LED Lightning

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by denzil, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Hey everyone, I've been looking at LED lighting and I posted up the question at RC regarding what lighting would be ideal for my 40B build.


    I haven't heard of any of these brands before but I did look at them and the AI Vega's and LEDTRiC iNSPIRE's are pretty pricey (at least for me). I did like the price of the Evergrow D120 (http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Free-shipping-D-120w-55x3w-28-blue-and-27white/317880_544636535.html). Has anyone had any experience with them? Are there any other LED lighting alternatives that you could suggest?

  2. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    What happened to you having decided on the a350w?
    I like reefbrights for softies and lps. I have ai sol blues on my 120 and they grow everything quite well. Haven't heard of those others. If you have it in you buy the pieces to copy one you like and make it yourself.
  3. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    I'm not sold on the Vega over the Sol from AI, seems the Vega has every color crammed in there, even though I'm not a huge fan of reds and greens being added, if I was sold on AI's LEDs I'd still go in the direction of the Sols.

    I think the 350w would be wasteful, not because of the reasons stated in the post (who cares if the edges of the tank are dark, raise the damn light if that's the case), but because you'd probably lose too much light to the front and back. A couple Kessil 150s might be a nice addition, little goosenecks would still give a nice clean open top look if that's what you're aiming for, only downside is you can't control/dim the 150s.

    That Evergrow definitely has the stink of cheap Chinese knockoff all over it, granted there have been some that actually do work well, but it's definitely one of those things I'd let few others experiment with. Bottom line if you want a known manufacturer brand LED unit its going to cost you at least double what that Evergrow one is.

    I forget what the exact size of a 40B but I seem to recall somewhat long and skinny & shallow. If you have DIY know how you could get away simply throwing LEDs on a heatsink and ignoring lenses. or deal with the fact you will have light spilling over, know where your brighter areas are on the tank, and plan your coral placement accordingly.
  4. patchin

    patchin Facilities / Event Coordinator

    If you're ok with diy, Felicia, at the swap, is very happy with one she built from a kit.
  5. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Just kind of window shopping if there are reasons to not go with the A350W. Been reading a lot of DIY LED threads/videos.

    Yeah, what I don't like about the 150's is the lack of adjustability and it has more of a spotlight effect. You can definitely tell that the Evergrow's are cheap knockoffs, LoL. There's also the question of what kind of LED's they're actually using but some people swear by them. /shrug

    The 40B measure 36 x 18 x 16 so it's pretty shallow and has the same base dimensions as a 50 or 65 gallon tank; however, the only difference is the height.

    Yeah, I can totally build one from scratch or a kit. I learned circuits through school (Computer Engineering major; basically a hybrid of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering). It's really just a matter of opportunity cost and preference. I'm really only interested in the DIY route if I can save over $100. Otherwise, my time might be better spent doing personal development towards my career and hanging out with Brandie. :)
  6. FeliciaLynn

    FeliciaLynn Supporting Member

    Yep, I went the DIY route with LEDS and I've been super happy with my fixture. I've had it set up since January (so about 8 months) and I'm getting some amazing growth from all of my corals, especially the SPS. I've got several frags (Bali Slimer and a birdsnest) that I put in at the same time I got the light that were about 1" tall little frags and they are now pretty good size colonies that I've started fragging. I can post some growth photos over time tomorrow when I have some time to sort through all my pictures of the tank.

    The kit I have is from Aquastyleonline.com. Its the 36 LED kit that is fully dimmable and includes everything you need except the heatsinks which I also ordered from their website. The LEDs are Bridgelux (American made) 3 watt LEDs and they let you pick any color combination you want to tailor it to your preferences. I have half blue and the other half is a mix of 10,000k and 4,500k whites. I put the blues on one dimmer and the whites on the other so that you can tailor the white to blue balance and also put them on separate times for sunset effects. With the kit, heatsinks, and shipping, I paid around $180 for the whole set-up which is plenty for my 30 gallon (3 feet long). I don't even run the LEDs on full power, I've got them dimmer to about 60-70%. The kit comes with easy to follow directions on how to hook everything up. The only difficult part is soldering, which I'd never done before. I just watched a few Youtube videos and went for it. I didn't have a single issue and it took me about 4 hours to assemble the whole fixture.

    Here are some photos of the fixture and how I have it hanging above the tank (this was when I first set up the tank):
    Drivers and dimmer controls mounted just behind the tank out of sight.
    LEDs glued onto the heatsink just before soldering.
    My living room with the tank and the hanging fixture.
  7. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    That looks pretty good, Felicia! Are those dimmable drivers left open behind the tank? I fear for when water may splash on those open terminal connections. =/

    I feel pretty convinced that DIY may be the route I'll be taking. I think I'll do something a little bit different as far as the placement of the dimmable drivers. I do like the fact that you used the Wiremold to hide the cabling. :)
  8. patchin

    patchin Facilities / Event Coordinator

    Cool cat pose.
  9. xulio

    xulio Supporting Member


    I'm happy with my Chinese LED lights (141W, 50-50 white/blue, 60 degree lenses - search those specs on eBay and you'll see what I have) on 55gal hex. Mine are not dimmable (though I can't tell that those that you point out can be dimmed using a controller).

    I hate to make a recommendation based on my setup because it is too early to tell. My blue/purple maxima clam seems to be loving the light. It's been there for 2 months and happy as a clam fits the bill. I have a chalice I got from Neptune's that hasn't done too well and is currently sitting at the bottom of the tank hoping that it recovers. Other corals seem to be doing well (2 Acans, zoas, and some shrooms). The green encrusting monti I got at the swap looks to like the lights too.

    Good luck in your search,

  10. magnetar68

    magnetar68 Guest

    I also went DIY and I am very happy with my build. There are some really nice kits now too. The hardest part for me was driving the dimming from my RKE controller.


  11. FeliciaLynn

    FeliciaLynn Supporting Member

    Thanks! Mine are open behind the tank and I've been considering covering them because right now I'm just super careful about not splashing them and so far so good. A lot of people on Nano-Reef have the kits from Aquastyleonline and they just buy some sort of plastic or metal box to put the drivers and dimmers into. They then connect knobs on the outside of the box to control them while keeping them protected from water. I probably need to get around to doing that with mine.

    And honestly, I think DIY is the way to go with the LEDS because I saved at least 50% (probably much more) by going that route and it really wasn't that time consuming or difficult. I'm glad you like the Wiremold. I hate dangling wires and they were ruining the clean look of the hanging fixture before I hid them :)
  12. FeliciaLynn

    FeliciaLynn Supporting Member

    Yep, that's my cat Lily and she just loves to get in any photos I'm taking. I have tons of photos of her on top of my tank, staring at my fish, hanging out in my water change buckets, etc. Haha!
  13. xulio

    xulio Supporting Member


    I'm a DIY kind of guy and when I looked at LED lights back in February, the DIY route did not seem cost effective (compared to some of the Chinese LED lights). I haven't looked at the DIY cost since but I'm curious as to how you quantify the 50% savings. BTW, no disrespect here. I always love a DIY build.


  14. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Well you're not going to save over $100 off that cheap Chinese one (that very well might be good), but going the DIY route definitely will save you over $100 vs. brand name fixtures. Here's one I noticed a while back.


    Hmmm triple pucks, 8 of them... that's an Aqua Illumination Sol clone! Best of all you don't even need to solder as it has the solderless connects! So easy even a caveman can do it!
  15. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    My cats have shown zero interest in my fish... which is a good thing but I always secretly wished to see them perched above, hear a splash and see a wet kitty later.
  16. FeliciaLynn

    FeliciaLynn Supporting Member

    I should have been more clear. I was saying a 50% savings versus one of the big name brand fixtures like the AI Sol or Radion. I didn't seriously consider one of the Ebay Chinese light fixtures simply because I couldn't find people who had them to get feedback from. I have a feeling they're probably very good lights though. I just wanted a bit more positive feedback before I'd buy one. I picked the Aquastyleonline kit because I'm really active on Nano-Reefs and they have a whole thread for people with the Aquastyle LED kits to explain how they built it, give advice, give feedback, and post growth photos. Everyone seems to really love that kit after buying it, so I went that route. Plus, since I have an engineering degree, it made my inner nerd super happy to be using my circuits knowledge and getting to solder, haha!
  17. FeliciaLynn

    FeliciaLynn Supporting Member

    So that's actually happened with my cat before believe it or not. My tank usually has a lid on it because I know how nosy my cat is, so its usually not a problem. But when I was first setting up the tank, I had just added the sand and the rock scape and was in the process of adding my 30 gallons of water, so I'd taken the lid off while I worked. I turned my back for one minute to get the next bucket of water and I turn back around and my cat Lily is standing up on top of the tank balanced on the thin black rim. I was thinking this is not going to end well right when she decided to walk along the rim and instead slipped and fell right in the brand new tank that was 3/4 full with water. She came flying back out of the tank trailing salt water all over my apartment and it took about a week to filter all the cat hair out of the brand new tank water, haha!
  18. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Engineering degree, circuits knowledge, and you haven't soldered before?! :p

    What engineering, out of curiosity?
  19. FeliciaLynn

    FeliciaLynn Supporting Member

    Haha, I know right? I couldn't believe I hadn't had to solder something at some point. I have a degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Florida and I'm working on a PhD in the same area at UC Berkeley right now. My research is on biomaterials, specifically polymer based scaffolds for delivery of stem cells to damaged tissues for tissue regeneration, so I don't get to do much of the classical engineering things like soldering. I spend most of my time doing polymer chemistry and cell culture, but I love when I get a chance to do really hands on DIY stuff that uses my basic engineering knowledge.

    Oh and TAP plastics is great. I've had them make multiple things for my tank. I'm surprised I hadn't thought to have them make a box for my drivers and dimmers. I may have to go get one made now. Thanks for the idea!
  20. FeliciaLynn

    FeliciaLynn Supporting Member

    Oh, and about your concern over coverage with the RapidLED kit its definitely enough wattage since its 120 watts total. I've got 108 watts over my 30 gallon (36"Lx12"Dx16"H) and I don't run them at full power. I'm not sure if that fixture is long enough though since you've got a 40B which is the same width as my tank. I've got my LEDs distributed over 2 15.8"x4.7" heatsinks. That way the LEDs are spread out over a wider area. I have a feeling that RapidLED kit would be better on a more square shaped tank. In order to get coverage on your wide tank you'll have to lift it way up off the surface of the water, which of course will lose some power. You might be able to change out the optics on those LEDs to get a better spread though.

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