Proper Times and Techniques for Replacing your T5 Bulbs

Discussion in 'ATI Aquaristik' started by ATI North America, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. ATI North America

    ATI North America Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Hello Reef2Reefers!

    We wanted to spend a few minutes talking today about the wonderful world of T5 bulb changes. It may come as a surprise, but the question pf "how often do I need to change my bulbs" is the most popular question we get. Admittedly, people might be a little afraid to ask this question because they feel it is too simple and should know! I can tell you that by not asking and not knowing, and guessing when to make a bulb change, could be the mistake that hurts the health and life of your corals.

    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 the use of fans 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. Be sure bulbs are installed in the proper orientation in your fixture. The end with the label should receive the most cooling.
    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.* Soft corals that are reaching towards the light may also indicate the output has diminished and the coral is no longer receiving the amount of light it prefers.
    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: With typical daily photo periods of 8-12 hours 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. To avoid shock to your corals it is always best to spread out a bulb change over a period of several weeks (Reef tank golden rule: nothing good happens fast).
    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.
    3. Brand new lamps have a burn in period of 50 hours. During this time they should not be dimmed; if using a dimmable fixture. They may also illuminate inconsistently or flicker during this period. Don't worry this is perfectly Normal.
    Keep your bulbs in perfect shape, beautiful and happy corals will come easier!

    Tell us a little bit about how often you change your T5 bulbs. Are you running a strict 9 month change schedule or do you sometimes run a little longer then the 12 months? We would love to hear about any schedules or tricks for your bulb changes so post in the comments below.

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

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    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
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  2. -Logzor

    -Logzor Valuable Member

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    I run my T5's about 9 hours per day, however, they come on in stages. I have a total of seven bulbs on a 48" fixture. I change them out ever 9 months to 12 months, depending on how motivated I am.

    I'm running mostly ATI bulbs, it's usually a mix of whatever I have on hand or what was on sale between ATI and other reputable brands.

    Interestingly, I'm shifting over to running a lot more pure actinic. In the past I ran no actinic or perhaps only one actinic bulb, thinking I was "wasting" a slot in my fixture.

    Now I run four of the seven as pure actinic, two blue+, and 1 aquablue special. Everything still thrives under the actinic and my growth and color has either maintained or improved. The best thing is I get the great pop of color without the overwhelming amount of blue.

    Not sure why the corals still thrive even with the lower PAR of the actinic's, I suspect it has to do with the unique spectrum of the bulb.
     
  3. Sangheili

    Sangheili Well-Known Member

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    Any idea what the usable lifetime (in hours, since everyone has different photoperiods) for ATI bulbs in ATI-cooled fixtures is? Don't happen to have a fancy PAR fall-off chart do ya? ;-)
     
  4. reefknight

    reefknight Well-Known Member

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    Tagging along as I too have an ATI fixture and use only ATI lamps. PM 54x10
     
  5. jackson6745

    jackson6745 Valuable Member

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    Could you elaborate further on this comment?

    " Also, over a 6 month period, the bulb will generally produce less total light than a normally-driven bulb."

    I don't understand how overdriving bulbs will produce less light.
     
  6. ATI North America

    ATI North America Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    That’s a great question- while overdriving the bulb initially increases output, it also causes the bulbs to deteriorate faster, so a few months in, the light output is actually less than what you would get with a normally driven bulb of the same age. It continues on this way until around 6 months when the overdriven bulb needs to be replaced, and the properly driven bulb is still good.
     
  7. Pirates.Reef

    Pirates.Reef Member

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    how many hours can I run 2 blue plus as supplements and still replace them every 12 months. just a general guideline don't need anything exact.
     
  8. Sahin

    Sahin Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I have been a long term user of T5 technology; was one of the first in the UK to utilise this technology when they first appeared in Europe a couple of so years ahead of this side of the pond.

    If run in a fixture such as ATI's with active cooling; then tube life is greatly enhanced compared to running without active cooling.

    I typically replace my tubes 12 months plus. I run the Blue+ tubes for around 9 hours per day; these tubes I may replace around 11-12months time, sometimes earlier if I feel like it. The daylight tubes which run for around 5-6 hours are replaced well into a year plus.

    ReefCentral TOTM winner Scotty replaces his tubes every 16 months. I feel replacing every 12 months is a good balance (obviously depends on how many hours you run your respective tubes).
     
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  9. Pirates.Reef

    Pirates.Reef Member

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    I was thinking of using them for 4 to 6 hours so I should be good with a yearly replacement then. Thanks
     
  10. Big E

    Big E Well-Known Member

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    Here are my personal experiences with over driving the ATI bulbs. I have been running them over Sps dominant setup for almost 5 years---

    1. Overdriven gets about 200 par more than standard ATI ballast.

    2. The bulbs will change spectrum, but par levels are the same after six months. I've tested brand new bulbs against 6 month old.

    3. Bulb life for spectrum is 6 months run 8 hours a day.,,,,,,,,,,after that color and growth are affected on acroporas.

    4. I can get away with less bulbs because the DIY reflectors are wider and with the extra par I can get the same results as a 6 bulb Sunpower with 4 overdriven DIY bulb setup.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015
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  11. reefknight

    reefknight Well-Known Member

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    I just changed mine on Sunday, all 10 lamps. To avoid shock and bleaching fixture was raised an additional 2" and photo period was reduced. Dawn/ dusk lamps are on for 1.5hrs in the morning, then 4.5 hrs in the evening. A reduction of 3hrs throughout the day. Main lamps run for 4.5hrs only. This is a reduction of 2hrs a day. Photo periods will be increased by 15mins/ wk until normal time is met. Then fixture will be lowered 1/2" per week until original height is achieved.

    Previous lamps were installed on 2/15/14, changed these on 3/1/15. As soon as I replaced the lamps and turned the fixture on, you could tell the difference. I knew that that these needed to be changed awhile back, but hadn't done so. I will not wait a year again to replace them as the spectrum shifted without a doubt and I'm sure the PAR did as well. I do not have access to a PAR meter or I would have tested. I really would have liked to have known the values of those lamps. Next change of lamps will be completed between months 8-9. I do feel that 12 is really pushing the envelope, especially if you have SPS corals. I very well may swap some lamps from a higher hour spot to a lower usage spot and replace those that appear to be losing spectrum earlier.

    Just some thoughts from an user of all ATI lighting!
     
  12. LILBUDDHA

    LILBUDDHA Valuable Member

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    t5 user for a long time . An icecap complete 4 x 54 t5 fixture with a 660-09 ballast . Bulbs lasted maybe 7/8 months for me . I kept fans in the hood. I also learned cooling them too much or too little made them seem dimmer . Last light used was an ATI PM 8 bulb unit . Changed bulbs @ 9 months .There is a long thread on another forum by Kangym ? with par drop /lifespan on ATI bulbs with par levels of ATI and other fixtures .
     
  13. DeeBee

    DeeBee Active Member R2R Supporter

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    Question. How do you go about doing a 50 hour burn-in if only changing out a couple of bulbs at a time? Do I just turn off the dimming and strictly run everything on/off for a week or so?
     
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  14. jeremy

    jeremy Well-Known Member

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    I change mine after 10 months. Ati sunpower with all ati bulbs. I raise fixture up 2 inches and change w bulbs every 3-4 days. I did go 12 months once and as posted above I noticed a spectrum shift and the new bulbs were alot brighter to my eye. So now I start replacing at the 10 month mark on my dusk - dawn channel and 11 months on day lights. I run actinic for 10 hours and daylights for 5 hours. On the daylights I do sometimes wait 12 months before replacement.
     
  15. billwill

    billwill Active Member

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    Awesome info from ATI! Thanks for detailed data
     
  16. ATI North America

    ATI North America Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Yes you could certainly just turn off the dimming and strictly run everything on/off for about 50 hrs.

    A great way to do this would be to coordinate it with some dosing or tank maintenance, and pull the light down, install your set of new bulbs, and run them for 50hrs straight, off the tank.

    Then, reinstall your old bulbs, and you can then one by one every week replace them with the new, completely burned in bulbs and not interrupt your dimming programming. This also allows you to not shock the system as much going from all old bulbs to a full set of all new bulbs all at once.
     
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  17. DeeBee

    DeeBee Active Member R2R Supporter

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    That is very helpful. Thank you!
     
  18. buzzword

    buzzword Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    A little confused, the label end should go to the vent side of My ATI fixture, now is that the open end where you slide the shield in from or the other side where the holes in the fixture by the bulb ends are? Right now I have the labels at the open end where the shield gets slid in. Is this the correct alignment?
     
  19. gdemos

    gdemos Active Member

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    i wonder if i'm the only one that runs 12 hours all lights (Channel 1 and Channel 2 on/off same time) with a 2 hour ramp up 1% to 100%, and 2 hour ramp down from 100% to off.
    8x54w dimmable sunpower

    the burn in and staggered bulb change is a pain for me, fixture in an in-wall canopy means fixture comes completely down.
     
  20. LILBUDDHA

    LILBUDDHA Valuable Member

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    Sounds incorrect . Shield insert side is the exit or vent side .
    Go by the lamp cord .Lamp Label should be on the cord side .
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2015
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