Rack Lighting

I’ve said it before – I think it’s difficult to over-light a vivarium. What’s very easy to do though – especially with dart frogs, who do not, as a rule, like temperatures above 85F – is to overheat the enclosure with lights. I wanted enough light to grow bromeliads and orchids, not so much heat that cooling the tanks would be a huge issue and – closely tied to the heat issue – efficient units. I settled on 1 four foot T5 fluorescent for each of the two lower shelves (54 watts each) and two 21″ 55 watt power compacts from AH Supply lighting the top. My thought was that I’d put the cool-loving species low and a frog that likes slightly higher temps up top.

The boxes the lights are in are nothing fancy – a C-channel made of 1x4s and 1x6s. I screwed things together and sealed the wood.

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A little black spray paint…

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I wanted to be able to take the front panels off, so I bolted them on with bolt w/in a bolt hardware (I’ve seen this stuff everywhere – I got mine at the local home improvement big box).

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Test fitting the T5s (without reflector):

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And a shot of the partially wired ballast, end caps and reflector. Clicking the photo will embiggen enormously – you can see the model number and wiring diagram on the ballast.

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I used good ol’ cable ties to strap the lights to the bottom of the shelves.

Some shots of the Power Compact setup:

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Success!!

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I couldn’t finish the T5’s wiring until I’d put up the shelves. I spiral wrapped and cable tied the wires from the ballast to the remote light along the posts, trying to be as careful/bombproof as I could be. I don’t know what kind of shock the ballast wires can deliver (it’s high voltage, but that on it’s own doesn’t tell the tale); I have no interest in finding out.

More success!

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