We finally tested the Black Box LED... Compare notes? | BRStv Investigates

There were so many requests to test the Black Box LED that Ryan finally had to bring one in and test it. We can't wait to see where this thread...
  1. randyBRS

    randyBRS BRStv Host :-) R2R Supporter Gold Sponsor

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    We're at it again!

    There were so many requests to test the Black Box LED that Ryan finally had to bring one in and test it. :) We can't wait to see where this thread goes, so by all means share your thoughts and opinions and experiences with these lights!

     
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  2. justingraham

    justingraham Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member Partner Member 2018

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    What u guys are so one way. U only give away the expensive led lights? Thanks I was really hopeing to score this black box.
     
  3. Humblefish

    Humblefish Dr. Fish Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor Louisiana Reef Club Partner Member 2018

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    No actual experience with these lights (I'm still stuck on T5 & MH); but I know enough people who do use Black Box LEDs to successfully grow softies, LPS, SPS that I wouldn't hesitate to buy one.
     
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  4. Crabs Mcjones

    Crabs Mcjones The Gif-A-Nator R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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  5. revhtree

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

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    Ryan talks about how these lights will grow corals but he also addresses some concerns with them as well.
     
  6. Dana Riddle

    Dana Riddle Well-Known Member Staff Member R2R Supporter Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Expert Contributor

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  7. redfishbluefish

    redfishbluefish Stay Positive, Stay Productive R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member

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    A black box, is not a black box, is not a black box.

    I believe your par numbers are spot on and most likely similar from one brand of black box to the next. Accordingly, the first thing I did with my black boxes were to pull off the lenses to assist in scattering the light and minimize spot lighting. I also have them mounted in a canopy with the face of the unit 13 inches off the water.

    IMG_1401_zpsgvjtf8mu.jpg


    However, I believe you're off as far as heat sinks and power supplies. That is, not all black boxes are built the same. I have five black boxes...four different brands, and all but one have exceptional finned aluminum heat sinks. The one older black box does have that simple aluminum sheet that can't be the best with drawing away the heat. All of my black boxes have sealed power supplies....by sealed, I mean contained within a plastic rectangular box....not that open circuit board shown in your video.

    Repair History:

    The two black boxes I have that are the same brand had to have all the blue LEDs replaced at about 3 1/2 to 4 years old....the original LEDs blackened and melted. I believe the reasoning was that insufficient thermal paste was used between the backing plate and the finned aluminum.

    With the oldest unit....when LED's first came out....one Triac had to be replaced.

    Fans....of the 12 fans in all five units, I think I've replaced half of them.

    Bottom line, I'm happy with my black boxes....grow everything like weeds, and left me with a chunk of change in my wallet. :D

    And finally, thanks for doing these reviews. This one verified by reasons for pulling off the lenses. Keep these things coming.
     
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  8. WW2

    WW2 Member

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    If I did go with the BB the very first thing I would do it toss those super cheap clips used to attach to the wires. At $100 each and being able to buy 8 of them to get to the same cost as the ones tested it seems you could clear up any hot spots or par issues. Seems like a viable solution as long as you are not expecting to be wowed with options.
     
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  9. Peter K

    Peter K Active Member

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    A few years ago, I went through the debate of black boxes vs. higher end LED's. Been with Kessil's for 5 years now and am extremely happy I did. That being said I know friends able to maintain successful tanks with these lights as well.

    redfishbluefish - The power supplies in the BRS black box was sealed in a plastic box they just removed the cover, you can see the covers on the supplies at different points in the video as well. (20:12 in the video)
     
  10. happyhourhero

    happyhourhero Valuable Member Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    I have been using mine since July 2015 and have so far not had any issues. I do not believe that they all use the same spectrum or the same heat sinks or drivers. There seems to be 3 groups of black box quality out there with the ones you reviewed in the bottom tier.
    I started out with a middle tier box and got good growth and then switched the light board out to what I believe to be a top tier spectrum. the difference was immediate to both my eyes and my corals response. I ultimately purchased 2 more of the top tier lights and run 2 of the 16" over my 65 gallon.

    Here is my tank before I had to break it up to move. 100% grown from frags and by black box only.
    [​IMG]

    Here she is now. Been growing since March and is getting there.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I personally see no reason to be on a quest to find alternative lights and am happy to have found lighting that is affordable and what I believe to be effective. The lights are also covered by a 2 year USA warranty so if I ever have any issues (which are not unheard of) I am confident I will be able to easily repair or replace.

    Thank you for taking the time to do your review of black boxes! You guys really do great work for the hobby.
     
  11. spiraling

    spiraling Well-Known Member Build Thread Contributor

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    Thanks for bringing up the safety concerns on the power supply!
    I have a BB that grows great coral (and has the hot spot - just place things accordingly) but now that I see they aren't UL listed (never even thought to check!) I would have serious concerns getting another.
     
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  12. reefs+waves

    reefs+waves Active Member

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    The lens on the black boxes are secondary lens and they are 60 degree lenses, if you take them off I believe the primary lens on the leds are either 90 or 120 degree lenses on them and that will reduce the par hotspots significantly.
     
  13. foxt

    foxt Well-Known Member Partner Member 2018

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    If the power supply is the major issue, why not find a way to replace it with something more reliable? I don't own a black box, so I can't take it apart to look, but if a suitable replacement could be found, it might address the safety concern while still providing the cost advantage over pricier lights ....
     
  14. Patrick.S

    Patrick.S Member

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    Would be curious where something like a SBReef light falls into this equation. Build quality and power supplies and whatnot.
     
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  15. Velcro

    Velcro Valuable Member

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    Couple things:

    1) You talk about efficiency, but did you actually measure the wattage draw from the wall? These "165w" fixtures usually only pull 120-130 watts, so I don't think that's fair compared to the 190w from the radion.

    2) These lights thrive at 20-24" above waterline. Some of them are designed better for limiting the blinding aspect. Mine are 20" above the tank and the way they are designed is NOT blinding even when sitting in front of the tank and the light spill isn't any worse than when I was running T5 about 8" above the tank.

    The idea is as you said, over buy them and blanket the tank with them mnounted high. Also ideally get one for the "nicer" ones that actually uses properly binned cree diodes... that will fix the spectrum issues.

    "black box" is a broad term. I would never consider a mars aqua, but the sbreef lights and reefbreeders are legit. The reefbreeders that I have use UL listed remote power supplies.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  16. knowen87

    knowen87 Member

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    I have not thought about the UL safety thing either. I am glad you brought that up. The spread of the lights was really bad too. By they time you turn it down so the lazer doesn't kill the corals the outskirts are very dim. If you want to save some money you can pick up used LED lights from reliable manufacturers for relatively cheap.
     
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  17. Velcro

    Velcro Valuable Member

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    Nah, reefbreeders photon v2. Fixes all the problems mentioned in the video.
     
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  18. Crabs Mcjones

    Crabs Mcjones The Gif-A-Nator R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor Partner Member 2018

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    I don't think they're including the ReefBreeders or SB Reef lights in this video, Ryan does say that he cannot name the name but were all pretty sure its the Mars Aqua. As soon as they took apart the one in the video it looked exactly like what the inside of my Mars Aqua 300 looked like. ReefBreeders and SB Reef Lights while they look like black boxes, I would not personally consider them black boxes, they are definitely alot better and higher quality.
     
  19. Jimmy Lee

    Jimmy Lee Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    So happy this is FINALLY happening
     
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  20. Velcro

    Velcro Valuable Member

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    I think it just needs to be more clear that not all black boxes are created equal.
     
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