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Thread: Lighting wiring

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    happy-gnome's Avatar
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    Lighting wiring

    Hi guys,

    I've been looking at building a grow rack for my small nep collection for awhile now, and finally have the time. I've been leafing through past forum posts on lighting, got all excited, dashed down to the local hardware store and realised I don't understand how people are wiring their lighting systems up.

    It seems like 99% of the T5 fixtures are hardwired to the wall. The few I could find with a power cable were amazingly expensive. I went down to a local lighting shop and found the same trouble.

    I know nothing about electrics, and don't want to have to start cutting and splicing wires, but I also don't want to have to pay all that money for the fixtures with power cables!

    Are there fixtures I'm just missing?

    I was also wondering how the lights go with all that humidity? I know i've read about a few people having rust issues, but isn't there also an electrocution issue? As i said, I know little about electrics, so am probably missing something, but it seems a little worrying.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    All the best,

    John

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    John,
    While you are probably going to have to splice some wires, I assure you it isn't that much trouble at all and will take 10 minutes tops. It's as simply as cutting an unused cord of an old appliance, matching the colored wires to those of your fixtures, twisting the wires together than wrapping it all in electrical tape. There are some more in depth posts on this, but it really isn't anything daunting at all!

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    does this rag smell like chloroform to you? boxofrain's Avatar
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    yep...pretty simple.
    Make sure you have at least a wire size labeled "14/3" or "14/2 with ground".
    For the moisture issue, I use liq electrical tape on all splices, and wire nuts are used to hold the splices.
    You can find some very affordable T5HO single or double lamp fixtures in most large home stores (home depot, lowes, etc.) . These units run around $20.00 for a 4' fixture with lamps.
    "the memories of a man in his old age, are the deeds of a man in his prime"

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    Quote Originally Posted by happy-gnome View Post
    I know nothing about electrics, and don't want to have to start cutting and splicing wires
    ...
    I was also wondering how the lights go with all that humidity? I know i've read about a few people having rust issues, but isn't there also an electrocution issue? As i said, I know little about electrics, so am probably missing something, but it seems a little worrying.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Strange, so you never replaced a power plug on a defective power cord or a complete power cord on an electrical device?
    It's easy.

    So here are some basics:

    A standard power plug has three pins: Two for the power transmission and one extra for "ground" / "protective ground".

    To select 2-wire or 3-wire cable: Check if the lighing fixture has a metal casing or is consisting fully of isolating plastics. With a metal casing you need a 3-wire cable and MUST connect the green (green-yellow striped) cable to the protective ground. If all outside parts of the lighting fixture are isolating plastics you just need a 2-wire cable.

    The wires of cables are available in two types: Solid wire or stranded wire cable (litz cable, flex). As solid wires can only be bent some times before they break, solid wires are only used for fixed installations. If you need the lamp movable, the power cord must be flexible and in that case you need cables with stranded wire / litz cable.

    So now you can decide for the cable:
    Fixture has metal casing, fixed installation ==> 3-wire, solid wire
    Fixture has plastic casing, movable installation ==> 2-wire, stranded wire / litz cable

    The plug can always be a 3-pin plug, leave the ground connector unconnected with a 2-wire cabling.

    The cabling colors in the States should be:
    Black or brown and white or blue for the power pin.
    Green or green/yellow striped for the ground pin.

    On the lamp:
    You just connect the brown(black) and blue(white) cables to the ballast connectors to the lamp. And if the lamp has a metal casing you also connect the green/yellow striped cable to the ground connector on the metal casing.

    On the plug:
    You just connect the brown(black) and blue(white) cables to the power pins. And if available you connect the green/yellow striped cable to the ground pin.

    Cabling ready. T5 lighting fixtures can always be cabled for movable installation, and in that case you can mix the two power wires brown(black) and blue(white) in the lighting fixture as you like, it doesn't matter which is which on the connectors inside the lamp. As you plug in the power plug into the wall outlet, rotated by 180 degrees, those two cables always change their internal connection. Only the yellow-green (green) connector must be connected to ground and the metal casing, NEVER to anything else!

    For humid conditions there are moisture-proof lighting fixtures on the market. Buy them if you need them.

    If you are worried about potential "electrocution issues", here is my fool-proof hint for you:
    http://www.amazon.com/TRC-90265-6-01...dp/B000XU5MEG/

    Just use an GFCI plug adapter between the wall outlet and your power plug. GFCI stands for "ground fault circuit interrupter" for your personal safety! A GFCI works like that: It compares the electrical current running through the two power wires back and forth. If there is the slightest difference, the power is interruped immediately. A difference occurs in the case, that a person gets an electrical shock and a bit of electrical current leads from the body to the ground (instead through the wire back to the plug). GFCI protectors are the best safety invention ever, so use them if you are worried!

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    Thanks guys,

    I went back to the store and eventually found some double fixture T5's that were a reasonable price and had a power cord. They were in an entirely unmarked box, which explains why I never found them the first time! I only realised they were there this time because someone had taken one out of the box and not put it back in properly.

    Jesse - yeah, I've never needed to rewire anything! We've got power cords we've had for years that are fine, and all of our lamps etc still have their original (albeit often very old) plugs. Nothings failed on us yet, so it's never been something I've needed to do.

    If I hadn't been putting the lights in such a high humidity setup I would probably not have worried about the splicing - it's always worth learning something new.

    The GFCI adaptor sounds great, thanks for the tip!

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