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Thread: How often should Metal Halide bulbs be replaced?

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    swords's Avatar
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    Hi folks, I've been using a 400W metal halide on the large intermediate Nepenthes grow chamber (slightly cooler by about 10*F day and night than my lowland tank). All the plants are growing very well but several of them have started to produce pitchers smaller than expected (condsidering growth of several months ago and also my current feeding schedule of every 7 days or so). I am simply equating it to fading lighting and figure it is likely due to be replaced.

    How long should Metal Halide bulbs last? It has been over a year since I've begun using this bulb. I don't know how long the guy I bought the setup from had used it before I got it. I replace my fluorescent tubes every 8 -12 months but I thought MH were supposed to last longer, but how long I've no idea.

    Can I use any MH tubes apropriate for plant growth or must it be something special dependent upon the ballast? Mine is a Hamilton PFO, dual control 400W remote ballast made for reef aquariums. I am using one 400W on this chamber and one over the new highland chamber - when it gets built. At the moment I am using Ushio 6500K long tube type MH but they have a nice looking 400W MH bulb at the garden center that is rounded with a warmer color temp (5500K) and is cheaper than a bulb made for growing corals (which I'm not doing anyway). My ballast is by Hamilton but is supposedly not one of those "PFO EYE" ballasts that will only use the Ushio 400W bulbs.

    Thanks for any thoughts from the indoor halide growers! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif[/img]

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    I was under the impression they should be replaced yearly but I am only going on what I have heard.
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    Hi Josh,

    MH lamps last quite long with a very small decline in output levels. At the end of life they degrade more rapid (from what I've read). The 70W MH-lamps I'm using have an average lifespan of 6000 hours. I don't know the lamps available in the US, but here in Germany we can use every 70W MH and Sodium lamp with the same ballast. They all need the same inductance. In case the seller is not sure about it try to get the datasheet of the bulb which will tell you the requirements.

    Cheers Joachim

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    So if your running 14hrs a day, after one year it adds up to 5096 hours. I made a pretty good guess ;>

    T
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    swords's Avatar
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    SO I gotta buy new bulbs for sure! Heck maybe something will flower when the light levels jump up cos it's sure the levels will be way brighter when I replace this 1-2 year old bulb!

    Oh boy! [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html312/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif[/img]

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    Careful you don't burn the plants!
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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    What can I put below the lights as a shade (inside the chamber away from the bulb)? Can I just string up a shade cloth made out of a flour sack dish towel? (sort of like cheesecloth but a bit thicker).

    How long do I have to leave the shade up? Do I have to take the shade off for a few hours each day for a week or two to acclimate them or...?

    On the fluorescent lit tank I just switch 'em for new. I get reddening on the old leaves but that doesn't bother me as they don't burn and get crispy (cos I have the humidity set for 80-90%) they just get red and colorful. But then MH is a much more intense light...

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    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    Well I don't do alot of under light growing with MH/HPS. Perhaps Jeff Shafer or Joachim could answer this better. Perhaps a small piece of aluminum screen material to cut the light for a week or so? I would not reduce daylength or anything. Perhaps I am being overcautious but MH is indeed a different situation than fluorescent and I think the risk is potentially there.

    I would replace the bulb and shade lightly while monitoring the plants closely the first day for potential burning and again when removing the shade material.
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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