Selecting a LED Fixture - By Steven Pro

Discussion in 'Aquarium Lighting By Dana Riddle' started by revhtree, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. revhtree

    revhtree Owner Administrator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Photo of the Month Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    Selecting a LED Fixture

    In a previous blog entry, I showed some limited testing I performed on some LED fixtures and one metal halide fixture of the same approximate size and wattage. Having demonstrated that LED’s can produce good intensity lighting, I now want to give a few tips on selecting a quality LED fixture.

    My first piece of advice is, buy a brand that you have seen in operation in person. Reading about them online and seeing pictures and video clips is ok, but nothing beats seeing something work right in front of your eyes. Don’t be surprised if they don’t appear very bright, though. Many LED fixtures don’t look very bright, particularly in comparison to a MH, but your eyes lie to you. The same thing happened to me when I compared the LED’s to that MH in my last blog. To my eyes, the MH looked much brighter than either LED, but numbers don’t lie. The human eye is just not a good judge of brightness. I don’t know if that has something to do with the fact that most LED’s are blue heavy in color or some other factor. That is why having and checking the performance with a PAR meter would be a good idea.

    The next factor, and one of the biggest in evaluating an LED fixture is heat management. Does the unit in question have a large heat sink? The heat sink is one of the easiest ways to check if a LED fixture is a good one. It is generally easy to locate and compare in size to other brands. It is also the fist thing an inexpensive brand is going to cutback on. If the heat sink is small or nonexistent, I would walk away and look at another option.

    Is it relying on passive cooling or does it also incorporate fans? All things equal, I would like to see fans on a LED fixture I would buy. There are some that can manage heat solely through large heat sinks, but I feel more comfortable with fans aiding. Also, are those fans placed in such a way that they are easy to service? In my experience, dirt, dust, and in some cases salt spray will build up on and near fans used around aquarium. This requires regular maintenance. In general, if something cannot easily be serviced, it usually gets skipped. Making sure the fans are operating and free from obstruction is critically important in any light fixture, but even more so with LED.

    The last bit of information to gather prior to buying is to examine the warranty policy. How long does it last? What does it cover? And worst case scenario if something happens, where does the service occur, whose responsibility is it to get the unit to the service center, and what is the typical turnaround time for repairs? I have heard of some brands requiring the broken units be sent back to China at the cost of the purchaser. I would avoid those brands if I were you.

    I hope I have given you some useful pointers in evaluating a LED prior to purchase. LED seems to be clearly heading as the future lighting of our hobby, but there is a wide range in quality of the units I have seen so far. Early adopters to new technology take the greatest risk and must be extra careful in their acquisitions if they don’t wish to have to repurchase something later.

     
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  2. irish02bk

    irish02bk Well-Known Member

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    nice writeup
     
  3. turfster26

    turfster26 Well-Known Member

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    This is going to make a GREAT sticky......great work!
     
  4. creefer

    creefer Well-Known Member

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    "My first piece of advice is, buy a brand that you have seen in operation in person. Reading about them online and seeing pictures and video clips is ok, but nothing beats seeing something work right in front of your eyes. Don’t be surprised if they don’t appear very bright, though. Many LED fixtures don’t look very bright, particularly in comparison to a MH, but your eyes lie to you. The same thing happened to me when I compared the LED’s to that MH in my last blog. To my eyes, the MH looked much brighter than either LED, but numbers don’t lie. The human eye is just not a good judge of brightness. I don’t know if that has something to do with the fact that most LED’s are blue heavy in color or some other factor. That is why having and checking the performance with a PAR meter would be a good idea."

    Great advise. I wish I would have done that before I bought my fixture about this time last year.
     
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  5. Jeppeterpan

    Jeppeterpan Well-Known Member

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    Good advice

    Great advice. I ended up with 2 kessils for 72 gallon bow front. Contrary to what I thought, 2 was enough for lps and sps coral. I also have 2 rbta that are loving them. Have seen amazing growth from all. Got them about 4 inches off the water. I do have sps up top like all tanks. Lps on bottom.
     
  6. UNCFAN

    UNCFAN Well-Known Member

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    Great information and I love my LEDS and so do my corals!
     
  7. chappy

    chappy Well-Known Member

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    any suggestions for a fixture to do a 210
    looking to spend less than 1500
    wondering if i am kidding myself
     
  8. UNCFAN

    UNCFAN Well-Known Member

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    I can only tell you what I have over my 125 and that is 3 of the Ecoxotic 24 inch Panorama fixtures. Three of those would bust your 1500 limit tho but my corals and clams seem to be doing fine. I've had those fixtures for almost a year now. Ecoxotics customer service and tech support are great.
     
  9. Steven Pro

    Steven Pro Well-Known Member

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    Are you looking to replace some existing lighting or is this a brand new tank?
     
  10. chappy

    chappy Well-Known Member

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    its been up for 3 years all lps
     
  11. Steven Pro

    Steven Pro Well-Known Member

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    What are you lighting it with now?
     
  12. iGabby

    iGabby New Member

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    Hi I'm new to this forum but I've had my 60-gal reef in continuous use x 15 years, so it's been through many lighting changes. Currently one 250W MH, two T5 bulbs and a couple of moonlights. Contents mostly LPS, soft corals, and inverts.
    Because the tank is in my TV room the noisy fans drive me CRAZY and I'm hoping to switch to LED lighting for this reason. (I have a chiller on it, but the MH still needed canopy fans, and yes, they are the supposedly quiet ones......not.)
    LED systems seem to be changing faster than I can keep track. What's the current best advice for a reliable system that will run QUIET and give my corals the right spectrum? I'm old fashioned, don't want open-top look, must be able to house it in a wooden canopy. Would prefer to stay under $1000 but that's not the critical factor. Grateful for any suggestions.
     
  13. Steven Pro

    Steven Pro Well-Known Member

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    iGabby, of the brands that are out right now, I would have to say my favorite is Aqua Illuminations. They are well built, quality units, although certainly not inexpensive. They are also modular and permit upgrades as technology improves, which is a very nice feature.

    That said, many LED units have fans as well and all fans require maintenance to operate best. Dust (and even worse salt) get on them, causing damage, noise, and eventual failure. You need to clean them off and use compressed air every so often to keep them running right.
     
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  14. numsie

    numsie Well-Known Member

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    I'd love to hear if anyone has looked into the new Maxspect Razor R420R 160watt 16000K LED Light Fixture thats coming out in the next 2 weeks. I did a pre order after doing lots of reading. Price is good, specs look good but i am no expert. I will be using it on a 45 gal tank with anchor coral and soft corals, I plan on adding more once I get the fixture. The tank is 23" deep, coral vue says the 27" fixture would be perfect. The only concern is its new, the only reviews are from sellers and i've only seen video's. My budget was keeping an LED under $500.00 and good one's are hard to find for that price, any thoughts?
     
  15. iheartsps

    iheartsps Well-Known Member

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    I have a 90 gallon mixed reef. in seven year I have had every kind of light except MH. I loved the look of LED so I purchased two cheaper units from China the first time. Everything seemed well at first but then noticed some bleaching. So I added Two VHO bulbs with the LED units and all color came back. I then thought maybe it was the cheap knock off not providing the right spectrum so I dropped $900 on two new Kessil A360W units about 6 months ago. I again tried lighting my tank off of these alone and again noticed some bleaching. the bleaching occurred most heavily on the undersides of my Acros and in some LPS like frogspawn. I also had pulsing xenia which went south (not that the xenia concerned me as it was becoming a nuisance and I wanted it gone anyway. So I again added Two Vho bulbs back as well as the Kessils and all is good again. I feel that Led is missing something or it is human error on my part that I just havent picked up on yet.
     
  16. Harryscarry

    Harryscarry Member

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    Has anyone dealt with the ecoxotic cannon LED lights? It seems to me that they would be too much of a spot light.
     
  17. chicagobears2010

    chicagobears2010 Well-Known Member

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    Were they turned up too ,much..
    ?
     
  18. BLUELIGHTING

    BLUELIGHTING Member

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    AQUAILLUMINATION HYDRA LED LIGHTS VS. CURRENT USA ORBIT MARINE AQUARIUM LED LIGHT 48 TO 60 INCH wich one is better for my 48x15x24 coral and fish aquarium
     
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  19. NanaReefer

    NanaReefer Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Please help! I'm looking to buy my first LED unit. It is for my 40b and the budget is $350. How can I tell without seeing the light in action what the coverage will actually be? I live where the only LED's being used are MarineLand.
     
  20. GHill762

    GHill762 Well-Known Member

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    consider reefbreeders photon 24, here is mine over my 40b. this is with 90* optics, and it lights the entire tank very well (see below for a better pic of coverage). I've gotten great color and growth from it IMO.
    [​IMG]
    Untitled by GHill762, on Flickr
    [​IMG]
    Untitled by GHill762, on Flickr

    this last photo (a terrrible photo) is to show coverage and that it's not dim around the edges like the above photos suggest, that is just from the way my phone takes photos, it's adjusting to the brightest part of the tank..
    [​IMG]
    Untitled by GHill762, on Flickr
     
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