*Reef Breeders Photon v2 and T5 installation, testing, and review*

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jason2459

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Just to start out here I am NOT a lighting expert or guru. Since starting my tank in 2009 I've changed my lighting 3 times (4 kind of but will get to that). Started with T5's. Then reefbrite strips, and then Ocean Revive S026 fixtures, (brief stint with SB Reef light sbars and T5), and to what I believe will be a long run with Reef Breeder Photon v2 and T5s.

https://www.reefbreeders.com/new-photon-v2/

I just got them installed and extremely happy with my decission to go with them so far. So much that I'm starting this thread. Usually, I save that for only equipment tests I'm doing I feel really strong about or think may be interesting to others. Like my MTC MVX skimmer thread, Buckeye Hydro The Gapper review, Microscope work, test kit testing and reviews, etc.

Quick warning, I'll be copy and pasting from past posts in other threads to get them all organized into one here. So if some things seem past tense because I didn't edit it right it's because it is or was or will be...

Previous lighting Background and deficiencies:

Started with T5s and loved the coverage and colors. Hated changing out the bulbs. Then I found reefbrite strips to try and replace the T5 bulbs.

I loved the coverage of the reefbrites but missed some colors. Then some leds started going out. Found some cheap led fixtures (Ocean Revive S026) to try out that had a blend of colors.

The coverage wasn't the best with the 3 S026 16" fixtures. The colors were pin points so didn't blend well. So, I added a couple T5s. Love the colors of the T5 with the LEDs. But I was up to 100% power on both channels on the Ocean Revive's and been running them for 2 years. A couple violets also went out which may have been more of an issue that plagued Chinese cheep leds back when I bought them. Who knows how long the rest of the fixture will last. They were super cheap though and got them for like $120 each. So, they were worth the cost and let me experience a different kind of setup and let me know what I might or might not want. The T5's helped quite a bit for the blending of the colors and boost the PAR while I had no more punch in the Ocean Revive Fixtures at 100% each.

I was looking for different options and planned on upgrading beginning of next year. The Kessil leds were front runners. I also wanted to keep the dual T5s as I still love their color blend. I ended up finding a new led bar like the reefbrites but supposedly more powerful and a couple different wavelengths of blue that the all blue reefbrites didn't have. And a lot cheaper and comes with power supplies.

Only problem is the actual power draw from the strips were far from what I was expecting and listed. I measured via a Killawatt each bar was pulling between 50-60 watts and my Seneye measured the PAR at 76 on the sandbed... Needless to say everything was reaching for the sky and not looking good. Everything is looking very pale now as well as the reaching for those things that can reach. Cyano and dinos are taking advantage of the situation it seems.

The 60" sbar was listed as being 135W so over half the power that I was hoping for. SB Reeflights is working on fixing the issue but it's been over a month now and my corals can't wait.


Moving on with a new Plan.

I always found it funny when someone uses Sanjay's most beautiful reef tank as an example that LEDs can grow corals no issue. I find it funny because he has an ungodly amount of LEDs that cost an even more godly amount of money above that tank. Works very well.

So, I decided I also wanted to go with a shotgun solution and just plaster LED's over my tank. But to do so as affordably as possible. To do this I ended up deciding on going with the ReefBreeder Photon v2. The fixture seems to get good reviews and customer support seems good as well overall from what I've read over the past few years and have followed several Photon v2 specific threads.

I got 4 32" Photon V2 fixtures. I like that the fixtures support the ability to use legs for tank top mounting and come with the fixtures. I have a plan to be able to use them to mount up into the canopy and attach two together to make 2 pairs.

I'm sure two alone will be just fine but I'm going for FULL 100% no doubt about it coverage and just be done with it. The price of these make that possible for me. There are some slightly cheaper options but then sacrifice in other areas (like reds and greens on the same channel as the whites). These seem like the Aquamaxx skimmer of the lighting world. Not the cheapest and far from the most expensive but very good bang for the buck. At just under $2k to get the coverage I wanted I priced out other name brand fixtures and they start at $3k and go way up from there and may or may not even include mounting hardware. That's freaking nuts. At those prices they should have absolutely every mounting option available. LEDs have been out a long time now and prices need to reflect that.

I'm looking to keep my dual T5s down the middle of the tank. Then put a pair on each side and tilted inward slightly. Maybe. Will start out like that and see if I like it. I'll flip the directions between the pairs. Which if I'm looking at the layouts right will help the two rows complement each other better. Having the two rows will also put up a LOT (288) of leds up into the canopy which will hopefully give a lot of coverage. Also, if what I'm thinking of doing with the legs I should be able to mount them up higher in the canopy which was another issue I had with the ocean revive fixtures.

I really did not like the red and green leds in the 16" Ocean Revive fixtures I had and made for an annoying shimmer. These Photon v2's have 6 channels to be able to control and the reds and greens are on their own channels which is perfect as I can play with their intensities individually from the rest of the leds to maybe even having them turned off. If that happens I'll look into just swapping those leds out all together for a different color temp. I also plan to remove their lens to help their spread to reduce spot lighting. I also shouldn't need to get anywhere near 100% which I was with the ocean revive fixtures. 100% both channels left no where to go and wearing out those leds.

I do like the ratio of blue to whites which is just over 2 to 1. With the coral plus bulbs I'm hoping for a nice crisp 14k look. I also notice with the 16/32 length fixtures the leds are more tightly packed compared to the 24/48 lengths. May be a good thing for blending in better.

Then I'll have to play around with timing and for the first time ramping. That's actually not something I'm looking forward to. I like just old fashioned on and off. No guess work. But after this maybe I'll be hooked into the scheduling ramping thing.
 
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The unboxing and setup for installation

Getting them ready for mounting in the canopy. I'm pretty impressed with their quality.

Probably get to mounting them tomorrow

One of the boxes had some damage


But the inner boxes seemed to be well padded so hopefully nothing wrong and will find out tomorrow. [emoji4]






And noticed this nick on the fixture inside



Cut the legs to be used to tie the two fixtures together like one unit. Did this to both pairs







There will be support in the middle once in the canopy.



Spacing will vary as I'll adjust to straddle the gaps between clusters over the two cross braces my 180 has. But if spaced so led clusters are evenly spaced the two fixtures make a single 63-64" fixture

 
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Mounting in the Canopy with the T5's:

Got a late start and finished this up around 3am. Family time first...

Getting things lined up and marked where some pilot holes need to go



Nice stainless steel eyelets and stainless steel snap rings. Notice the size difference and will tilt the fixtures inward



Getting them in the canopy and back on the tank...sucker was heavy! Should have been a team lift. lol



T5s back in and ready to go. If I want less angle I'll break out some zip ties


Excited to fire them up tomorrow...just hope they all light up. Then will get some par measurements. I'll probably start at 15% max each fixture and see where that's at and go from there.

Now to figure out the remote and programming.
 
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Getting the LEDs fired up and initial acclimation programming:

All the LEDs are working and playing with the color combination. The coverage is amazing. Two rows of fixtures + T5 and there is most definitely full coverage and absolutely 0 shadowing from my braces. Its awesome. I have them going up to 15% to start for the max peak for the day to start. I'll try to get par and pur measurements later.

I decided not to pull the lenses on the red and greens. With the 100 degree lens and two rows the alternating red green and the flip green red on the other side works out very well and spreads nicely. I have no disco effect or spot lighting at all even with just reds or just greens on. Again, it's awesome.

This wasn't cheap (but not nearly as much as "higher end" fixtures) and getting so many LEDs was not about brightness but about spread and full coverage on top, sides, and under the corals. I think I've succeeded.

The remote and programming seems easy for someone absolutely new to programing LEDs. I really like going through the custom programming that it actually tells the lights to do whats on that hour so no guessing what it looks like until after saving.

 
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Now for the continuous testing, adjustments, and playing:

I did get a quick par reading last night. I have a MQ-510 Apogee par meter on hand that I used and will get more readings and comparisons vs. the Seneye reef monitor.

Right in the middle of the tank on the sand (~3" of sand there) Par was about 160. That's pretty awesome as I have a LOT more power to move that up very very easily. I'm glad the Photon v2 can go up in 1% jumps and not 10% jumps I've seen some Chinese LEDs do.

Right now, if my memory serves me right, at peak my settings are

Red Channel 1: 2
Green Channel 2: 2
Royal Blue Channel 3: 18
White Channel 4: 10
Cool Blue Channel 5: 18
Violet Channel 6: 18

That is not going to be my final ratio as I'm still playing around with the colors. That's just to give what was producing that Par above. Plus there's the two 80 watt T5's down the middle which are right now ATI Coral Plus bulbs. I'm liking the angle of the LEDs so far but will see more about that as I test out different channels individually and par measurements and will really see how the angles effect things.

I'm thinking I might be able to play around with Blue Plus and True Actinic's now. The White's on the Photon seem more Yellowish or warm white to me. Which with the Red's and Green's actually not spot lighting anymore I could turn those up for those colors that the Coral Plus bulbs provides.

I'm very happy I have some options now to play around with, power to drive the brightness (Par/Pur), and some amazing spread. Which I certainly hope so as I decided to shotgun it and put up 288 LED's and two strips of T5's down the middle.

Which I really feel that putting the T5's down the middle is better then supplementing them on the outsides. You don't put Baby in the corner... lol
This really softens and blends everything together nicely with still a hint of shimmer from the LEDs. LEDs seem to be so focused on a certain wavelength while the T5 blends smoother from one wavelength to another in a single bulb stretching the entire tank. Very different looks in lighting but when put together really creates a perfect blend. IMO.
 
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Good information jason, thanks!
What kind of corals are you planning to keep under it? Sps?

I'm a mixed reef person and just got into bubble tip anemones beginning of last year and are my primary focus now. I started with a single red and have lost count now. I had a major tank disaster (mold/mildew remover) killing off all my corals and any other invert not burred in the sand and rock and many fish back in 2015. I like movement so not SPS heavy at all but have had some. The one branching SPS I have now is very pale along with my LPS and anemones.

Here's a video a couple days after installing the sb reef lights. Bubble tips were the first to react negatively to the lights but didn't look terrible here and just figured they were acclimating to the new lights. But they are already starting to reach up in this video.


here's how full my Anemones used to always look
2016-11-21_11-08-02 by Jason, on Flickr

2016-11-21_11-08-51 by Jason, on Flickr

2016-11-21_11-18-39 by Jason, on Flickr

I'd rather not focus to much on the negative and previous lighting so will leave it at that. I'm highly disappointed to put it mildly.
 
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and I do want to point out SB Reeflights is aware of the issue with the sbar and looking at getting a fix along with ramping. My corals and anemones just could not wait any longer as it had already been over a month. Greens were white, reds were pink to white, yellow leather was folded up, anemones were pale and stringy pulling up as high as they could and more babies were splitting out. Really the only coral that seemed fine was a purple haze monti and cyano on the sand was loving it. And I did tell him everything was reaching last month. Once they are fixed they are nice a bar as long as the design doesn't change. I really liked how they mounted. For now they are sitting in the corner of my sump room.
 
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Jason, did you install SB reef lights or reefbreeder lights? I am getting confused.

Sorry about that, Reef Breeder Photon V2 which just replaced some SB ReefLights and I've been asked a few times (pm and another site) about the SB Reeflights so I wanted to give some clarification on them.
 
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Sorry about that, Reef Breeder Photon V2 which just replaced some SB ReefLights and I've been asked a few times (pm and another site) about the SB Reeflights so I wanted to give some clarification on them.
Gotcha.
 
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So far I'm really impressed with the Photon v2. From their physical appearance, their spread, control is very easy, and visual lighting look in the tank along with a quick par reading the other day that was impressive. Definitely a big bang for the buck light fixture. I really wish they weren't hidden in a canopy I think they look that nice.

I was going to get a lot more par measurements last night along with a side by side comparision between readings from an Apogee MQ-510 and a Seneye Reef Monitor v2 upgrade but got side tracked setting up a new (used) 2016 Apex. That was fun converting from classic over... not.

Anyway. I plan on doing a lot more par readings tonight and in the future. The Seneye v2 also includes a PUR and LUX reading along with the PAR. Bulkreef supply has said that the Seneye was better at reading LEDs then the older 200 series Apogee but not as good as the new 500 series. But I'm wondering if the new v2 firmware revision that just came out with the Seneye may have improved that PAR so will see.
 

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So far I'm really impressed with the Photon v2. From their physical appearance, their spread, control is very easy, and visual lighting look in the tank along with a quick par reading the other day that was impressive. Definitely a big bang for the buck light fixture. I really wish they weren't hidden in a canopy I think they look that nice.

I was going to get a lot more par measurements last night along with a side by side comparision between readings from an Apogee MQ-510 and a Seneye Reef Monitor v2 upgrade but got side tracked setting up a new (used) 2016 Apex. That was fun converting from classic over... not.

Anyway. I plan on doing a lot more par readings tonight and in the future. The Seneye v2 also includes a PUR and LUX reading along with the PAR. Bulkreef supply has said that the Seneye was better at reading LEDs then the older 200 series Apogee but not as good as the new 500 series. But I'm wondering if the new v2 firmware revision that just came out with the Seneye may have improved that PAR so will see.
I do like the Photon V2 very much! Your T5 supplement should do just nicely.
 
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Wow..... impressive. Have to get the data organized but yeah, wow. This may deserve it's own thread.
 

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Wow..... impressive. Have to get the data organized but yeah, wow. This may deserve it's own thread.
Sorry. I don't have much input on pur, par or lux. I only use lux. The lenses on the photon v2 do give a nice disco effect. Therefore I think your T5 should offset that. Not really sure what other input you would like? I'm only following your success with this setup. As far as intensity goes, I think LEDs are greatly underrated. Typically your par requirements should be cut in half with initial install. I recently added a couple UV diodes to my unit and experience a little bleaching session. I'm going through a new acclimation period to fix my mistake.
 
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I was speaking in terms of Seneye par vs Apogee Mq-510 par readings. I just got several done.

But will all the LEDs I have up and at least with the reduced intensity I see 0 disco effect even with the T5s off. The layout is 180 from each other down each row which seems to complement each other nicely. There's still shimmer but not annoying which I had with the ocean revive 3 fixtures.
 

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I was speaking in terms of Seneye par vs Apogee Mq-510 par readings. I just got several done.

But will all the LEDs I have up and at least with the reduced intensity I see 0 disco effect even with the T5s off. The layout is 180 from each other down each row which seems to complement each other nicely. There's still shimmer but not annoying which I had with the ocean revive 3 fixtures.
It is possible your two V2's compliment each other to the point of zero disco. Though, I've seen several videos on one unit with what looked like John Travolta doing a Boggie Nights dance! I've been follow some threads on chinese black boxes. Most users are now doing 250-300 par at the surface. With my lux to par conversion I was running roughly 750 par at surface which resulted in a big no no. I've slowly been reducing intensity to at a current 450 par. Not really sure whats with these LEDs? My guess in the lens penetration?
 
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It is possible your two V2's compliment each other to the point of zero disco. Though, I've seen several videos on one unit with what looked like John Travolta doing a Boggie Nights dance! I've been follow some threads on chinese black boxes. Most users are now doing 250-300 par at the surface. With my lux to par conversion I was running roughly 750 par at surface which resulted in a big no no. I've slowly been reducing intensity to at a current 450 par. Not really sure whats with these LEDs? My guess in the lens penetration?
That's some great input. I just found par pretty even through out. Which was interesting.
 
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And like I said in the first post. I'm far from a lighting expert and have no idea what the best lighting is or what is best for corals color, intensity, par, pur, etc wise. I can just get numbers and report what my eyes see which can be totally different from what someone else sees which makes numbers more reliable :)
 

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