LED's to replace a 2 x 150w Radium setup - looking for thoughts!

Discussion in 'Aquarium Lighting By Dana Riddle' started by mcarroll, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Onedesign1: (or anyone else with some good insight!) :)

    Background:
    I'm currently growing SPS in an 18" deep, 50 breeder.
    Light is currently by two 150w Radiums on M81 ballasts (so they're really ~175w, measured with a KillAWatt) in a Coralife Aqualight Advanced fixture.
    I plan to upgrade in the Spring (funds willing) to a larger system - 24" to 30" deep, undecided at present - so keeping this in mind as well.​


    First, due to lack of time and budget, the main differences in my goal from most of the DIY threads here are that I intend (somewhat as in the Sfiligoi Genesis LED or Sirius) to wire up GU10 sockets in a hood/pendant rather than stars and heatsinks. Also, I plan to get the (e.g. blue) GU10 bulbs from China via eBay vs using high power/high-dollar Crees (which only seem to be offered in white anyway).

    Saving time and money both up front as well as in the longer term are the main design objectives (after growth and beauty of the corals of course). There's a pretty good thread over at nano-reef about the GU10 bulbs and related successful tanks, but of course (almost) nobody there has a tank near the size I have, or plan to have.

    Customization - to an extent at least - seems not to be a problem for the eBay seller I'm considering, so I'm thinking of getting bulbs made for the main lighting with two cool white (CW), two blue (BL) LED's (4x1w) or one CW, two BL (3x1w), as well as a mix of a few other bulbs that are all blue, all NW, all CW, all green and all red - all 1x3w or 3x1w. I may also try to get a few different sets of optics (30, 60,90, 120 maybe?) at the time of purchase - haven't investigated this possibility yet.

    Obviously, I plan on some experimentation with bulb combos to dial in the right color (to hopefully match my Radiums), so I plan to wire in as many receptacles as seems practical in whatever hood I make.

    My main question concerns thoughts on use of optics. I read that Onedesign1 (who has one of my favorite tank sizes - 120g) recently "upgraded" to 90deg optics (IIRC) from no optics. I'm guessing from here (assuming lights are about 8" from the water surface) that Onedesign1 is getting about a 16" spread (down from 28") on each lamp after the upgrade. Wondering if optics went on everything and/or if there was strategic placement of the lenses at particular locations or on particular colors?

    My guess is that the 2:1 bulbs I sepc'd above will be the staple and I'll probably lens them to 60deg or 90deg - maybe tighter if I decide to suspend the new hood higher up - then the solid color bulbs (CW, NW, Red, Green) with no optics or 120deg will be fewer in number and more spread out.

    Also, anyone have thoughts on using RGB GU10's instead of discreet colors or even instead of the mixed 2:1 bulbs? Although the flexibility would be awesome, I feel disinclined due to lack of intensity after color adjustment, but have never seen one in action. (I remember the PFO Solaris well - yeah, it could look 20K.....but could only keep fish alive.) maybe if I had upwards of 40 of these per 24"x24" of tank surface agea it would still be sufficient at 20K? ( up to a 7 x 7 bulb grid should fit)

    Finally, getting these bulbs with dimming circuits built in doesn't cost much more and it's easy to wire separate channels - what colors/bulbs do you think you'd have as dimmable on this kind of rig? Do you think it'd be worthwhile to get them all dimmable, or is the number of sockets/ease of changing a bulb probably enough adjustability? (I'll probably have at least the red's and/or NW's dimmable for sunrise/sunset.)

    Thanks in advance - let me know if I left anything pertinent out!

    -Matt
     
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  2. Reefnjunkie

    Reefnjunkie Acropora Junkie R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award

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    Matt I'll keep it short and simple-The times I went "cheap" on LEDs via ebay or Deal extreme buying Chinese LEDs they were junk-you get what you pay for in my opinion-you may get lucky but I am a stats guy and the odds are betterbuying quality in the long rung-

    All my fixtures I have and have been built are Cree 3 watt LEDS and a 2:1 ratio of Royal Blue to white (6500K) and using meanwell drivers that I contol via my APEX-I advise dimmable for sure-IME
    Also, I have found the 70 degree optics give me the best par but I do also run 1 fixture without optics.

    Good luck with which ever route you go, I remember how mind numbing it was looking for info (good) on LEDs when I was looking at getting into them

    witht he footprint you have I would run 2 24 bulb 12x8 heatsink fixtures ( I used to run 1 over my 40 breeder but did not do SPS in that build.

    My 400 is 90% SPS and DIY LED
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012
  3. ReefLEDLights

    ReefLEDLights Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Agreed completely. We get those manufacturers writing us daily and those emails go straight to the trash/spam folder. The failure rate on the drivers for those units was ridiculous and we dropped the PAR38 based systems because it defeated the goal of quality and long term investment.
     
  4. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Thanks for the encouragement!

    I'm ordinarily of the same mindset (AI's have been my target until the budget collapsed) - spend now or spend later - but budget is tight, the power meter is spinning and that bulb replacement date beckons. :)

    New Radiums will be about the same as or more than I would spend on this whole rig I described - epecially if I'm realistic and count two bulb replacement cycles and power usage. A set (2) of new Radiums alone is about $180 - a lot more if I buy locally.

    If I go completely nuts and order 40 GU10's it would only be around $240 and I'd likely have a bunch of spares/different colors to experiment with. If they last more than 6 months, I'm ahead of the curve and at least learned something in the process. In reality I'll probably get away with less than 40. And on the worst case scenario that I do get a high failure rate, at least I'm not continuing to put Mercury in the garbage....er....recycling center.

    If I had time to grok the details, going the heatsink+stars route might be a better option - can't afford to pay anyone for their time or expertise though and I've only got about a month or so left to plan this.

    -Matt
     
  5. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I will keep this in mind in case plans change! :)

    -Matt
     
  6. ReefLEDLights

    ReefLEDLights Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    Grok you completely water brother on wanting to be frugel.

    And what Brad was talking about
    [​IMG]

    an example
    https://www.reef2reef.com/forums/reef-led-lights/74957-lighting-40b-upgraded.html

    B
    ecause the one thing I learned in this hobby is spend once, spend right no need to spend again. Whereas everytime I tried to be cheap, I had to pay for it, literally. Skimmers, pumps, lights, salt, etc. If you figure 240$ in 6 months then 480 = 1 year and then they start to degrade light output you are back to square one with conventional lighting. Whereas with other methods you can do them as you can afford it and then enjoy the benefits for 11years.

    -Rick
     
  7. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Alright!

    I placed a preliminary order to get some of these bulbs and sockets to play with.

    I'm at least starting with the most common configuration for sale: 3 x 1 watt LEDs with 30 degree optics

    I ordered 4 each blue and cool white, 2 warm white and 25 sockets.

    I plan to make a test fixture out of some combination of these bulbs and light up half of my 38 gallon (19" deep) that is currently lit by four Ecoxotic Panorama strips (gen.1 - no reflectors).

    Not sure what delivery will be like considering the holiday there, but i ordered from one of the larger shops so its possible they may ship out sooner than later.

    Either way, I'm hoping to have more to post in a few weeks. :)
     
  8. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I guess I lost this thread for a while, so time for a small update. :)

    I've been running this light for a while now. I started (photos and some particulars there) with the de facto standard 1 Cool White:1 Blue bulb ratio but found that to be very very blue. I ordered some bulbs with the combination of 2 blue LED's and 1 cool white LED to replace the all-blue's and I think it's much better looking.

    Growth and color have remained good since the switch from halide. The fixture currently runs at about 83 watts (102 VA) and I have had no failures - so I consider this a success. :D

    Of course what good is success unless you build on it, right? I've got some shading issues, and I never found any compelling way to hide all the wiring connections on it, so I'd be hard pressed to use this in anything but an in-wall scenario on anyone else's tank.

    So I've started another model that will have at least three, but as many as six rows of sockets vs the two rows in my current model, and will have a metal, groundable chassis for the wiring connections.

    The additional rows are for two purposes. For one, the very top of the tank has a pretty obvious spotlight/shading effect from the 30º optics, even at 12" from the water surface. One additional row of bulbs down the middle and a slight boost to the existing 7" spread (up to 10") between the outside two rows would resolve this - I just think an 18" wide tank is pushing it for coverage from only two rows. If the top of your tank were open water (vs dense with coral like mine) this would be a complete non-issue. The bottom 4/5 of the tank looks beautiful with great blending. I may also use some wider optics on the next model for this reason as well. For two, I still haven't gotten any red LED's over the tank to see the effect - and I know my old Radiums have a couple of prominent red spikes around 660-680nm that my current LED's do not replicate. Check this out. The additional rows will give me more room and flexibility to add color bulbs as desired without having to alter the main lighting.

    Additional cost outside of the additional bulbs and sockets will be minimal. If I can swing the budget for a new set of bulbs for this new fixture, I may move the current fixture to my 38 gallon and install the Ecoxotic Panoramas from the 38 gallon as the "middle row" of the new light to go on the 50 gal. Otherwise all the current GU10's will be recycled into the new fixture.

    -Matt
     
  9. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Another update! :)

    I've switched primary lighting on the 50 breeder again, this time to a 160-watt Maxspect Razor system. So far I like it, but I'm still in the acclimation phase, running no more than 45% on either channel. At 9" off the water (to get an 18" spread from each light pod) I get around 75,000 lux with both channels at 100%. 100,000+ lux is about mid-day sun in the tropics, so I should be set once I get to "full-on". :)

    I've also built another GU10 system, this time a single rail for my 38-gallon. (The "other" tank. ;) ) It was another hack-together build so nothing to take pictures of, but noteworthy in that it took me about 30 minutes to wire up sockets onto a four foot piece of 1"x2" stock I had in the garage, and even with the same old gu10 bulbs (455nm and cool white only) makes the tank look great. Total cost to purchase and build new: About $90 without even shopping too hard. (@ $5/bulb, $1/socket, $5 wood...another $10 if you have no wire or wire nuts; another $1 if you have no extension cord to sacrifice. So about $111 if you're starting literally from scratch.)

    Sadly, I had to take down my Ecoxotic Panorama fixture on this tank. Of the four original 12-watt, 12000K sticks, only two were left and they were starting to lose LED's and corals were showing worse for the wear. >$450...about 4 years' service, less for the first two failures. Not too happy about that, but I will say that when all four units were working, I got great looking corals and great growth under them. (They were 1" from the water, with all four over one half of the tank.) Very similar, if not equivalent results to the Radiums that used to be over the main tank. FWIW...they are gone now.

    I guess for full disclosure I've purchased around 50 of the GU10 bulbs, have had two fail, both from the first batch I purchased for $3.58/each on 1/2012.....no time yet for a post mortem as to why, but there was no evidence of burning or anything to the chassis...should be repairable if/when I need them again, but we'll see.

    -Matt
     
  10. KrautBurner

    KrautBurner Well-Known Member

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    I replaced my 2x250w Metal Halide setup (over my 90G) with 2 EVERGROW D120's EverGrow D120 16" LED Custom Tuned by BRA - Barrier Reef Aquariums
    they are dimmable (love the colors)

    I'm very happy with them so far.

    they aren't quite as bright as my MH's were, but the colors are much better, and I've read that they should be just as good for growth


    they are one of the cheaper Chinese companys, but they have a 3 year warranty (from the manufacturer)
    that is backed by the seller (which is local to me)
    - if they can't fix it in house, they will trade it out for a new one

    the warranty is the main reason I didn't do a DIY kit
    (also, more lights and cheaper than the diy kit i was looking at)
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  11. ReefLEDLights

    ReefLEDLights Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    I've evaluated a lot of these fixtures and they do grow coral some look better than others.

    Please post your experience months later.

    We are getting more and more requests for driver replacements.

    Cree LEDs are rated for 70% after 50,000 hours

    Quality Drivers are rated for 30-50,000 hours.

    BTW I like the avatar and the fact that the right to consume caffeine will not be infringed!!! Here in Chicago sever restrictions on the Second Amendment by our dear leaders have lead to only 506 victims last year...

    Bill
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
  12. Ron Reefman

    Ron Reefman Well-Known Member

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    Bill, how many months later would you like? I've had mine on 24/7 for just over 6 months now and everything is still working like new. Corals look happy and even the sps are growing like weeds (but then bigger colonies seem to do that).
     
  13. ReefLEDLights

    ReefLEDLights Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    As said the right ones do grow coral well as hitting the grow spectrum is not rocket science. I think you will be happy with the results as they are a better option than the cost of MH.

    24-36 Months or what you feel appropriate for other Reefers.

    Most of the requests we receive for drivers are around the 12-18 month mark.

    Sadly we cannot help with an easy replacement due to the circuit board design, different LEDs and layout.

    Thanks

    Bill
     
  14. mcarroll

    mcarroll Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    Thanks for the suggestions and thoughts guys, but I've already got a set of solutions now.

    -Matt
     
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