, or installed front-to-back on a 24" or 30" long aquarium. The 1x36w Bright Kit's reflector is 17.25"L x 4"W x 2"H. 2x36w Bright Kits come with two 17.5"L x 4"W x 2"H reflectors.
The photo above shows a 2x36w setup.
An Efficient Ballast
You wouldn't want to use a top quality reflector along with a clunky ballast. You know the type. Some of them can even be called "electronic" because they do employ some electronic circuitry (to their considerable benefit), but the fact that they weigh pounds belies the fact that they are at best just "hybrids."
The lowest system watts and the highest system efficiency are achieved with a fully electronic instant start ballast. It has no heavy core and coil. And it's instant start circuitry can take advantage of the fact that fluorescent bulbs put out more light per watt when operated at high frequencies. That's the type of ballast supplied with A H Supply's Bright Kit. Our single-bulb, solid-state electronic, instant start ballast weighs only 8 ounces and is only 1 inch high, 1.5 inches wide and 6.5 inches long (including the mounting brackets) so it's easy to install. Our two-bulb, solid-state electronic, instant start ballast weighs only 14 ounces and is only 1 inch high, 1 5/8 inches wide and 8.5 inches long (including the mounting brackets). Both operate the bulb at 50,000-60,000Hz as opposed to the 20,000-30,000Hz of most electronic ballasts or the 50-60Hz of magnetic ballasts.
Save trips to the hardware store
In the middle of a DIY project, the last thing you need is yet another trip to the hardware store. They're time consuming and often much more expensive than anticipated. That's why we've included the hardware needed for a variety of installations, whether in wood, ABS plastic or metal. For instance, you not only get a rugged grounding power cord with your kit, you also get the related hardware for various types of installations such as a UV resistant nylon cord clamp and a snap bushing. Want to leave a cooling gap between the reflector and your enclosure? You'll have the nylon spacers you'll need - the retaining type so they won't fall off if you tip the reflector upside down to install it. And you could spend weeks trying to find the optional-use, pop-in vent covers supplied with this kit. Any single one of these items could easily cost you $1.49 - $3.99 (since you'd probably have to buy a package) plus the time and expense of the trip -- costs that we've yet to see accounted for in any www DIY article. We understand DIY projects, and it shows.
If you're still in the design stages for your enclosure, don't forget to order our FREE Tips (Item # 36559) on building a DIY enclosure for your 36-55watt Bright Kit. You may choose to build something much fancier than the enclosures covered in these Tips, but the drawings and the options discussed may still help you get your project under way and avoid some errors. Click here to see photos of some ultra-simple DIY enclosures made for as little as $7.55. You'll also find a link to a site which describes in greater detail how one hobbyist went about building his enclosure.
Click on the photo above to see a regular light strip for a 2ft. long tank retrofitted with a Bright Kit and a 55watt bulb. The ballast is simply mounted on the outside back of the strip.
Click on the image above to see a regular strip light retrofitted with a Bright Kit and a 36 watt bulb. You almost have to get behind the aquarium to see that the small ballast is mounted on the outside of the back of the strip.
To place an order just select the 36w Kits or 55W Kits page in the Easy Ordering section of our site.