Okay, so I somewhat foolishly believed Fluval's Lumens claims around the Vista. After poking at the LEDs, and doing the math, the 8.5 gallon I've got can't be receiving more than about 300 Lumens or so from the included strip. I've hooked the strip up to a TC420 and have control over the two channels, so that's somewhat useful, but it's also gotten me thinking.
I am very much tempted to start cobbling together a fixture, and I'd probably get enough extra bits to build a larger version for a 29/20L too. But here's the sort of thing I'm attempting to do:
- I want to keep the new fixture under the hood, in place of the original LED strip/tube thing. This means moisture resistant, and <1" in height.
- Needs to be no wider than 2.5" and 17" long.
- I don't want to remove the hood. Need to keep the betta in and the cat out. Replacing it may be okay.
- I want to control it through the TC420 I'm already using.
- I would like to have multiple channels, including a blue one I can have on a little later for night viewing before I go to bed (this is how I am using the blue channel from the stock strip).
- I would like to overshoot low light a bit and aim for medium, just to give me flexibility in the future.
Knowing those project goals, I've put together this plan:
- ~16" of aluminum extrusion (KLUS TRIADA), along with endcaps and clear covers. This can hold 3 strips in parallel of up to 12mm in width and can provide a bit of a heat sink.
- ~30" of 90+ CRI bin SMD 3020 strip @ 6000-6500k. 5.4W/ft, , 36 LEDs/ft, claimed 79.6 lm/W.
- ~10" of SMD 3014 strip @ 3000-3500k. 9.5W/ft, 72 LEDs/ft, claimed 57 lm/W.
- 4" (two cuts) of SMD 5050 strip, Blue. 4.6W/ft
The two outer strips would be the high CRI white. The inner "strip" would be the warm white surrounded by the single cuts of blue. White, Warm White and Blue would be their own channel, controlled independently by the TC420. Each of the three spaces for strips is wide enough I can run the wiring for the center strip pieces along the sides of the strip. Once strips are tested and mounted, the plan was to use some LED seal on the strips, and then silicone the caps and covers in place with non-conductive silicone so it can withstand the condensation it will be exposed to.
If I've done my napkin math right, this gives me 90 white, 60 warm white, and 6 blue LEDs, for a total of 156, in a ~17" by 2.4" fixture that is a quarter inch high. Total wattage would be roughly 23W, with "up to" 1524 Lumens from the white LEDs available if cranked up to max. This would give plenty of headroom in this small 8.5 (think 10g standard footprint) tank to play with down the road.
I could also do a 24" version laid out similarly, which would have 261 LEDs (144 white, 108 warm white, 9 blue) which would kick it up to about 38W, and "up to" 2530 lumens. This all assumes the claimed output for the strips are accurate, but they seem within reasonable ranges from my research, although the high CRI lights may be a bit overstated (the low CRI bin of 3020 which is a bit cheaper claims 68 lm/W for the same LED design).
Anyhow, this is my plan. I figured this approach was a good way to hit the requirements, if doing it in a somewhat expensive way. But since I'm sure I'm missing something, I figured I'd let you folks tear it apart and tell me what it is I missed.