I'm sure there are many people on here that have much more knowledge than myself regarding the specifics of LED
aquarium lighting. Mine is limited to the fact that it is really expensive but totally cool.
However, today I attended a lighting technology seminar for those in the construction industry. I am an Electrical Engineer and work for a design/consulting firm, and attended because many of our clients always ask about LED
lighting, since it seems to be the rage these days. The speaker was Stan Walerczyk of Lighting Wizards, who is well known in the lighting industry. He spoke about most major types of commercial interior and exterior lighting technologies - Incandescent, Linear Fluorescent, CFL, PL (power compact), HPS, Metal Halide, Induction, and, of course, LED
. He spoke generally from a neutral standpoint as he specializes in lighting retrofits and is not an extension of the LED
industry by any means.
I found his presentation extremely interesting, and while it was geared toward the commercial lighting industry, it gave me great insight into the future of aquarium lighting with respect to LED
technology, while relatively new, will dominate the industry in just a few short years. For instance, street lighting and parking lot lighting has typically been HPS or MH
, usually 250 or 400W or higher. Right now, the cost of LED
lighting is such that it actually makes more sense to use it in lieu of 250W MH
or lower, and withing a year, 400W LED
will be lower than MH
. Plus, if you've ever seen a street lit up with LED
, you'll notice it is very uniform.
lighting is currently increasing the lumens/watt output by double every year, and the cost is going down about 25% each year. What is currently (and realistically) projected by the industry is that by 2015, LED
will achieve an astounding 200 lumens per watt, and THEN the technology will begin to slowly level off, meaning it might take another 5 years to reach 300 lum/W. Currently, fixtures that will be hitting the shelves (some already have) range from 40-65 lum/W and some as high as 80.
Fixture cost is expected to be halved in just a few year. Now typically aquarium lighting technology remains higher cost because it is specialized, but I would expect that within just a few short years, the cost of a truly effective aquarium lighting system, comparable in intensity and effectiveness to T5HO, MH
, etc, will be a slam dunk.
LEDs also do not lose lifespan when being shut on and off, are very easily dimmable, and while they do (on average) lose lumen output over time, some manufacturer of commercial lighting are incorporating sensors into the fixture that compensate by starting the output at a lower that maximum level, then increasing the output accordingly as the lumen output drops to compensate, giving you constant lumen output over expected life.
This is just a small portion of the information I absorbed today. I just wanted to pass this on to those of you who have not considered it as a possibility due to the cost. Keep an eye on this technology, because it will far surpass any other type of lighting system, sooner than you think.
I think this is particularly exciting for reefkeepers, because the potential is there to specifically highlight different areas of your tank with different light settings using one fixture - and change it whenever you want. You can spotlight your corals, rotate frequencies to give a true ocean-wave appearance, you could probably even simulate a storm in combination with a wave maker, lightning strikes and all - if you wanted to!!
Actually, I'm pretty sure fixtures like that are available, but cost an arm and a leg. But for the standard no-frills fixture, this is going to be available very soon. However, homework is necessary. This was stressed very much for commercial lighting. The Department of Energy is implementing strict standard for commercial and residential LED
lighting, because of the debacle in the 80s and 90s caused by T8 ballast issues. Don't go cheap, don't buy on impulse, and know what you're buying!