Don't worry, it is actually easier than you think to pick the right lamp and ballast combination. The most important fact to know is this: Our 4 foot lights will work in any 4 foot fixture designed for office or shop lights. Any. All. Every one. You can also choose to run them at higher power with our ballasts and parts, but you don't have to. Most hobbyists and even horticulturists will simply run them in a cheap, $20 fixture you can find at any lumber or hardware store. We design them like this on purpose, to save you money and make things simple.
Now we need to know what you are doing. Scroll down to your application for detailed information.
General info (read first)
Our lamps are very different than typical lamps in that they can be run on a wide range of wattages, depending on how much power you want. For instance, the SG-1-40 can be run on 32 watts or 80 watts. The more power you put in, the more UV you get out, but the shorter the lamp life. More power also means more heat. Which is best will depend on your needs. We have kits for the most common configurations, but you can also build your own system tailored to your needs. We can help you dial in the right power for your project if you email or call us.
All of our lamps (unless stated otherwise) are RUVA style lamps, meaning they have a built in reflector. We do this because painted fixtures will NOT reflect UV, so you lose half the light. By putting a reflector inside the lamp, you get all the light pushed towards your product, and you don't have to concern yourself with a reflector system that is capable of reflecting UV in most applications. The shiny side of aluminum foil does work well for boxes where you have lights on all four sides of the product. The lamp on the left is a standard lamp, the one on the right is a RUVA. These cost a little more, but you can see why it makes the lamps much more intense, and a better value.
Lamp life is approximate. The more you cycle a lamp, the shorter the life. This is because starting a lamp is the hardest thing you can do to it. If you turn your lamps on and off every 15 minutes, you will get less lamp life. If you run them for many hours at a time, you will get longer lamp life than we state. The more power you use, the shorter the life as well. "Lamp Life" is not when the lamp will die, it is when the UV output will likely hit 70% of original. Many people use the lamps for much longer than we state here, they are just slower (ie: weaker) after the rated lamp life.
At the bottom of the page, I will explain all the different ways to power these lights.
Growing cannabis or other plants (for plant stressing)
Horticultural use is one of the biggest parts of our business. For cannabis, the Universal UV is the best all around lamp for small growing areas like tents or single 400w-1000w hoods. The Flower Power is the best for using multiple hoods. You use 4 Universal UV lamps for each 1000w hood (or equivalent) or you can use two Flower Power bulbs for each 1000w hood. The Universal lamps are many times stronger than a reptile light, but the Flower Power are many times stronger than the Universal. Universal is good when you need to be really close to the plant. The Flower Power should be a foot or more from the plants, but cover a larger area, so you use half as many of them. Expect a bare minimum of 15% increase in THC the first time you use them, most get 20-25% increases the first use, and that will increase with experience. We have documented cases of over 30% increases and many with over 30% total THC content using these lamps. Yes, they really work that well and we guarantee it.
Aging wood or other materials, or industrial testing of how materials stand up to the sun
We have a couple of lamps that will work for you, the Universal UV
and the 4 foot SG-1 series
The SG series actually come in 6 foot, 4 foot and 20" versions, but the 4 foot is the most common size we sell. All SG lamps have the same spectrum, it is just a matter of how to power them. This section will mainly talk about the 4 foot version.
The Universal UV is a FR32T8 lamp. This means it is about 4 foot long and 1 inch in diameter. It can be powered using 32 to 60 watts, with the "sweet spot" being around 40-45 watts. This is the exact same size and format as standard office light fixtures use. The SG-1-40 is a FR40T12 lamp. It is the same length (~4 foot) but it is 1.5 inches in diameter.
The Universal UV is a solid, all around aging lamp and we sell plenty of them for that purpose. They are less expensive when buying 4 or more, they are easier to work with in 32w fixtures, and they have a higher UVB ratio than the sun, making them particularly harsh, which is useful. They last around 1000 hours, depending on how often you cycle them. Overall intensity is similar to the SG lamps, but they cover a smaller area and last around 1/2 as long. It is a good lamp to just put in a standard lamp fixture for light to moderate duty, or where you need the highest UVB ratio. Because it works well in standard fixtures, it is easy to use.
The SG-1-40 is the premium lamp for this application. It has more peaks in the spectrum, a wider spectrum, and on average it approximates the sun better. It also lasts 1500-2000 hours, depending on how they are run. In particular, if you are aging wood, this is the best lamp you can get due to the spectrum and life. The primary benefit is for those who do higher volume or large quantities of work, as it is less expensive to operate.
Finishing violins or other instruments that do NOT use UV cure resin
We've done a lot of testing, and hands down, you want the SG-1 series lamps. The Universal UV
will work, the Curall 365
will work, but they pale in comparison to the SG lamps. Because we are dealing with thin wood and running the lights for long periods of time, we have found that using a medium power setup is best. It isn't quite as fast, but it is still very fast and will result in less heat building up in the chamber. The most common solution is using 12 lamps, although you can use less or more. 12 gives the best balance of exposure, and the ability to get maximum oxidation in less than a week, easily. Most violin makers use the 4 foot version of the lamp, and so many violin makers use our lamps, we have a special kit just for you. The Four bulb violin kit
is just what it says, a kit with 4 bulbs. If you want 8 or 12 or 16 lamps, just buy multiple kits. It has the lamps, the lamp holders and the ballast to power the bulbs at around 45W, which is in the sweet spot for these lamps. At this power, they also produce disproportionate UVA, which is what you want. The spectrum produced will make your violins look like they have been aged for over a decade, and give them a natural glow when used with linseed oil based resins.
We recommend using a humidifier if you are going to first age the wood, before adding any oils, so the wood doesn't dry out, as the chamber can still get 90 degrees in most configurations, and dry out the wood.
Finishing guitars or other instruments that DO use UV cure resin
This is in some ways similar to the violin section above, except you are using actual UV cure resin. For your application, you want either the Curall 365
, or preferably the SG-1 series
, which comes in 4', 6' and 20" versions. You really want to use the SG lamps and SunHorse ballasts for these applications. If you are doing bolt on neck guitars, then the 4 foot lamps are fine. If you are doing neck through, then the 6 foot is required. They both cost the same, they both use the same ballast. There is an advantage to using the 6 foot lights, which is it allows you to get under the guitar better. The disadvantage is that shipping is higher, but not drastically so.
If you are a hobbyist and just want to experiment around, the Curall 365 is ok but slow. The problem is that guitars use much thicker finishes than most other applications, so it takes a lot of power to push though the finish and get the bottom of the layer cured right. If you use a very thick finish, you might think it is cured when it in fact is not: just the surface is cured. This is one of the challenges with thick finishes, as once the top coat is cured, it actually filters out the UV, making it harder to cure the lower portion. The only solution is time and patience.
Pool cues, fishing lures, other items under 4 foot long
We have many customers curing fishing lures and many customers curing pool cues, plus lots of other similar type items. It is one of the more popular applications. One of our customers sent us this design
he uses for fishing lures, but it would work for cues just as well. For cues, you can get by with 2 lamps if you are rotating the cue (very common practice to smooth out the finish), but we still strong recommend 4 lamps.
As for which lamps and ballast, it is pretty simple: The Curall 365 is fine, the SG-1-40 is better. Using a pair of 32W standard light fixtures is fine, using a Workhorse or SunHorse ballast is better. It all boils down to the volume you use. Many build cues or lures as a hobby, and maybe do 20-40 sticks a year, or maybe 100 lures a year. This generally means that you aren't in a huge rush, so the hardware store fixture and the Curall 365 lamps are fine. You can even use the SG-1-40 lamps (they are four feet long) in that fixture, even though that is running them at low power, and get better results. This is a pretty cheap way to get into UV curing.
If you are doing any kind of volume or simply want the faster curing for quality control, you need the SG lamps and the SunHorse ballast. The SG lamps come in 20", 4 foot and 6 foot, although 4 foot is the most common because it is easy and long enough for several lures or one good cue. The SG 4 lamp kit
has the four lamps, ballast and lamp ends in one convenient kit. We have a couple of customers that use 2 or 3 of these kits, for 8 or 12 bulbs, but they are doing dozens of sticks a day. The good thing is that this will scale up: if you want twice the power, just buy two kits.
Industrial UV testing (to ensure items can withstand the sun)
Again, he Universal UV
and the 4 foot SG-1 series
fit the bill. The Universal is the easiest for smaller or one time projects. Because they can be powered by standard fixtures, this makes them even easier, although they can also be powered at much higher power levels with our ballasts. The SG comes in 4 or 6 foot lengths, so can be handier for large scale projects or long term projects. They last twice as long as the Universal UV lamp as well, so they are cheaper in the long run. These two lamp series are very different from each other but serve a purpose for industrial age testing. The Universal is smaller, lower power but has a higher ratio of UVB. The SG-1-40 and SG-1 are larger around so produce more total UV. While they produce a lower ratio
of UVB vs. UVA, they are actually closer to the sun in their ratio and produce super high frequency UVB, which is more damaging, so there are advantages to each. You can power them with a variety of ballasts, shown at the bottom of this page.
Curing small items, very thin layers of finish
We have a shorter lamp, the SG-1-20
which is 20 inches long (including the lamp ends), and can be run at very high power (3 of them in VHO mode on a WorkHorse 8) or at lower levels using the WorkHorse 8 or 7. Technically, they can be run on the SunHorse, but it is a bit of overkill and you aren't getting the full power of the ballast
Some applications include building your own hand held rig with 3 lamps and the WH8 ballast (we have a kit for that
), which is very handy for spot curing. Keep in mind, UV lamps get more efficient as they get longer, but these still do a very good job in a compact space.
Powering your lamps
All the T8 and T12 lamps use the lamp lamp holder. The Univeral UV and the Curall 365 have very different UV output, but they can be powered in exactly the same way since they are the exact same size and run the same vacuum inside. The common denominator is usually the ballast, and how many it will drive. We use very special ultra-high-frequency ballasts that are designed to drive ultraviolet lamps. This gets you more UV per watt. Of course, if you need more lamps, you just add another ballast and more lamps and connect them together, this is just the minimum that can be driven with each system.
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UV or Curall 365 - FR32T8 lamps
|32w Shop Light
||Generic two bulb fixture you can buy at the hardware store.
||Standard, medium power configuration.
||Very good all around configuration.
||Ex High output
||Very useful configuration, very high output, moderate
||Insanely high output, but 10% over specification: not recommended nor
- FR40T12 lamps
||Low power mode mainly creates UVA, not UVB, but runs very cool and is very
||Standard mode, good where heat is an issue.
||Very High Output, at max rating.
||Standard mode, good where heat is an issue.
||Preferred configuration for power vs. life
||Not recommended nor supported., 20% out of spec.
A quick note about the "UV Power" rating - This is only useful
when comparing in the exact same section. You can't compare the SG lamps to the T8
lamps using this number because the SG lamps are 50% larger in diameter. In
otherwords, it is used for measuring relative power of the ballasts ONLY. Using this
number for any other purpose (like comparing it to other brand lamps) is completely
meaningless. These numbers are generated using reference lamps we keep solely for
testing ballasts. These reference lamps are not products we sell.