Originally Posted by furballi
I'd check the specs on the new ballast to see if it is rated for 36 watt. Most commercial stuffs have a 10% tolerance, so you're probably okay. Yes, I would not run a 32 watt and a 36 watt off of one ballast.
I would expect more oxidation at the ends of the wire since these are exposed to higher than average humidity. Copper will turn green when oxidized. You may want to tin all copper terminals apply RTV silicone to improve corrosion resistance.
Use an ohm meter to check the resistance from the power terminals to ground (usually the metal reflector). Anything under 100 ohm is suspect. Also make sure the body of the ballast is grounded to the 3rd round prong of your AC plug.
Thanks so much for the tips. However, I checked with several electronics suppliers and they think that there is absolutely no problem with running a 32W and a 36W bulb off the same dual F32 electronic ballast - all that happens is that the 36W is slightly underpowered, which doesn't matter, since it's a very high efficiency bulb which throws a lot of light that is highly beneficial in photosynthesis.
1) How exactly should I ground the body of the ballast? Just tie a wire around it and insulate it with electrical tape and run the covered wire to the third prong of the outlet? And are you sure this should be done if the wiring instructions provided no instruction for doing this?
2) How can I tin all copper terminals? With a soldering iron and raw tin soldering wire?
3) Where can I get RTV silicone to improve corrosion resistance and how would I apply it?
I tend toward adopting the simplest and least expensive solution that will work - taking everything into account, I think that the very simplest and least time consuming things to do are:
1) replace my end caps, either with the water-resistant ones I have (6 of 8 have lasted +8 years without problems) or, for $40 total, replace them with fully waterproof end caps. The problem appears to have originated from corrosion from moisture inside the end caps.
2) use polycarbonate tubes to cover my T8 bulbs to help prevent moisture from reaching the end caps and to protect the bulbs. This is simpler and easier for maintenance that using the glass tank covers I have.