T5HO or LED?
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:21 PM   #1
statler&waldorf
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T5HO or LED?


I have a bit of a dilema, and I could use some input.
I currently have over my 20 long an odyssea t5ho fixture. I am aware of the brand's reputation, and had planned on it being temporary. The bulbs in it are now about 9 months old, and I've started to get bluegreen algae, so I am pretty sure it is time to replace them. However, in looking at the price of bulbs, it seems that they are almost as expensive as getting a new fixture. So I've been looking at LEDs.

So far, I've found 3 fixtures that look like they would be similar to the amount of light I have now, and would fit within my budget.
Finnex Fugeray - I've read really good reviews on this fixture, though when reading up on other fixtures, it seems that fewer higher wattage LEDs are usually recommended over higher quantity but smaller wattage LEDs. Also, this would probably lower the PAR on my tank a bit.
Marineland Double Bright- I've read mixed reviews on this fixture, but looks like it produces decent low-medium light.
No-name chinese fixture with 27 1watt LEDs - I couldn't find any PAR data on this one, but it looks similar to the marineland double bright, but with more than twice the LEDs, of the same wattage.

So, would you replace the t5ho bulbs, cheaper for now, but possible more expensive in the long run (especially if it catches fire ) or would you go with a new LED fixture, and which one?
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:37 PM   #2
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I have two Finnex 36" Ray 2's. I love them. Check their thread under Sponsors here. Lots of info.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:53 PM   #3
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In the long run a good LED fixture will save money as they don't dim, the output doesn't change ie.. Having to change your bulbs. The initial investment can be somewhat pricey but it's a worth while investment.

My next tank will be utilizing a 36" fugeray, for higher output look into their ray2 fixtures, or you can always build one!!

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Old 01-13-2013, 08:45 PM   #4
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I just received a new light fixture from catalina that uses both because I dont think that either technology is perfect.

I think your best bet would be a single fuge ray or ray 2 depending on your needs and a single or double t5 (I prefer to have more light han less, but everyone else will say its overkill). Running an aquaflora with the finnex led will warm up the look of the tank and allow for dawn dusk cycles too.

t5's are fantastic at bringing out color and warming (both color and temp) up an aquarium. The downside is what brought you to this question in the first place: expensive bulb replacement.

I'm still not 100% sold on leds even though I do really like them and think they are the future of pretty much all lighting including aquariums. I think the newer micro chip technology (like kessil is using) is really promising, but I still have my doubts about really low wattage leds (anything less than 1w emmitters) getting the job done. I have 36 1w leds spread around evenly over my tank and the light output looks similiar to a single 39w 6,000k giesemann t5 bulb with an indivual reflector (just the way it appears to me, I do not have a par meter).

The solution for me was to mix t5's with leds to lower the bulb replacement costs but still give me the warmth and reliability of t5's. I thought the 4 9w strips of leds would be brighter than they are, but combined with three t5's, there is plenty of light and a nice color rendering.

Catalina makes quality custom lights and theyll do whatever you ask, but they also have pre made combo t5/led planted tank lights that are reasonably priced and theyll let you pick the t5 bulbs you want. I am very happy with mine.
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:37 PM   #5
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I'm still a fan of T5s. In a nice fixture such as those offered by Tek or ATI the bulbs last at least 2 years until they need replacing.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:32 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your input. I still don't think I'm any closer to a decision. I was mostly sold on LED, then I read all your thoughts on T5s, and agree they seem to have better output. Running a single t5 with an LED might be an option, but then I'll have to buy replacement bulbs AND an led fixture. Any other thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 01-15-2013, 04:25 AM   #7
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No one else? Still can't make up my mind!
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:39 PM   #8
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I had to make the same decision 2 weeks ago, and I finally chose t5ho for a few reasons.
My calculations was based on my 40b.
1) it is not really saving your electricity bill. I saw a PAR reading on one of our forum member's new LED fixture. He used 24(26?) of 3w LEDs to light up his 40B and got got as much PAR as his Catalina t5ho with 2 bulbs on. 24x3w=72w, 2x39w=78w.

2) it is not really going to save me money on changing the bulbs. One of that good LED fixture from BuldMyLED.com can easily cost you over $300-$350 bucks. As I mentioned, one of this 24x3w LED fixture will give you the same amount of PAR as a 2 bulbs Catalina fixture. One of that Catalina light cost you $150ish with bulbs. And you have almost $200 left to buy A LOT of replacement bulbs that will last you at least 5 more years. As there are always better LEDs coming out, can you really control yourself not to change any of them after 5 years? What if there's a new type of light become popular? A new technology for now can really be outdated after 10 years. I learned this lesson when I was really into computer hardware.

3) I don't know what you feel, but I really don't like the fact that I can not find a LED combo look as natural as t5ho combo so far.

I am not planing to keep the same old fixture for over 10 years with no change, so do many other people. Then way are we bothering the " long run" cost?

That's just my w cents.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:47 PM   #9
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leds cuz its more energy efficient and it gives out that shimmering effect if you have high flow in the tank. makes it look a lil more natural. tho i do miss the white/pink color combo of the T5's. making the plants and fish more colorful

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Old 01-16-2013, 12:52 AM   #10
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You will probably never get a diy project to look as sleek as a manufactured fixture, but you can get a ton of PAR for your money with diy LEDs. Cree XM-Ls run about $6.50 a pop but can put out 1000 lumens each at full current. Now that I've started using LEDs they just seem much more like a no-brainer to me. There's also the added bonus of having directional light output. No matter how good a reflector you have on your t5s, you will never get 100% of the light onto the target.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huhu89151734 View Post
I had to make the same decision 2 weeks ago, and I finally chose t5ho for a few reasons.
My calculations was based on my 40b.
1) it is not really saving your electricity bill. I saw a PAR reading on one of our forum member's new LED fixture. He used 24(26?) of 3w LEDs to light up his 40B and got got as much PAR as his Catalina t5ho with 2 bulbs on. 24x3w=72w, 2x39w=78w.
"3 watt" LEDs don't necessarily use 3 watts of electricity. That rating is for the LED being driven at near maximum power. Most of us, I believe, run our DIY LED lights at reduced power, to allow us to use more primitive heatsinks, and have the LEDs last a lot longer. So, unless you know that the LED fixture you mentioned actually runs the LEDs at 3 watts each, you can't make that comparison. They may be running at 1 watt each.

By contrast, a good T5HO light will run the bulbs at the rated power, if not a bit higher. But, cheap ones often use cheap ballasts and don't run the bulbs at full rated power.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
"3 watt" LEDs don't necessarily use 3 watts of electricity. That rating is for the LED being driven at near maximum power. Most of us, I believe, run our DIY LED lights at reduced power, to allow us to use more primitive heatsinks, and have the LEDs last a lot longer. So, unless you know that the LED fixture you mentioned actually runs the LEDs at 3 watts each, you can't make that comparison. They may be running at 1 watt each.

By contrast, a good T5HO light will run the bulbs at the rated power, if not a bit higher. But, cheap ones often use cheap ballasts and don't run the bulbs at full rated power.
+1 I had a deep blue solarmax two bulb t5 HO fixture and the bulbs were maybe as bright as a two bulb coralife NO fixture. Good ballasts make a world of difference.

Quality reflectors are extremely important with t5's. A good reflector can nearly triple the par output of a t5. Individual reflectors are preferred, individually bent reflectors would be the next best option, and a single reflector would be the least efficient. Individual reflectors also spread the bulbs out from one another giving better coverage. Fixtures with bad reflectors usually have bulbs way too close together which wastes light and overheats the bulbs causing them to throw out less par.
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