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Ceramic Metal Halide Bulbs?


semicaregiver
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I was going to ask this in the current question about MH vs HPS,but my question is more about veg than bloom.

 

I currently have a couple of 8 tube T5's I use in veg and I saw some literature about "ceramic" metal halide bulbs that might be a better light source and lower energy.

 

These units seem to run at 315 watts vs 450 for the 8 tube t5's. And they seem to have a much better spectrum. The units that are currently being sold by the hydro supplier seem to go for around $500 which makes them less attractive, but this is sort of a two part question.

 

First does anyone have any hands on experience with them. Second, it would seem that anyone with a closet full of hardware could put one together for around $100. The literature about the bulbs tells that they were developed for industrial applications where a shop with 400w MHS units could run a 315w ceramic mh and have power savings plus a more daylight illumination. The only change one seems to need to make is the bulb base is a two prong configuration vs the std. screw in mogul. And, they only run on magnetic ballast. The base is available from electrical wholesalers for around $12. Way back in my closet of stuff that is too good to throw away are old reflectors and 400w magnetic ballasts.

 

One note on the claims I have seen. It seems that like every new technology there are folks claiming to replace the std 1K with these 315w models. That sort of hype seems to have relegated the bulbs to the loser category. That said, they have two bulbs. One is a 3000 kevlin and one is a 4200 kelvin. The thought would be the 4200 for veg.

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I've been running 400 watt CMH bulbs since 2010.  They are outstanding in every respect but one - you can't get them as 1000 watters.  Everything you said about them is correct, and I'll add another benefit.  They last forever compared to MH or HPS with very little loss in output.  While MH and HPS have a steady loss of lumens throughout their lives, CMH stays bright until it croaks.  I've got one in my veg room that will be 3 years old in August and it's at 90% of it's original output (18 hours/day).  If I was using a regular MH I'd be swapping bulbs every 6 months.  They are also jacketed so they are safe to run exposed (as opposed to in a hood with glass).  They supposedly run cooler than MH or HPS, too, although I can't verify that claim.

 

I can confirm that you can't run them on a digital ballast.  Took about 1/4 second to cook a new bulb when I forgot that.

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a regular mh will be better than t5's for veg (and flower). so yeah probably this ceramic thing will be as well.

 

why not just use mh?

I think this is a garden vs garden thing because all I got out of a 1k MH was a ton of stretch the t5s bushed out the plants and made them much easier to work with in the low ceiling of my basement.

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I have experienced better veg growth with an 8 bulb T5 vs a 1,000 watt metal halide. I think this is due to the larger footprint of the T5 fixture. The T5 has less intensity at the center of the fixture compared to the MH, but with an even canopy I get a higher level of light , on average, over the entire foot print vs the MH. Also, with the lower temps generated by the T5, with an even canopy I can keep the light close to all of the plants without fear of leaf burn. The problem with T5 is the limited depth of penetration. Depth of penetration isn't much of an issue in veg. This is where HIDs rule once the plants stretch.

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I'll chime in...I believe the op is asking about the 315w Philips bulbs that are newish(2-3yrs) that are being used by some ballast/reflector makers like Sun System's LEC and Cycloptic's Greanbeams. They have an excellent spectrum and come in a 3100k & 4200k. I wouldn't say a single bulb could replace a 1k by any means, but is maybe comparable to a 600w and blows a 400w out of the water for flower.

 

The spectrum on those bulbs is the bees knees and if you're solely using them for the veg the 4200k will serve you well. This is if you don't mind spending more up front for a more efficient platform (similar in mindset to LED lighting).

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The idea of replacing my t-5's is something I came across by accident.  I am a sucker for new tech so I read everything.  

 

Currently I need to rebulb my t-5's (16 bulbs can add up) and at the sametime I was reading some of the background on the 315w CMH bulbs.   I could not justify the $500 plus that the assorted mfg want for a complete package, but from what I have read about the 315w bulbs, I could dig out some old 400w mh ballast from the closet along with some older reflectors and just buy a bulb (approx $100) and a new socket $15 and I would be in business.  

 

I am not looking to replace a 1000w hps or even a 600w mh, just 440w of t5.    Seemed like a good idea, just have not found any posts from hydro people doing this and I thought I would put it out there to see if anyone had any experience.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The lec 315 watt fixtures are awesome, like someone above said, they cost more up front, but in terms of efficiency, you just cant get any better. Im watching my buddy run 2 of them in place of one 1k hps right now, and its looking like it might even out perform the hps in regards to gram per watt. If all turns out as expected, i will be replacing my light set ups and splitting my e bill by half or more while keeping output the same.

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I've been running 400 watt CMH bulbs since 2010.  They are outstanding in every respect but one - you can't get them as 1000 watters.  Everything you said about them is correct, and I'll add another benefit.  They last forever compared to MH or HPS with very little loss in output.  While MH and HPS have a steady loss of lumens throughout their lives, CMH stays bright until it croaks.  I've got one in my veg room that will be 3 years old in August and it's at 90% of it's original output (18 hours/day).  If I was using a regular MH I'd be swapping bulbs every 6 months.  They are also jacketed so they are safe to run exposed (as opposed to in a hood with glass).  They supposedly run cooler than MH or HPS, too, although I can't verify that claim.

 

I can confirm that you can't run them on a digital ballast.  Took about 1/4 second to cook a new bulb when I forgot that.

Spongle, reqally nice to see you have not croaked.

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