LED Lights for Reef?

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zeeter

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Original poster
Jan 24, 2010
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I've been away from reefing for about 4 years. Last research I did showed that there were quite a few companies claiming their lighting was reef capable, but the reality was they were nowhere near unless I wanted to spend $2000.

How are things looking now? I've looked around and seen the prices have come down, but I don't know about the quality.
 

dougall

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Mar 29, 2005
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You'll probably find few people with a reef who are not using LEDs,
 

zeeter

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Original poster
Jan 24, 2010
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You'll probably find few people with a reef who are not using LEDs,
That much of a shift in four years? What are some of the better models?

And btw I'm talking about LEDs as the primary source of light and coral growth .
 

dougall

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Mar 29, 2005
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If you didn't see them 4 years ago, you should maybe have looked for more sources of information, to be honest.

And I am talking about LEDs as the sole source of illumination over a reef aquarium.

4 years ago, build my LED were pretty popular, for both reef and freshwater aquaria. And they were around before that. I think you can see their CEO talking at MACNA that year online (I think BRS made it available) he gave a similar but FW centric talk at the AGA convention the following year.

Most all manufacturers make some sort of LED fixture if they have any sort of light offering. Some people will swear by T5s, but they are likely the ones who care more about CRI and such over price and affordability. For the overall growing power, LEDs are just fine.
 

zeeter

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Jan 24, 2010
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That's a different situation than what I saw in the spring of 2014. There were a lot of makers who claimed reef-capable but they weren't. Or were good for some of the lower-light requirements for some corals. People were building them from scratch and having success and some companies offered very capable LEDs but at expensive prices. But there weren't really any affordable LEDs available that were capable of anything more than a small tank.
 

dougall

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Mar 29, 2005
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I guess it depends on perspective, and what you would define as affordable.

they are cheaper and more mainstream now, but were certainly affordable 4 years ago.

you could certainly pick up a 'chinese black box' fixture for ~$100 or so, and use 3 of them across a 3 foot tank without too much issue

no, they were not common with the large players in the industry (say aqueon, fluval or whoever) but BML certainly were making fixtures that were more than capable 5+ years ago, pretty sure Ecotech were, Kessil, etc.

it certainly wasn't all under-powered DIY LED fixtures.

you can take a quick read through https://reefs.com/2016/01/05/leds-500-gallon-reef/, it's an account from Sanjay Joshi of his 2 year experience on using LED lighting over a 500G aquarium from 3 years ago. You can take from his findings what you will.
 

zeeter

AC Members
Original poster
Jan 24, 2010
126
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I guess it depends on perspective, and what you would define as affordable.

they are cheaper and more mainstream now, but were certainly affordable 4 years ago.

you could certainly pick up a 'chinese black box' fixture for ~$100 or so, and use 3 of them across a 3 foot tank without too much issue

no, they were not common with the large players in the industry (say aqueon, fluval or whoever) but BML certainly were making fixtures that were more than capable 5+ years ago, pretty sure Ecotech were, Kessil, etc.

it certainly wasn't all under-powered DIY LED fixtures.

you can take a quick read through https://reefs.com/2016/01/05/leds-500-gallon-reef/, it's an account from Sanjay Joshi of his 2 year experience on using LED lighting over a 500G aquarium from 3 years ago. You can take from his findings what you will.
Maybe that's the key. The affordable ones that claimed reef capable were not really reef capable. One had to put out the money for the fixtures that really were.

My 6-bulb ATI fixture was around $400 and I didn't want to pay any more than that. It was ok with electric but the bulbs got fairly expensive - I wasn't one to skimp on the bulbs. So that was another close to $200 every six months.

My understanding about LED (clearly I'm not an expert) is that they are no more than a minor blip on the electric bill and the bulbs last forever.
 

the loach

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Aug 6, 2018
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My understanding about LED (clearly I'm not an expert) is that they are no more than a minor blip on the electric bill and the bulbs last forever.
Lol that is what a lot of folks think. IF they don't die after a number of years light intensity will have decreased dramatically, just as with fluorescents.
 

dougall

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Mar 29, 2005
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I would not say that electricity used is a minor blip... it really depends what you are comparing to.

but chances are that they will not heat the water significantly, so there is less change of needing a chiller. Otherwise if just looking at lighting, watts should be watts for the most part.. so 400W of LED light costs about the same as 400W of T5 light.

You should not have the expense of changing bulbs twice a year, and I do not believe that changes in light spectrum/intensity are too much of an issue.

Looking for the initial light, with the CRI that is pleasing to you, is another matter.
 
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