Last month at the AGA Convention some very lucky people got to see the newest offerings from AH Supply; their LED lamp arrays! That’s right, AH Supply - the company that brought us the Power Compact kits with the MIRO 4 reflectors, is now offering LED’s lamp arrays for the DIY hobbyist.
Many of us that have been in the planted aquarium hobby for a while are familiar with Aquarium Hobbyist Supply (AH Supply / AHS). They developed the Power Compact kits with the MIRO 4 reflectors that set the standard for Power Compact (PC) performance both for planted aquariums and saltwater. Even today a quality AHS Power Compact kit outperforms most of the 2 bulb T5HO fixtures that are on the market. In addition AH Supply has a reputation for using quality components and providing excellent support. It’s no secret that I like AH Supply kits; I have used them since I re-entered the hobby almost 5 years ago and have been very pleased with the equipment. What I especially like about their kits is if a component goes bad and needs to be replaced in one of my lights it is as simple and as ordering it and having it shipped. Since I put the fixture together in the first place, repairs are a snap.
I have had the opportunity to see and test the original prototypes of these LED lamp arrays as early as last spring. Then this fall I received an unexpected package from AH Supply, it was their 20 watt LED lamp array mounted in a vintage Aqueon/All Glass strip light housing. I was amazed; it was so simple in design! It consisted of the housing, power cord, and switch which were all part of the original Aqueon/ All-Glass strip light. What was new was a 2G11 (4 pin straight) socket/base, two stand-offs for holding the LED lamp array, and a box with the new design 20 watt LED lamp array….that was it!
For those of us that have wanted LED’s for our lighting but were intimidated by the sizes, spectrums, lenses, heat sinks, drivers, series wiring, parallel wiring, connectors, etc. these LED lamp arrays give us an alternative for easy DIY upgrades for our fixtures and canopies.
The L.E.D. lamp arrays run on standard 110/120 VAC
and do not require a driver/ballast. After I plugged the L.E.D. array into the 2G11 socket and inserted the LED lamp array into the holders/stand-offs it was ready to go!
I decided to run it through its paces and it performed excellently. The L.E.D.s all lit simultaneously and with equal brightness. I put it on my 20 gallon tank and it looked identical in spectrum to the 6700K PC bulb I was using which would make sense since the LED lamp is rated 6400K. GSAS has a PAR meter for our members so I immediately called and reserved the next open slot so I could run some PAR tests; here are the results:
Please note that the PAR readings shown were taken in ‘open air’ and would likely be higher due to internal reflection if I had taken them in an aquarium filled with water. I will try to take readings in one of my aquariums in the future. How do these PAR readings compare to a AH Supply Power Compact kit for example? I have a 2X36 watt AH Supply PC kit (72 watts total) on my 30 gallon. At the substrate level (13”) the PAR for that fixture is about 95 so these 20 watt LED lamp arrays put out about 80% of the light intensity of my PC's while only consuming about 28% of the wattage.
Saving money on electricity consumption is good, however the real savings for replacing power compact or T5HO lamps with L.E.D. lamp arrays in not the electricity cost. For example on that 30 gallon if I replaced the two 36 watt power compact lamps with a 20 watt array I would save approximately 52 watts per hour. I run my light 6 hours a day so I would save 312 watt/hours per day or 0.3 KWH per day. Over the course of a 30 day month that would save 30 x 0.3 = 9.0 KWH. I pay about $0.10 per KHW so I would save $0.90 per month or $10.80 per year.
The real savings however are the cost of replacing the power compact lamps. Typically I pay about $15 per lamp and I replace them every 12 months because I have noted a 20% drop in the PAR values over that period. L.E.D. arrays have an estimated life expectancy of 30,000 hours (13.7 years at 6 hours per day). Therefore my annual savings per year is the $30 (2 bulbs) and $10.80 (electricity) for a total annual savings of $40.80. The cost of the 20 watt array is less than $85 so my payback period is little over 2 years assuming electricity and bulbs do no go up in price..
AH Supply offers the LED lamp arrays in three sizes. There is a 15 watt that is 17” long which would be great for a 10 gallon or two end to end they cover the length of a 36” long tank. There are two LED lamp offerings that are 22” long; the 20 watt which I have just tested and a more powerful 26 watt unit.
The AH Supply also offers the LED lamp clips (stand-offs) that hold the lamp along with an assortment of LED 2G11 sockets; both moisture resistant and standard. Since some 2G11 sockets come with internal jumpers and some don't it would be wise to use the ones AHS recommends. There is also a variety of power cords, power switches, and hardware available on their website.
The AHS website has not been updated with pictures or details of the LED lamps but the pricing and ordering information is located at AH Supply LED’s
. Now I know what to ask Santa for this Christmas!