Monday, May 12, 2014

My DIY Hood for T5 & Radion LED Lighting

This is a follow-up to my post from last week, LED and T5 Hybrid: My Ultimate Lighting System.

I received a lot of requests for more info on my DIY hood that houses 2 x EcoTech Gen 3 Radions and 4 x 55W ATI T5's, so I thought I'd address those topics in today's post. Many thanks to everyone for reading and for your questions/comments!


The hood measures roughly 20" x 50" x 3". Rather than constructing the top with a solid piece of wood, I decided to use two 6.5" x 48" long strips (1/2" thick birch) that are connected with three horizontal strips. Constructing the top this way made it easier to create the center "cut-outs" for the LED's. Additionally, it also made it made the top of the hood look more structurally appealing.

The center channel measures 6" wide so the Radion light pucks can shine through the hood without obstruction. A couple of quarter-round rails were placed next to the open channel so the Radion fixtures will sit in the channel snugly. Ample amount of wood glue and finishing nails were used to make sure everything is rock-solid!

Once the top panel was done, it was time to attach the sides. 2.25" wide trim (typically used for door frames) was glued and nailed to the top panel. A small amount of wood putty was used to filled in all the gaps and a bit of light sanding prepped the hood for paint.

Next comes three coats of Rust-Oleum Copper Hammertone paint. Inside of the hood was painted black for aesthetics.

Once all the paint has dried, it was time to install the T5 components. AquaticLife T5 reflectors were mounted inside the hood along with the AquaticLife T5 retrofit kit (which includes a ballast with pre-wired endcaps to make things easier) and four ATI 48" T5 bulbs (two Blue Plus and two Coral Plus bulbs).

Six screws were mounted at the top of the hood to allow the hood to easily side in to the rails of my existing AI Rail Kit.

With the hood in place. The Radions simply sit in the open channels. With the width match that of the Radion, everything stays in place securely and I don't have to worry about my 'fancy' lights falling into the water. The open channels were purposely made longer than the lights to allow for ventilation and to allow me to position the Radions to exactly where I want them.

The final steps involves cleaning up the wiring and programming the lights through EcoSmart Live.

With the new lights installed, the corals are happy as ever. Many of my brown SPS corals are starting to develop some vibrant colors. I can't wait to see how these corals are going to look in 6 months!

With all my tools out of storage, I figured that it was time to tackle the fence in my front yard that I have long been procrastinating on building. It turned out to be black and brown, much like my LED/T5 hood... coincidence? Probably not!