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felixn 05-18-2012 12:32 PM

LED choice 180 Gallon tank
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I could really use your expert guidance for the 180 gallon I am setting up. I will try to keep my initial post short.

Tank specs:
6'x2'x2' acrylic eurobraced with sump. See attached pic.

What I want in the fixture:

1.) RGB adjustability or a warmer spectrum with cooler led's on a separate channel from warmer ones so that I have some control

2.) I think 180W or so of CREE level LED's have more peak power as a fixture than I would actually need to reach my target of 50-100 PAR on the substrate. I would probably run lower PAR most of the time, but I want the ability to deliver that amount or more.

4.) The high end off the shelf fixtures that have these features that I could find seemed wasteful in the sense that I would never exploit their blue channels and hang them very high with tight optics at the edges.
(3 Sol white, 3 maxspect P, 2 ecotech radion, or 2 maxspect razor 10k)

The razor would have more wattage than I want to use, but uses the XPE led, which is a tiny bit worse in the efficiency dept compared to XPG/XML
(by the way unless you way underdrive the XML it is not more efficient than the XPG)

This would allow me to avoid most of the Razorz blue spectrum, but it also lacks RGB in any fashion. hopefully I could underdrive both channels to stay at a very efficient curve of those Xp-E LEDs?

5.) With all those doubts I started looking for a custom builder who could make me such a fixture. Any ideas? I contacted wingoled and he shot me an estimate. His choices seem great, but his pricepoint for the fixture built at $1750 exceeds a maxpspect- P 3 module setup with all the jazz.

Here is the proposition by wingoled:

Can anyone here offer some guidance?

It looks like a custom build costs the same as the highest end shelf solutions and I cant say they would compare on looks...

jcgd 05-18-2012 12:43 PM

I built one. I'm workin on getting par readings.

Steve001 05-18-2012 02:59 PM


Originally Posted by felixn (Post 1866662)
I could really use your expert guidance for the 180 gallon I am setting up. I will try to keep my initial post short.

Can anyone here offer some guidance?

It looks like a custom build costs the same as the highest end shelf solutions and I cant say they would compare on looks...

For a tank that size there are other options for you to consider.

There's florescent induction light.
I know of only one company producing fluorescent induction lighting for aquaria.

And there's plasma lighting.
The tank on the right is using Chameleon's plasma light.

felixn 05-18-2012 05:36 PM

Thank you for replying.

I had actually read your entire build thread JCGD. Very cool indeed. my guess was that with all components and supplies your total cost was around $800? Does that sound right? I don't mind the offers build fee of $400 at all, that sounds reasonable to me. Even so the offer clocks in at another $500 on top of that. It could well be justified, but I have no way of knowing that beforehand. As I am really not sure what kind of build quality, light distribution and adjustability I would get in return.

I think you have a point mentioning that I should consider non LED setups.
I realize that much of the trouble for LED applications for my purpose traditional methods do not have:

1.) spot lighting, uneven light

2.) difficulty achieving desired colors and control of color

I had never heard of induction lighting used in aquaria before. INTERESTING!

This white paper essentially states that from an efficiency standpoint LED's have replaced induction lighting. But if the fixture is significantly less expensive and immediately solves my coverage issues it might be the way to go. After all we really dont have the reef issue of needing MORE light in one spot we want the same light evenly dispersed. At least I do.

What would you suggest as far as induction goes? A single pro 400 or 2 two pro 200?

If you were suggesting two pro 400 that seems like 4x the electricity to me. I would also not have a way of dimming that fixture and be quite worried of the amount of light THAT would put out.

felixn 05-18-2012 06:12 PM

It looks to me like the Chameleon solution would also cost 1400, and deliver a luminous flux of 17000 lumen. I don't see a reason to do the comparison with the 2000 PAR @ 12 inches as the entire output spectrum is usable and the color seems pleasant from a webpage anyways :p

If one gives the maxspect the benefit of the doubt and pretends blue light is as favored by plants as all others (it is not), then a 5 pendant fixture would give the equivalent lumen output. And incidentally pretty much use the exact same wattage of 300.

That is very interesting indeed!

The problem is then I have gone from many spotlights to one insanely bright spot on a quest for even lighting. Does anyone have experience how much control can be exerted with reflectors there? I presume this would be easily answered by someone who has run metal halides on a planted tank.

jcgd 05-18-2012 06:22 PM

You could light it well for less than $500 with par 38 led bulbs and a DIY fixture. The fixture would have to be tall though, probably 8-10". You would use regular old screw in outlets. I'm using two over my new 4' tank but if you used 6-8 I would think it would be pretty uniform.

jcgd 05-18-2012 06:24 PM

I think you really have to use spotlighting to your advantage. Rather than try to beat it, run with it.

Or stick with t5ho.

felixn 05-18-2012 06:30 PM

Could you comment on the total component cost of the DIY build you did? To include things like the soldering iron, the hanging bracks and all the cables and accessories one ends up purchasing.

I think you did a very nice job and neded up with a fixture in line with what I am looking for.

That component cost plus a $400 build fee sounds like a fair gig for me to shoot for.

Hoppy 05-18-2012 06:38 PM

It takes a surprising amount of money for the odds and ends of hardware for a LED light, so I see nothing out of place on that estimate. I calculate that about 48 XP-G LEDs, with 40 degree optics, will give you the PAR you want, with the light about a foot above the top of the tank, and if you use something like 16 Neutral White and 32 Cool White with separate dimmable drivers for the two colors you would have some control over the color of the lighting. Personally I am not yet sold on using blue, green and red LEDs to augment the color. There should be no spotlighting with that design.

felixn 05-18-2012 09:18 PM

Glad to hear wingoleds estimate sounds right. He did give me the impression of a friendly guy passionate about what he does.

I know what you mean about RGB led use. That is essentially another step closer to disco and spot differences. My ideal way of controlling temperature might just be to run 3 channels neutral white cool white and warm white and dim them against each other until I have the color I want. Its justa guess but that way each LED already has far more chromaticity than a single spike.

Does anyone know how those plasma things compare in electrical efficiency?

i realize most LEDS come in at about 150 lumen per watt, but the cooling fans, the PS etc. all contribute to a significantly lower fixture efficiency.

That chameleon advertised 17000 lumen (and my understanding is that fixture essentially brings its entire spectrum within PAR especially since so much less is in the blue) at 300watt consumption for the fixture that brings about 56 lumen per watt...not so grand.

From their specs:

Optimized Light Spectrum for Optimum Plant Performance
325nm - 800nm Extended PAR Spectrum (includes beneficial UVB & phytochrome wavelengths)
PPFD - 2000 umoles (incident - measured @ 12)
PPF - 300 umoles (average - measured in integrated sphere)
5600K - Correlated Color Temperature (CCT)
95 - Color Rendering Index (CRI)
17,000 - Lumens
Borosilicate Glass with Hot Mirror Coating
(allows only 325nm - 800nm to pass through glass IR light reflected back into instrument)
Reflector Material - 90% Reflectivity
Optimum Coverage Area - 39 x 39 (1m x 1m) to 4 x 4 (1.22m x 1.22m)
Coverage Pattern ~ 160
Recommended Distance from Plant Canopy ~ 12 16 (304.8mm 406.4mm)
Light Orientation (facing down 90)

jcgd 05-19-2012 04:53 PM

I am afraid to add up my fixture, but I'm thinking around $1500-2000. I'm not very organized so finding all the receipts would be brutal. That includes some tools like a solder station and other odd balls. It adds up quick and I even had some freebies, like the aluminum housing. But I also took months to build mine. The hole tapping alone took 12 hours straight.

Like Hoppy said, the quote is really quite good when you consider that you will have about the same functionality as I do but the assembly time will be a fraction of what mine was. I don't believe everyone has the know-how or trade skills to do what I did, but the kits make it much simpler. It's a decent price for a one stop shop.

You could also do something like two radions, one over each hole in the brace, but you have to be willing to deal with the uneven lighting. You may have to shine whatever light use use through the bracing and deal with the outcome. It's going to be hard to have even lighting through only the open areas of the brace.

plantbrain 05-19-2012 04:56 PM

You could look at pugman's 180 ADA thread, he spent about 2000$ but it's already made and ready to go, depends if you have idle time and like DIY.
If not, how much would you pay yourself to make something like this for someone else?

Adds up.

jcgd 05-19-2012 05:06 PM

I've never heard of anyone actually recommending any of those plasma type lights or whatever. Couldn't tell you a thing about them... except that I've never seen any or know where to look.

LEDs draw a heck of a lot less, regardless of fans and such. If you even swapped from cfls in your house to standard LED bulbs you can drop your lighting power consumption easily in half. From incandescent you are talk more like 1/5 of the power or less.

A Wingo fixture like your quoted one would probably draw around 180 watts or less running full bore. This a a estimated guess but:

48 xpg at 3.15V at 1000mA = 151.2 watts
3 Fan, 12v @ 0.32A = 11.5 watts
Controllers, guessing.. = >20 watts

And many people end up dialing everything back. So think more like 120 watts or so.

felixn 05-21-2012 01:40 PM

Thank you everyone for the great input!

I did a bunch of research on the plasma lights, and my bottom line is that interestingly enough the products out there are simply not 100% mature yet. Apparently the gavina has the reflector thing down, but only comes with a square reflector. The seashine has a 60 by120 reflector which would be the thing to use but is a less efficient reflector and overall lamp. I really liked the idea of a full spectrum, that is something LED really don't have.

Nevertheless from what I can tell the plasma light really doesnt do much better than a t5 HO or CF fixture at the socket and those are full spectrum as well.

I am back to LED and will be giving wingoled a ring. I have to figure out exactly what I would get going with him over the upcoming AI vega or radions. That really would be the same price after all.

Steve001 05-21-2012 02:45 PM


Originally Posted by jcgd (Post 1868501)
I've never heard of anyone actually recommending any of those plasma type lights or whatever. Couldn't tell you a thing about them... except that I've never seen any or know where to look

Follow the link I posted. This site keeps abreast of the newest lighting technologies for aquaria

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