Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Denver, CO & Phang-Nga, Thailand
In computers, they put the fan directly on the hottest chip which is usually horizontally sitting on the motherboard. I don't think there is much else to the orientation of those fans.
You want to simply have the maximum airflow moving across the largest area of the heatsink possible. The heatsink is made to exchange heat with surrounding air, and it doesn't matter where the fan is at all. It only matters that there is cool air coming across the heatsink and that that air, once warmed by the heatsink, moves away from the lights.
If I had a 36 inch heatsink, I would try to configure the fan so that there is constant air flow across the entire heatsink - that would probably involve mounting the fan off the heatsink rather than right on top of it.
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"The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods." Socrates