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Old 12-19-2012, 12:51 AM   #1
Tkh
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Lighting is incredibly confusing for me!

OK, so... help? I would like to eventually establish a reef tank (although will be starting as fowlr as this is my first tank.) I am looking into getting a 40g tank, give or take a few gallons. I am trying to piece together everything that I need to buy, so that I can start pricing it all and then pricing the project. Finally, I'm also pretty sure I'd like to go the LED route.

What am I supposed to look for...? I hear the name brand Sol AI being used, I've seen TaoTronics, although also seen plenty of threads regarding quality issues to make me consider perhaps saving hassle by going with a more established brand. Maybe I am wrong here (if so, please correct me!)?

Umm, really though, I am completely confused on power? light color? Which ones offer programmable features, and how important this is? I'm fairly lost - and hoping someone can point me in the right direction. Oh.. and maybe also where to buy some ultimately? My LFS estimated a set would cost $250 without getting specific.

Thanks!!
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Old 12-19-2012, 02:17 AM   #2
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If you are going LEDs, here are some things might help you choose.
1) Brand of LED chips (CREE/Bridgelux/EPISTAR/ Luxeon ES etc)
CREE and Luxeon ES are the top brand of LED chips and the cost is overall higher than any orther brands.
Luxon ES has better PAR output due to higher current go thru the chip and CREE is overall high performance in White and Blues.
Bridgelux is about 70% the cost of those top 2 brands but about 80% of their efficiency. For example, 60-75W CREE fixtures is about the same PAR of a 120-144W Bridgelux fixture when using the same current. However, Bridgelux does come with other colors such as green, red and orange etc.
EPISTAR is a more generic brand of the LEd which made in Taiwan and that is what most no name brand low cost LED fixtures you find on ebay is made of.
which is a lot more cheaper but you do sacrificed a lot more efficiency compare to the two top brands.

2)Cost of the fixtures, you will need to play around with budget vs functions.
brand name fixtures like ecotech Radion ($695? ) and AI ($399 for Sol and close to $600 for vega?)both are great and comes with many special functions such as wireless connection to PC and add-on controller which can create sun rise sunset and maybe cloudy and lighting options. A lot of these are truly gimmick in my point of view. There aren't any Metal Halide has that kind of functions and yet people are doing fine under those fixtures. Paying extra $200 more just for those options could be way too much to spend.
If you go with some generic one like TaoTronic, Reefbreeder or the one I carry. Then you usually will save about $200 to $300 compare to those brand name one, however, you don't really get the full efficiency of the brand name fixtures In a long run. You also can do DIY, things that you will need to consider are such as, cost of heat sink, cost of cooling fan, how would you be able to mount it on your tank, would you make a canopy to place it in it? or would you just leave it lose wire around.

3) Color combination.
If you are running only Blue and White, make sure you have at least warm and Cool white and Natural white, because the Natural white will provide Red and Green Spectrum for your human eye and making the coral better in coloration. (no help for coral growth)
If you running only cool white, then you have to supplement with red leds and orange or even UV.

If your LFS is selling you something for $250, it sounds like a good deal, but it would be great if you can list what they suggest.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:04 AM   #3
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Taotronics name is thrown around to cover a whole lot of different Chinese LEDs, I just call them Chinese black boxes. But I have used a couple and so have a few friends and I haven't heard of any issues. For the money they are tough to beat. If you get one year of use out of them vs a fixture with 2-4 t5ho's and a 250w halide, you'd probably be ahead, considering the increase in heat, electricity cost, and the bulb change you would need at the end of that year.

Nice Chinese black boxes can be had for $100-$200 shipped.
It's very hard to build your own 120w led with that budget.

I bought one from eBay, and another direct from china.
I am about to buy five more from china.


Here's mine 120w dimmable , with optics, and timer, for less than $200 shipped, I could have done without the timer and got the fixture for less than $150 shipped, and then without the optics, and would have been about 135 shipped., without dimmers about 100 shipped.

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Old 12-19-2012, 08:53 PM   #4
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Thank you Oyf and Saratj! Both help put a few things into perspective for me. Oyf, I've seen your replies around quite a bit, so I appreciate that we have an active sponsor here that provides actual advice too.

I do have a few more questions. How powerful do I need these lights to be for say a 35 - 40 gallon tank, 12 - 24 inches deep? How many fixtures would I need to span a 24 - 36 inch tank? These are probably fairly mundane and basic questions, but, this is all completely new to me.

Given that you are an active supporter and poster on here, Oyf, I would be curious in picking up a set from a.Q., but the different options up on the site confuse me to be honest. What is the difference between the a.Q. simple, a.Q. pro, a.Q Pharos, and the Zetlights? Finally, how long will the a.Q. discounts be available for? I will likely not start my project until the new year - but would like to accurately price it all.

Thanks again!
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:12 PM   #5
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Thanks, I am here not only because I am selling my products but more important is to share my exp with others.
I try to make my comment and advice as honest as possible. What I believe is even I hard sell my light and someone got it but not sure what they are getting, I might end up losing more business. Please let me know if you guys find my opinion is incorrect as I am alos still learing as all of us are that this hobby is so complicate and there are thing sto be learn every day.

As far as for the options on my site, I can PM you to run thru each product and their pros and cons, and you might even find none of my lights fit your needs which is fine. But at least I will help you choose a right fixture for you even if its from some other companies.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:20 PM   #6
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I'll follow up in a PM, thanks again Oyf!
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