What's the cheapest lighting system for a reef tank?

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Bulk Reef Supply

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Today we are answering one of the most popular questions we get regarding lighting: what's the cheapest lighting system for a reef tank?



2' Lighting Options Under $300



Sunlight Supply 24" Sun Blaze T5 HO Lighting Fixture




Kessil A80 Tuna Blue Nano LED Light



AquaIllumination Prime HD Led Module



3' Lighting Options Under $550

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88dUEWYOsy0dzHnyTQiAQ7sZ3BQYJtadLUMvkYvs__rvp3r3xTzm0kZpnXW1-_UPZ0ozTwXdoG4dYTw3Y0gu_NPTv7qg6sjrd6oxAytYK7Aac55PjhPXG0BmY3riSqKyIlQzmeRBR52DTRv7UcoaKA757tIAbde2RmeB__ylL9ZZb32NFKnbcOf2v-kINUmJEKeBO1FWg6Oxtf118dOVBMLKMe1MMOolaHk=s0-d-e1-ft

(2) AquaIllumination Prime HD Led Module


ATI 36" SunPower High Output T5 Light Fixture



Maxspect RAZOR 180 Watt 15K LED



Zetlight ZT-6800A QMaven Series LED

SAVE 10% WITH CODE ZETLIGHT10 TODAY

4' Lighting Options Under $700


Sunlight Supply 48" T5 HO Lighting Fixture



Zetlight ZT-6800A QMaven Series LED
SAVE 10% WITH CODE ZETLIGHT10 TODAY

(2) AquaIllumination Hydra TwentySix HD LED
 
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Mandrew

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I just bought a sunblaze 24" 4 bulb from BRS. Very impressed with the build quality and the reflectors look ideal as well. I paid roughly $125 for the fixture plus $80 for ATI bulbs and so far I'm impressed. I'm just setting up my tank so I don't have any growth evidence yet but the light is bright and I'm sure it will do the trick!
 

DarkSky

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I just bought a sunblaze 24" 4 bulb from BRS. Very impressed with the build quality and the reflectors look ideal as well. I paid roughly $125 for the fixture plus $80 for ATI bulbs and so far I'm impressed. I'm just setting up my tank so I don't have any growth evidence yet but the light is bright and I'm sure it will do the trick!

Borrow a PAR meter and dial that fixture in!
 

MaiReef

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One 46" Aquatic Life XS-UV is under $400 for a 48" tank. They look good, are programmable and are cheaper.
 
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Bulk Reef Supply

Bulk Reef Supply

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Great video as always, but I'd imagine the cheapest you could do would be natural sunlight from a window or skylight. :)

Touche, lol - good point! I guess the topic was more "affordable" vs "cheapest" and generally focusing on products that we recommend for success... :)
 

taikss

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I'm a bit surprised you're only discussing the ones that are "branded" in the classical meaning of that word. IMO as with all of the tech stuff u get a lot more variations and options than just buying a razor witha native app.
my pick was somewhat simpler and a lot cheaper:
1) first of all i checked the random internet tops by random sites
2) they mostly bubble about the same 10-20 providers
3) kept on digging the common denominators out of these reviews
4) most of them suggested that chinese LEDs "viparspectra" (http://www.viparspectra.com/goods.php?id=62) have good to great quality for growing corals, but no control apps or options to daisy chain

After that i started thinking how it would be possible to automate that thing with the stuff i have at home on hand. That was pretty straight forward too, have a smart home box called "Fibaro home center" with various additions to it. Long story short you can buy a control box for opening doors, shutting down lights and programming whatever u want on it through z-wave electronic technology.

So now i'm planning to add the RGB controllers to these chinese LED's and daisy chain them this way together. Since my tank is 245g, i'll prolly need 3 of these LED's, currently have just 2.

Once i get that thing set up and tested, will use the similar approach as some of the reefers who mimic the natural course of the sun over their tanks, i.e. turn on the right hand side LED at 20% in the morning, dim them up, slowly, move on to the second LED and finish off the night by dimming them down and shutting off the right ones. Also simple to add moonlight cycles this way.

To my surprise some of the lads have already used fibaro and random LED's for solving these probs and my guess is that it will work very well.

Just to point out - chinese LED's are 160W each and cover 24x24x24", cost 130$ on ebay. The RGB controller costs something like 60$ and you need anything from 1 to 3 of them.

So the thesis is that if the LED's themselves are okay as various bloggers and reviewers state, the control system could be times more flexible and efficient in comparison with 3x more expensive razors.

I mean i've got plenty of time to test that all out, just got the vipar led's 2 weeks ago and i still run only soft coral tank (as my water is still not in tact), but the bottom line stays the same - some chinese cheap magic spiced up with a minimum of DIY and the end result could be much better and cheaper.
 

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