I'm working to plan out a 40 breeder on a budget, and I've been pretty conflicted on lighting. I really want to have automated, dimmable lighting, and I want to be able to grow high-light plants. Running two Beamswork lights on a controller would be a cheap option, but for aesthetic reasons I don't want to have two strip lights.
I'm a DIY guy, so I started looking into other options. I really like the look of pendant lighting, so LED floodlights stood out to me. Currently I'm comparing some different options, and I'd love to hear your input and suggestions.
A 5000K DC 50W LED floodlight can be had for $27
(and it's IP-rated to boot!), so with 3 of those (would that be overkill?), some mounting hardware, a TC420
to control and dim it, and a beefy transformer, I'd probably be looking at $150 ($125ish with only two lights).
I'd like to be able to control color temperature though, so I started looking into RGB floodlights to supplement the white ones. It's a bit trickier to find RGB lights in DC, but I was able to find a pair of 10W ones for $25
. Of course, with RGB in the mix, some more smarts are needed to control color. A 4-pin RGB controller is about $20, although that wouldn't allow me to change color temp throughout the day. I might as well buy an Arduino, some MOSFETs, etc. and make my own timer/controller/dimmer for all the lights. I'm guessing the whole system, with 2 white lights and 2 RGBs, would cost me $150-$200.
I'm not sure if a 10W RGB would have enough of an effect on color temp running next to a 50W white - thoughts? Also, from past experience I'm concerned I'd get some weird shadowing. I'd probably just rather go with option 1 if I were to run the DC lighting.
I realized probably the best solution would be to just find a pair of powerful RGB floodlights. Unfortunately, it's quite tricky to find those in DC, so I couldn't find anything over ~10W (except for some pricey ones). Enter the glamorous, complicated solution. I found here
a pair of well-reviewed, remote-controlled AC
RGB floodlights. For the 100W pair (200W total), it's just $90! If I wanted to be less insane, I could get the 60W pair for $56.
I see two options for control. One, I could take apart the housing to get to the DC part and splice in my own controller. However, I really don't like working with 120 on stuff like this if I don't have to, and I wouldn't want to mess up the waterproofing. Also, it'd be easy for me to screw something up.
Secondly, because the remote just uses IR, I could build an Arduino circuit to spoof it. Infrared LEDs are cheap, so if you can figure out the codes an IR remote uses, you can imitate them with an Arduino. Luckily, I believe the codes are standard based on what I found here
. My only reservations would be the unknown PAR of the lights and having to keep the Arduino LED pointed at the them.
$90 for the lights, $20 for an Uno, $15 for various circuitry for the Arduino (RTC chip, LED, power supply, etc.), and ~$50 for a fixture for them (no idea how I'd do this; there are no obvious mounting points). That adds up to about $175 for this option.
The thing is, obviously none of these lights are meant for aquarium use. I have no idea what kind of PAR value they have: I don't want something that blinds you but doesn't grow plants, and I don't want something that grows a ton of algae. Short of buying the lights and testing them, is there any way for me to know what I'd be getting?
Also, I'm reading that the wide beam angle can be a problem. People rig up reflectors/shields with foil, but I want it to look professional. Since the light is IP rated, I suppose I could mount it a few inches off the water.
I'm also not sure what wattage I should aim for. The Kessil A360 is 90W, and you'd want two for a tank like this, but most people who use these floods are using ~1 - 1.5 watts/gal (I know, outdated metric).
One disadvantage I see for all options is that the floods are pretty big - 9" x 7.5" for the whites, and 9.5" x 6.3" for the RGB ones. In comparison, the AI Prime is just short of 5" x 5".
Anyway, hit me with your thoughts!