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Sunrise/sunset Lighting

Discussion in 'Habitat Lighting' started by lboarts, Jan 19, 2011.

  1. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    I would like to add artificial sunrises and sunsets to my herp's habitat. Has anyone done this and is there any systems on the market that can accomplish this?
  2. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    OK, 13 view and no replies. Maybe it's time to elaborate, lol.

    The herp is a leopard gecko. I would like the lights to gradually come on to full strength over an hour or so, much like the sun rising. Then at night, the lights could fade slowly to off, again over about an hour or so.

    My thinking is this may help reduce stress on him, versus lights coming on and off all at once. This would replicate yet another aspect of his natural environment.

    Thoughts, anyone? Would this be something worth installing, if it could be done at a reasonable cost? Has anyone heard of anyone doing this? If this system were on the market, would anyone seriously consider it? Pros and cons?

    Let's brainstorm, folks. Your input would be appreciated.
  3. puzzlebean

    puzzlebean Elite Member

    I have never heard of such a thing, I have no idea how to do it. I have a fat-tail, which is similar in its habits as the leopard gecko, and he hides when he it's not really a big deal that the light just comes on. Unless your gecko is sleeping in the open and the light is coming on and waking him up, I don't really see the point...dunno
  4. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    Ty puzzle, just the sort of feedback I am looking for.

    My gecko does indeed sleep in his hide as well, but I have found him exploring his cage in the mornings when I get up, which is about 6 am, and his lights come on at 7 am. I am usually out the door by then, but I think it's safe to assume he's up and about at that time, at least on occasion.

    I can also say that while the lights are on, some does filter into his hides, as no hide is completely dark during daylight hours.

    Just trying to replicate his natural hab as much as possible, thinking maybe this would be one more step to achieving that.
  5. HDreptiles

    HDreptiles Elite Member

    I am sure there is a way to do it, but it might be costly and involve a little DIY on your part. I am thinking something along the lines of a dimmer with a timer and some type of automated dimmer control. You may want to check an electrical store to see what they have. Another option in that is I know some aquarium controllers may be able to do that, but they get costly. I was actually thinking of looking into something of that sort for my Herps. Let me know if you find anything.
  6. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    Will do HD, ty for the reply. I am wondering if this would benefit my herp enough to be worth the undertaking. I can accomplish the artificial sunset for around $50 in materials.

    The sunrise is a bit trickier and more costly, and won't work quite as well as the sunset. Still, I can install both to my cage for under $200. One added advantage to this system is it utilizes 6 vdc halogen lamps, which are bright enough and use minimal wattage, saving on electricity.

    Again, are the benefits to the herp worth the cost of the system? Even considering it will eventually pay for itself in reduced electricity consumption.
  7. gapeachkatie

    gapeachkatie Elite Member

    There is an automated sunrise/set simulation kit for aquariums that could easily be used for herps, but they tend to be $200 plus dollars. I know a friend of mine has one for a fish tank called aquacontroller, simulates sunrise/sunset, moon phases, and even seasonal changes.
    I also believe exo-terra makes one, but I am not absolutely sure.
  8. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    Found it peach, tyvm. They are made by Neptune Systems, very nice. Tons of features. Here's a link:

    Neptune Systems - AquaControllers - Home

    By upgrading my 24/7 timer to a 365/24/7 timer and using a plc instead of solid state delay timers and relays, I could essentially accomplish seasonal changes and moon phases as well, including remote access to alarms and controls. In fact, I may do just that. But for now, to keep cost down, I will stick with simple solid state control and and a basic 24/7 spdt digital timer.

    I certainly appreciate the feedback, though. It has already given me ideas for the future! :)

    The nagging question remains, how much will this benefit my herp?
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Not really that much. Most keepers I know just use a straight on straight off type of timer.
    However if you are set on the idea, the cheapest route would be to simply use a low wattage bulb on a timer, possibly a small LED, have it on for a while and then a second timer to bring on the main light. Then for sunset, do it in reverse.
  10. teach920

    teach920 Subscribed User Premium Member

    That is kind of what I currently do with my Bearded Dragons...I have their lights set on 2 different timers....A smaller flourescent bulb comes on first, then an hour later the main light comes on...In the evening, the main bulb goes off first, and the florescent stays on for about a while longer....not sure how much they really notice/appreciate it, but in my own opinion it does give the enclosure more of a "sunrise/sunset" feel.
  11. Rakoladycz

    Rakoladycz Elite Member

    I think it is a pretty neat idea. As I was reading a dimmer was my first thought but I would have had no idea as how to control it. I think the method Merlin posted would be the best value but it wouldn't be as gradual as the real deal.
  12. HDreptiles

    HDreptiles Elite Member

    Those are amazing controllers, but way overkill for what a herp would require. There are other controllers out there that are a little less sophisticated then the Aquacontroller. Those are meant to control everything from lights to pumps and powerheads and even water chemistry gauges.

    Here is a dimmer and timer all in one.

    Here is the Exo Tera one,
  13. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    Thanks, guys. I can get the sunset lights to fade off, but the sunrise will have to be timed stepping process like you describe. For now. I can design a smooth continuous brightening for a sunrise, but the cost is the main issue, as it would involve using servos to control rheostats. Hydroelectrics could be used too, and could even be incorporated into a waterfall type system utilizing reed switches in a slow filling basin/pond. But our leopard gecko has no need for that, lol.

    I did run into a snag today. After researching the halogen bulbs I planned on using, I discovered they have an avg life of 50 hours. Not quite sufficient, lol. A comparable bulb of lower wattage may be used. Incandescants can be used also and last much longer, about 5000 hrs, so that may be the route I take. They do take more wattage per lumen but at 6vdc it is minimal.
  14. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    sorry hd, somehow missed your post. that exoterra model is exactly what i have in mind. tyvm for the links. i will still play around with low vdc to produce the same results with the benifit of reduced power consumption, but I am seriously considering purchasing one of those as well. :)
  15. HDreptiles

    HDreptiles Elite Member

    You might be able to make your own too. Ballasts and end caps and all that are not that hard to wire up. I work in a lighting factory, and all we do is T5, T8, CFL, PC, and starting to get into LED technology. A DIY fixture is not completely out of the question. I am going to do one for my reef tank (if I ever build the stand). If you go that route, there is no end to the possibilities.

    I think the ExoTerra one is probably better to start playing around with it though. Good luck.
  16. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    TY HD. I am an industrial electrician and have designed and installed automation systems (my workplace having no engineers, lol), so this type of project appeals to me.

    My goals are reduced stress on the herp with reduced power consumption. Starting on a leo's cage is perfect in that their lighting requirements are minimal.

    As I expand to systems for different herps with more sophisticated lighting needs, the challenges will be even greater, hence more rewarding when accomplished. :-}

    Am I correct in saying LED's are not capable of being dimmed? I have not tried to dim one yet, but read recently they do not have dimming capability. If they did, I would definitely go that route, as their power consumption to lumen ratio is unequaled.
  17. HDreptiles

    HDreptiles Elite Member

    I am not really sure on that one. I thought they could be, but I am probably wrong. It is still a new science in my company and I have not really looked into it outside of aquarium applications and moonlighting. That might be something worth researching though.

    And if you come up with a good way, please share. I would love to do something like that for my herps as well as my fish.
  18. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    I sure will. Maybe this weekend I'll tear my flashlight apart and try it, lol.

    Before electronic dimming ballasts, fluorescent lights couldn't be dimmed, so I'd be surprised if there wasn't a way to accomplish it.
  19. avoidtheboyd

    avoidtheboyd Elite Member

    I wouldnt sink all that money in a system like that jsut for a leopard gecko. A simple light near their enclosure does it. All it need to accomplish is to tell them its time to do to sleep. Mine do fine with just a room light, They roam around at night and right when they turn the light on the head to bed for the day.
  20. lboarts

    lboarts Active Member

    They turn the lights on? You have some very well trained geckos! lol, jk.

    I think your missing my point, though. If I can develop a sunrise/set system at a reasonable cost that will save me money and benefit my leo and add one more natural element to his habitat, then why not undertake this challenge?

    I have the skills and experience, materials and desire to accomplish this. Like any new system being developed, there is an R&D phase which must be completed before any useful outcome can be achieved.

    What I don't have is a ton of experience with herps, so coming on here to discuss it is part of the research step in the Research and Development phase.

    My leo already has a 150 watt halogen lamp and 60 watt black light connected to a digital timer which cycles them on and off automatically, and the halogen is on a dimmer I can use to control the temp of his basking spot, which is monitored by a digital thermometer with a probe (not to mention the uth under his warm hide).

    I know this set up is sufficient for him. I would like to improve it, for both him and I. I have an idea of how to do this, one step in the process being this thread. And as it turns out, it's already paying off by the valuable feedback everyone has been so kind to share with me.

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