EVO light vs MarineLand Reef vs Finnex Ray2 vs Marineland DoubleBright vs Single Brig
So far, I have went through 5 types of lights for my 36 inch tank
Here are my breakdowns and opinion in case anyone else is interested in these lights
Marineland Single Bright 36 inch : This light is basically useless for the planted tank. It also is very direct. I would use it for a fish only tank, and if your tank is deep, you will still need 2 of these.
Marineland Double Bright 36 inch : This light is a great improvement over the Single bright. It is much brighter, but if you have a tank which is pretty high, I do not believe this can be used in a high tech setup. It MAY work for a low tech, but the light is quite direct, and you may need 2 of them
Marineland Reef 36 inch : This is the one without the TIMER. The one without the timer does not have the actinics. I bought this for $229.00 or so from DR FOSTER on sale, regular price was $349.00 or something like that. It is VERY bright, and this light alone with the Double Bright had the plants directly under this light pearling. It also has a WIDE SPREAD which means there is something with the optics of the LED, I believe they put a magnifier or something on it, to spread out the light. However, for my tank, it still wasn't covering the back of the tank very well, and the plants in the back of the tank refused to grow or pearl.
I then tried to save some money and I bought the EVO 36 inch light off Ebay (you know the one). I looked like an exact Marine land knockoff right? Well, except for the fact that it has a power supply like a laptop, and the heatsink ran a lot hotter than the marineland reef.
HERE IS THE KICKER, this EVO light is supposed to be 3 watt LEDs. Supposedly my Marineland Reef is 1 watt LEDS. When I put the light side by side, I believe the Marineland Reef is a lot brighter than the 3watt EVO. Also, the beam on this light was SUPER DIRECT. I am not kidding you, my friend has the same light, and it shoots STRAIGHT DOWN. It doesn't go anywhere off to the side other than where it is sitting on top of. You probably want the light go cast a light towards the back and the front of the tank also, not just where it sits on top off.
With the EVO, the plants in the back did start to pearl, but there was still a dark shadow in the very back of the tank (because this light was so direct)
Next, I bought the FINNEX RAY2 (I know, I should have just bought another Marineland Reef) --
The build quality on this unit is phenomenal for the price. It looks nothing like the Marineland, it has a nice housing, and it actually looks different from their own product photo. I loved the way the mounting brackets worked, and it uses 2 dense strips of LEDS. It is VERY compact and slim. I think it is about half the size of my marineland reef 36.
This slimness awarded me the ability to keep all the lights on top of my tank and still have room run in my Do!Aqua Lily Pipe (how nice)
The quality on the Finnex unit is top notched. I am very impressed by it. Finnex goes by PAR value, and I put the light on top of the tank and it was able to cast a wide output.
This email from Finnex: "Our Ray ll and FugeRay light fixtures has a 120° spread."
This is true, because it was able to light up the entire tank by itself when it was in the middle of the tank. I believe this light actually has a wider spread than the Marineland Reef 36 inch.
However, when I turn on the Marineland, I could tell that the Reef light was just "slightly" whiter in color. I do not know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
So right now, I run a Finnex Ray 2, and a Marineland Reef, and I use my doublebright as a moonlight.
If I were do it again? Because of the slimness, I may consider buying "3" RAY2.