‘LEDs in Action’ is a new mini series from Reefbuilders to highlight the importance and potential of LED technology for the home aquarium.
Given the perilous environment for LED fixtures in the aquarium industry, the technophile aquarist looking to brighter reef days will either have to wait a long time until patent lawsuits are resolved or they can take fabrication matters into their own hands. This post kicks off a mini-series we are writing to inform you about premade and DIY LED options for the reef aquarium. It’s one thing to wire up a single halide bulb or a handful of VHO or T5 bulbs but no one can blame the lazy DIYer who doesn’t want to wire up the scores of LEDs required to provide enough light for thriving coral growth.
It’s been a few years now since the first LED tinkerers started hitting the forums with the most preliminary results. Even if the first setups were unsightly and at times even dangerous, the street cred for being the first to keep a coral under LED lights was undeniable .The smaller and cheaper components required for the solid state lighting tech allowed it to be experimented with and we can’t tell you the number of (sometimes dubious) LED kits we’ve seen pass as commercial fixtures. Thankfully there has been a rapid growth in the cottage industry for providing DIY LED kits and now there are a number of options for anyone with the willpower to screw a panel to their canopy.
One of the most affordable and promising kits we’ve seen lately is the 36 watt panel in the image above from LEDwholesalers. This thing has no name other than “WHITE + BLUE LED Aquarium Reef corals grow light panel so we’ll just refer to it as ‘the panel’. The panel includes 18 white and 18 blue LEDs. At $155 it is tempting to think that this LED light is affordable and it is but at the end of the day it is probably putting out as much light as a dual 18” T5 fixture but at three times the price. It’s not until the end of the year once the T5 bulbs need to be replaced that you will see the benefits of enjoying a light which should theoretically last 5 or more years. In a future installment of ‘LEDs in Action’ we’ll be discussing some of the nicer LED options which seem to be creeping into view from the horticultural lighting industry, especially the mighty attractive 90W UFO LED light.