Have you seen any high tech tanks that are successful with 20w screw in LED bulbs? Or with 150W COB flood lights?My plan right now involves using screw in LED bulbs (Not sure how many, 3-6?) to get what I need. Also not sure on the wattage I will use since that will depend on how successful I am at getting the light to the substrate. Which brings us to the point of this post.
Is there a cheap method of determining if I am successful in my setup? When making this system I need to know if I need 3 lights or 6 lights. If I should be using 20watt LED bulbs or 150 watt COB flood lights. etc. etc.
I have been reading about PAR and PPF and YPF, etc. The only thing I have walked away with so far is that figuring out what people call par but should probably be called ppfd is an expensive proposition of around 500 dollars if you want to be sure you are getting it right.
If you have, I would get in touch with those folks and find out more about their set up. I don't think you could have enough of the 20W bulbs to create enough PAR. The 150W floods might work, but the color rendition will be very poor. Color of light plays a big role in how we perceive both fish and plants.
As to PAR, many of us here use PAR meters to fine tune lighting. The Seneye meter is a popular one, which is widely used to measure PAR in both planted and reef tanks.
And when you are getting started with a planted tank, getting the light right is very important. Too much, or too little, can create problems. The amount of light should drive every other decision, including CO2 injection, fertilization, and selection of plants.
If I were you, I would look through the journal section here. Look for tanks that are successful in a similar style to what you have in mind. Then study their methods. It is easily the best way to have a successful start to your tank.
And you should start a journal detailing the set up. It's a great way to become involved with the community, and folks here are happy to offer advice and try to help you out if you need it.