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 LEDâ€™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. Donâ€™t be surprised if they donâ€™t appear very bright, though. Many LED fixtures donâ€™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 LEDâ€™s to that MH in my last blog. To my eyes, the MH looked much brighter than either LED, but numbers donâ€™t lie. The human eye is just not a good judge of brightness. I donâ€™t know if that has something to do with the fact that most LEDâ€™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 donâ€™t wish to have to repurchase something later.