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DIY ballast questions

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MINIATUS

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
337
Im just finishing up the final few pieces to my MH DIY ballast installation.
2-M58 cap and coils are installed in a well vent electrical case. I have a few little things to finish up on this project but need a little help.

1-Capisitor how far from Coil does it have to be or in other words how much heat will it handle.
2-How many amps must the power cords be to handle the ballast. Can both ballast be run off of a single heavy duty cord or do they need to have there own cords.
3- Aquarium is up stairs ( do I need to run a new line up to the ballast case from fuse box or can they be run on the normal outlets.

4- I need to run a quick disconnect to the lamps, what should i use for this. i was thinking of getting the male and female endsthat you buy to make a extension cord and run one on the lamp cord and the other to the ballast. Any ideas.

Sorry for all the questions , but I want to build it right the first time.


MINIATUS :confused:
 

kylem

A piece of the Reef!
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
85
Location
Milton-Freewater
Hi Miniatas!
It very good that you are asking questions...this way you will be able to handle this difficult (but simple for me task). I am an electrician.

To answer your first question:
1-Capisitor how far from Coil does it have to be or in other words how much heat will it handle.
The minimum distance from the balast is 6 inches of wire so the capasitor can be 1 inch away from the ballast. I would not go more than 3 ft. Try to keep all the equipment together so it will be easier to work on when something goes bad.

Second question:
2-How many amps must the power cords be to handle the ballast. Can both ballast be run off of a single heavy duty cord or do they need to have there own cords.
Each device must have its own cord. The cords are usually 16 guage wire and are not capable of handling large current draws. The wire gets derated at the point of termination because you strip off the insulation to make connections. One power cord per device is advisable.

Third Question:
3- Aquarium is up stairs ( do I need to run a new line up to the ballast case from fuse box or can they be run on the normal outlets
This question is totally dependant on what circuit you plug it in and what the total power used by the ballast and the lamps are to be. Typical house has 15 and 20 amp circuits. If the circuit is mixed with the lights ...add the light wattage total to the calculations. Then figure out what else may be used or plugged in. (like a vaccuum cleaner typically 7 amps)
Use the formula P=VI or Power=Voltage X amperage

so it will look like this: 1200=120V x I
Plug in amps to get power or power to get amps.
Calculate the total either way and you should get:
20 amp circuit = 20 x 120 = 2400 watts
15 amp circuit = 15 x 120 = 1800 watts

Do not exceed these or you will have problems with the breaker (fuse)tripping.
Try not to go more than 80% of capacity. Since this is a dedicated device (lights and pumps)which is considered to be a candidate fore a circuit of its own.
If you need to run wire run it from the ballast location up to the light location in NMb (romex) wire. Into a surface junction box and then run wire up to the light in high temp wire. Make sure the wire is protected up to the light and strapped down to the canopy using cable ties. High temp wire nuts are not necessary.
When you put on the wire nuts make sure they face up and have a drip loop so water cant run into the wire nut or termination points.

Fouth question:
4- I need to run a quick disconnect to the lamps, what should i use for this. i was thinking of getting the male and female endsthat you buy to make a extension cord and run one on the lamp cord and the other to the ballast. Any ideas.
Since you need a junction box...use it and put a switch on it instead of a blank cover. Or put an outlet (recepticle in the box) and put a combo switch outlet on it. This way you have a quick disconnect (switch) and you can remove the light by unpluging it.
Or if you are like me...just an outlet would work...

Any other questions?
 

MINIATUS

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
337
Thank yo very much for your help. Im going to check all my equipment and find out how many amps/watts they all add up to.

MINIATUS :cool:
 

MINIATUS

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
337
Kylem

I have everything installed that I asked about. Now to make sure all wiring is hooked up right could you answer these wiring questions.

Ballast has 4 wires (277&347 capped off)
2-common
1- 120 volt
1-Cap

Capasitor has 2 wires(one I know goes to cap on ballast)

Lamp 1-black wire
1-white wire

power cord
1-black
1-white
1-green

Could you tell me where each would go to complete the circit and this part of the project.Your help is greatly appreciated.

MINIATUS
 

kylem

A piece of the Reef!
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
85
Location
Milton-Freewater
MINIATUS said:
Kylem

I have everything installed that I asked about. Now to make sure all wiring is hooked up right could you answer these wiring questions.

Ballast has 4 wires (277&347 capped off)
2-common
1- 120 volt
1-Cap

Capasitor has 2 wires(one I know goes to cap on ballast)

Lamp 1-black wire
1-white wire

power cord
1-black
1-white
1-green

Could you tell me where each would go to complete the circit and this part of the project.Your help is greatly appreciated.

MINIATUS
Ok your power cord hooks up white (on the power cord)to common gnd on ballast. The black on the ballast hooks up to the black on the power cord.
The green wire is a safety ground wire. It hook up to the carrier wire (if you have one and to the chassis on the lamp fixture and also the ballast mounting screw is a good place.
Now the other two wires ...one goes to the cap is correct... and the other is the neutral or common...think of it as the return path.
The other end of the cap wire goes to the black wire on the lamp and white wire hooks to the common ground..neutral wire on the ballast.

That should be it.
 
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