Algae Scrubber Basics

Electrical Protection Concerns

Please note: This is the version that was posted online in early 2012.  While the majority of the information presented here is still correct, there are a few things that are outdated.  I've been meaning to update this for quite a long time, if you have any questions, you can click the Discussion tab and ask!

Thanks,
Bud (Turbo)

Electrical Protection

This should really go without saying, but you should always plug your lights into Ground-Fault protected receptacles (GFCI).

Always use waterproof sockets for your CFLs and end caps for your T5HO lamps.  This is a little more expensive, but is necessary to avoid corrosion and electrocution.  Generally, waterproof CFL sockets do a pretty good job of sealing the base and socket from moisture, but they still should be silicone sealed for an extra layer of protection.  T5HO waterproof end caps do an excellent job of sealing the end of the lamp, but the wires that feed into the bottom of the sockets are not sealed, so after all wiring is complete, you need to fill in the bottom with silicone caulk.

You can't see it, but there will be tiny amounts of salt spray that will build up where you screw a CFL bulb in, and also where you make electrical connections.  When the buildup gets thick enough, it can short out and trip a breaker or GFCI receptacle, or shock you.  So each time you replace a CFL screw-in lamp, re-seal it.  You should be able to pour water over it without it causing a problem (but don’t try it).  Use GE Silicone I Door & Window caulk, which is generally accepted as aquarium safe, especially since you don’t intend for it to be in direct contact with water anyways.

Moisture protection for LED fixtures, DIY or off-the-shelf, is the biggest issue facing the progression of LED Algae Scrubbers.  At this point, it’s just a risk that you either take or try to mitigate against.  So far, no build that I have seen has incorporated adequate moisture protection, aside from passive cooling and spray-coating a DIY fixture.