Having recently started two smaller 13G shrimp tanks I was looking for some simple LED lighting. Thought to myself that the LED technology is moving forwards rapidly so finding something less advanced for a good price would be no problem. I was wrong.
Having built a larger DIY-LED fixture I have gotten some knowledge on the costs for leds, heatsinks etc. and quite frankly looking at some of the bigger manufacturers of LED lights I am starting to wonder how they set their prices, I am guessing some sort of freaky friday spin the wheel thing.
Paying 200$ (Eheim) for a 24W LED fixture and not even getting a friggin power adapter included is an insult to the consumer, a common practice it seems. Think back five to ten years on buying a T5 fixture, as far as I can remember the ballasts and the power cord was included generally.
And in some cases fixtures for the tank also has to be bought separately.
Well now haven gotten all that out of my system lets get back to the Chihiros A-Series LED. After looking through the plethora of both known and lesser known aquarium LED systems I gave up and headed over to Ebay and on a whim typed "aquarium LED", sifted through some junk and finally something caught my eye. A LED light what claimed to have good power outputs, looked good and priced at 35$ (power adapter included!!!) and free shipping to Sweden where I live. I instantly thought, this has to be complete garbage but after reading through the description written in somewhat sketchy english I decided to take a leap of faith and ordered two home for some reason. It is now 14 days later and they arrived two days ago. So decided after some short usage that this unit deserves a review and so here we are.
So knowingly I did go into this with the expectation that this unit probably was going to be garbage do believe me when I say that if the unit was somehow ugly and not doing what is was supposed to I would not be using it no matter the price.
On to the unit itself.
Chihiros A-Series 39W (60 cm)
117 x 0.3W LEDs
Rated at 5800 lumen
Rated color temp - 8000K (cold white)
There are also 20cm - 120cm versions available.
Onto the unboxing (click the images for larger versions).
Not much to say about the box, white with an image of the LED unit. Nothing fancy.
Opening the box and unpacking the contents.
Included are the LED unit itself, nicely packed in bubblewrap. There is also a zip bag containing the mounting parts and also the dimmer unit. There is also a power adapter and a cord to plug it into the socket (different socket types are available)
Close up on the power unit, rated at 12V and 5A should net around 60W so should be more than capable of running the unit (correct me if I am wrong here)
The dimmer unit, connects between the power unit and the LED unit. The LED can be run without this if one would like to.
Three buttons, plus and minus to increase or decrease the strenght, this is done in 7 - steps. The mode button is on/off button as far as I have figured out.
The dimmer has so far remembered the last strength setting when the unit has been disconnected from the main grid.
Button mashing (don't do that)
Mounting kit, included are two plastic sides, some rubbery/plastic things that slips onto the plastic sides and then rests on the aquarium glass. 5 small screws (4 needed) to attach them to the unit itself, screwdriver also included.
Unit itself facing down, a silver anodized aluminum surface. No scratches or marks and looks really tidy. The unit is not bent, its the surface its resting on that has been mistreated some.
Unit facing up, led rows protected by a plastic splash guard.
Closeup on the leds, three rows with 39 LEDs each totaling in 117 Leds. Got no details on the LED specifics unfortunately. Soldering looks good.
Unit with plastic mounts installed. The plastic sides are bent inwards some, not sure if this is intentional to clamp onto the tank? It is angled equally at both sides of the unit anyways.
Close up on the plastic mount and the rubber thing attached to it. The plastic was molded good enough, not perfect as some uneveness can be seen in the plastics surface when lit on with a light. Nothing noticeable unless detailing the unit. Actually looks quite "classy".
Other side of the unit, cable is of good quality and a good amount of stiffness, connection to the unit feels rigid.
Unit facing up lit, everything working alright !
Step into the light.
Here you can see the rather cold light the unit emits, I would probably prefer a bit warmer light but it is not to cold and did not bother me.
Unit mounted on one of my new breeding tanks with the lowest setting.
Another one with the light at the fourth power setting.
A closer upper on the mount.
And finally a black pinto shrimp that hopefully will breed me some goodies in the future. And yes he/she approves !
So my thought on the unit you ask. Well I am very pleasantly surprised, the finish of the unit is really not what I expected (in a good way). The parts fit together well and apart for some minor issues with the plastic side mounts quality wise the unit feels much more pricey than it is. Sure it does lack the final touch that the 200$+ units have, but seriously at this price one cannot start nitpicking.
The color of the light is on the cold side and this will end up being a personal taste issue. I myself do normally use light in the 5000-6000K range and the color temp of this unit did not bother me personally. The dimming unit included is a nice little feature and I have not noticed and flickering etc on any of the power settings.
After some usage I did notice the heat-sink getting really hot, do not have any proper measuring equipment but would guess it is around 50 degrees celcius. You will not get skin-burn instantly but will start hurting after a little while.
I cannot say much for the longevity of the unit since I only had it for some I guess time will have to tell.
There is also an optional mounting unit using four holes in the led unit where one press in some steel pins and this get an adjustable mount. Looks sleek enough though the plastic mounts sitting on the rim of the tank are not the best looking, not bad not good. The mount is also a bit on the flimsy side until one has positioned it correctly and tightened it up.
Took out the seneye and did some measurements in my 13G and also in my 29G
Just took a couple of points at the substrate in the 29G since it is heavily planted, but at substrate in the middle around 110-120 PAR and in the front around 50-70PAR. Light was on an adjustable mount and rather close to the surface to avoid to much light spreading in the room.
For the 13G (30cm / 12 inches from substrate middle line of the tank), dimming levels 1-7 on the included dimmer.
Level 1 - 8.5 Par
Level 2 - 30 Par
Level 3 - 49 Par
Level 4 - 70 Par
Level 5 - 90 Par
Level 6 - 105 Par
Level 7 - 130 Par
+Price is amazing
+Good light levels
+Ready to run
+Good build quality
-Included mount not adjustable (can be ordered as an extra. +~5$)
-Gets rather hot on the highest intensity setting
-Some smaller plastic mold quality issues
So there we have it, really satisfied and feeling rather good not spending money on overpriced LED units. They need to get their [censored][censored][censored][censored] together...
Thanks for reading !