building your own HPS or MH light system part 1
by, 11-14-2010 at 01:52 AM (321 Views)
One of the best ways to save a bundle on equipment is to wire up your own lights from a kit. By buying the parts unassembled, you can probably construct a light for half of what it would cost "ready made" from a hydro shop. As well as saving money, you can avoid the paranoia involved in shopping there. Many people might be reluctant to work with wires and electricity, which is certainly understandable, But it isn't nearly as difficult as you might think.
Let's examine what is inside a ballast. There really isn't much depending on which type of light you buy. An high pressure sodium (HPS) ballast consists of 3 parts: The transformer, the capacitor, and the ignitor. A metal halide (MH) ballast generally has just the transformer and capacitor.
Every single one of these parts is available at pretty much any lighting or electrical supply warehouse, including the bulb and socket. Break out the phone book and look in the yellow pages under "lighting". Call them and ask if they carry "Transformer, capacitor, ignitor (if for HPS), and socket" for whatever size bulb you wish to use (150, 400, 1000 etc.) and type (Metal halide or High pressure sodium) light you wish to purchase. Odds are, they will have it. If not, try another store until you find the one which has what you want. You can also order this stuff from many online electrical supply places. There is virtually no worry about having this stuff shipped to your house, since it did not come from a "high profile" hydro shop.
When you purchase your ballast components, be sure to buy the correct line voltage rating you intend to operate it on. Most homes in the US are wired for 120 volts. If your house happens to have a different voltage (IE: 210) then you need the corresponding ballast parts.
Another option is to purchase what is known as a "multi-tap" ballast. This type of ballast has a wire connection which can be changed to allow several optional voltages. Some stores may only carry multi-tap ballasts to save money on inventory. A multi-tap ballast will work fine in any situation. Multi-tap ballasts usually have the following options inside: 120/208/240 and 277 volts.
Besides the transformer, ignitor, capacitor, bulb and socket, you are going to also need the following: About 20 feet of 14(or better) gauge wire, a male plug set, about 8 wire nuts.
The wire and the plug are for installing the power cord and socket to your ballast. You can also simply buy a long heavy duty extension cord, which you then will cut up. Whatever wire you buy, make sure it is rated to at least 15 amps and 1500 watts (14 gauge). That size is good for wiring all the way up to 1000W lights.
Now, when you get your parts, you will also likely get a wiring diagram. It may come on a separate sheet of paper, but more than likely it will be on a label on the transformer.
[URL="http://www.overgrow.com/edge/gallery/3676/ballastdia1.gif"][IMG]http://www.drugs-forum.com/growfaq/966_files/t_ballastdia1.gif[/IMG][/URL]I have added a few descriptions for the sake of clarity, but the basic schematic is the same. This is for a HPS lamp and describes the wiring for the 3 internal components and socket. For some people, the schematic may be a little confusing. Let's take a look at the same thing but in a “real time" photograph, instead of the diagram.
[URL="http://www.overgrow.com/edge/gallery/3676/ballastdia2.jpg"][IMG]http://www.drugs-forum.com/growfaq/966_files/t_ballastdia2.jpg[/IMG][/URL]You can clearly see all of the components you will be dealing with and how they will be wired together. Let's examine some of the more important points.
If you look at the transformer, you can see it is labeled as having a "short side" and a "Long side". These are my descriptions for the two different areas of the transformer. If you look carefully you will see that the transformer has two protuberances where wires come out. One of them is thicker than the other. That is the "long side". It is important to know the difference when you’re wiring it. The capacitor is a simple affair with just 2 wires.
The ignitor has 3 wires. Look closely at the wires running from the socket. You can see that each of them comes to a junction with two other wires. All 3 wires at a junction(and at all junction points for all wires) are held together using a "wire nut". This is just a plastic cap which screws onto wires to hold them together. Make all the wire connections using wire nuts, do not use tape.
Although you can't see it, all wires have something printed on them so you can identify them. It is going to be something numerical("X1","120") or alphabetical ("lamp", "com"). In my example, wires are noted with X1 or X2 or X3, other ballast kits may have wires which simply say "one" or "Two" and "volts"(instead of "120"). Sometimes wires are colored ( the ignitor wires in my example are red blue and white) sometimes not. When wiring a ballast, don't get mislead by the color of wires on the ignitor, capacitor or transformer. These wires are connected according to what is written on them, not by color. Color will only come into play when dealing with wires coming from your power cord and socket. These are going to simply be black, white and green with no labeling.[/QUOTE]