View Full Version : Ways to save money on lighting without throwing your money away

10-19-2005, 10:20 AM
Ways to save money on lighting without throwing your money away

Most people want to save money when purchasing lighting equipment for their tank. Unfortunately there are many inferior products, and unscrupulous retailers that may take advantage of this. There are safe effective ways to save alot of money.

1. Educate yourself! Knowing what you need and what it should cost is your best defense. There are alot of shams out there! Check out the sellers claims on the product he is selling. If it sounds too good to be true....
The reef boards are an excellent resource for info, reviews, Vendor experiences, etc..

2. Instead of buying a cheaply made prebuilt lighting fixture, buy quality parts or retro-kits and put it together yourself. The wiring and assembly involved in this is EASY. Any reputable store selling these items will gladly help explain how to assemble them. Most involve just connecting some wires with wire-nuts.

3. To really save money on metal halides-buy a bare ballast kit. Again-the wiring is not hard to figure out-if you cannot figure out the wiring diagram its very easy to find someone on a reef board that can help.

4. One more alternative is the standard tar ballasts. Like the Magnetek, Advance, and Sola ballasts. These are fully assembled ballasts-just hook up a cord and the wires to your bulbs. They cost a little more in electricity but they are the "energizer bunnies" of ballasts. They are cheap-they aren't picky about power sources, they aren't affected by electronics, and are very reliable. I have 2 rusty 7 year old Advance metal halide ballasts that I still use. They have never given me a single problem. I also have a 7 year old Magnetek VHO ballast that works great. And they are cheap.

5. Buy from a known reputable source.
Lighting equipment can and often does have problems. If you need service from an Ebay seller that imports everything from China you aren't likely to get the service you may need. Always check feedback on Ebay sellers. Send them a few emails with questions about their products and see how they respond.
What is their return policy? What is their defective product policy?

6.Things I have seen lately include bulbs that cant be replaced so the fixture is basically disposable. Make sure you can get replacement bulbs easily.

7. Research the manufacturer!
Common brands don't always mean good brands. There are some really bad things made by huge brand names and some great things made by little known companies. Check into the service a manufacturer provides. Read product reviews. Again-the boards are great for finding this info.

8.Buy "expandable" systems
One very nice thing about retro kits and separate parts are that they can be re-fitted to that new tank you get in a year or two. If you go from a 4 foot tank to a 6 foot tank just add 1 more halide kit instead of replacing the whole lighting system. You will never get what you paid back out of a fancy light. Even if its only been used a short time. Plan long term for high dollar items like lighting.

Which brings me to one of the best ways to save:
Buy used from the reef boards! There is always equipment for sale. It's easy to find high quality used equipment for sale from local reefers. No sales tax-no shipping. Just check out the person you buy from, and test out the equipment. You don't get a warranty this way but the savings can be substantial.

Proper lighting is one of the most important factors in a healthy reef tank. It's possible to save money and still give your livestock quality light, It just takes a little more effort on your part.

10-26-2005, 08:52 AM
Nice thread, answers alot of common questions to!