DIYCages Ballast change

I recently purchased a dual 24" T8 light fixture from DIYCages.com. The fixture is great. You can turn off either side lamp with two selector switches or you can turn both lamps off at once with a switch on the power cord. This fixture is a standard fixture, meaning, it won't dim the lamps. I am using this fixture with my EcoZone Vivarium controller and need the lamps to be dimmable. Luckily this only requires a special ballast to be purchased and installed.

So here is my DIY DIYCages.com dimmable ballast swap... :)

Stat with the fixture laying on a table. Remove the reflector. Just pull one corner out from the lip of the hood and slide you finger along the reflector.

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The fixture comes with an electronic ballast, which is pretty nice considering most hoods come with magnetic, which can't power T8 lamps well.

You can see the wiring is pretty simple....

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Next we need to remove the metal cover and the bracket that holds the ballast. This is held in place by two screws that you can see from the top of the hood. Hold the nut with a pliers and use a philips screw driver to turn the bolt. You have to angle the bracket out a bit to get it out.

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Now you can see the wiring for the switches that control each lamp.

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This is the ballast I am using. It is a line dimming ballast. There are two types out there. You want the type that does not require a separate control signal via 0-10v.

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So the cool thing about the parts used in this fixture, they are reusable. The lamp holders can have the wires removed and new ones installed. You need a small screw driver that can fit into the little slot and you press the screw driver in while pulling the wire gently. You need to be gentle but firm at the same time. DON"T BREAK THEM :).

Next thing to do is remove all of the wires from the lamp holders. You can remove the lamp holders by squeezing the white plastic tabs in on the holder. You can, but don't have to remove the screws that hold the metal bracket in place if you like, but bending the tabs is faster.

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Part 2

Next up we need to remove the old ballast mounting bracket from the frame piece. Use a drill bit just bigger than the rivet and drill out the rivet.

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Next you will need to find two screws to mount the new ballast to the bracket. Use very short screws, or they'll poke into the top of the hood and make the bracket bend.

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Now install the bracket into the hood.

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Here is the wiring of one side...

Bend the yellow wires out of the way. You will have the blue wires feed one lamp holder and the red feed the other lamp holder.

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Susie popped her head over the couch to see what I was up to...

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Now the yellow wires need to be connected. I thought I could maintain the use of the switches for the lamps.... so I wired them in, but they didn't work. The way these ballasts work is a bit more complex than the original ballast.... SO my photos show how to wire the switches in. When YOU do the install, don't wire it like the photo, wire it like im going to explain:

The yellow wires hook up just like the blue and reds did, but two lamp holders share the yellow pair. Wire the yellow pair like you did the blue/red. Cut the wires to length and then use the scre wire to 'daisy chain' the other lamp holder. one yellow wire goes to the on lamp holder on the left, then with the second opening right next to that hole, push in the scrap wire to share the connection. then feed that scrap length of wire over to the second lamp holder. Do the same with the second yellow wire. It sounds more complicated than it is. You will see what I am talking about in the wiring diagram that comes on the new ballast.

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Now hook up the black and white wires... black to black... white to white...

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You should have something like this when you are done...

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Here is the fixture with the lamps in place.

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Funny thing about the LG.... it was free.... and yeah... I should have been working on my A/C unit on the Honda... but i'll get to that later.......

Good enough work for the union Chad?
 
Kevin: I see that you've come around to the DIYCages dual, there a tad pricey compared to Lowe's or HD but they do have a nice fit and finish to them. If you compare them to singles offered by ZooMed or Zilla their not that bad. One thing that you didn't mention is when illuminating a 2x2x4 foot cage the dual fixture is the only way to go! I have always found that a single bulb never lit up a big cage very well.
 

Kali

New Member
Thanks!

Great thread, thanks for posting, I have been thinking about doing the same but would never have know where to begin.

I love Susie!! :p
 
Kevin: I see that you've come around to the DIYCages dual, there a tad pricey compared to Lowe's or HD but they do have a nice fit and finish to them. If you compare them to singles offered by ZooMed or Zilla their not that bad. One thing that you didn't mention is when illuminating a 2x2x4 foot cage the dual fixture is the only way to go! I have always found that a single bulb never lit up a big cage very well.

Yes, Dual fixtures are a must... even with a smaller cage than the 2x2x4. There is a lot of spectra the animals don't get when just using a heat and UVB lamp.

(BTW, I need more of those lamps.... I won't be at the next meeting though...:eek:)
 

flash134

New Member
Another great tech savvy post.....this is great information Kevin, what did you pay for the dimmable ballast? I have read a few posts regarding the exo terra light cycle unit but really have not seen any hardcore data or opinions from long term users, while i do not plan on getting an EcoZone I am interested in the dimmable aspect of fluorescent lighting. As far as the complaints about lose bulb's and no fixture with the exo terra unit that would not be a problem for me. Just 2 hours in the garage and a few days of drying for stain and sealer and I would have a matching hood for my enclosure that would nicley house the exo terra unit. Just not sure if buying the dimmable ballast, and changing it out of my current hood would be cheaper or to just get the exo terra unit? I need a dimmable ballast for 2-48" bulbs preferably 40W T-10 (I know T-8's are the standard now but like the flexibility of being able to use 40W bulbs) I can get the exo on ebay for about $50 bucks and the hood would cost nothing as I already have wood to build it and a reflector for the inside. The only problem i see with the exo is a power outage; from exo's user manual; "When power is restored, the timer will automatically adjust and the cycle will re-activate based on the time the power is restored". Thats kind of a bummer!!!! Any personnel thoughts on the exo?

Thanks again Kevin!!!
 

melric

Avid Member
So I've decided that when I buy my house I want you to come set up my cham room! Haha! :D No seriously, lol.
 
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