The upcoming Seashine LIFI plama lighting fixture by Stray Light Optical Technology is definitely one of most promising new technologies heading into the trade. We had the pleasure of finding out more about this light including pricing and availability from Stray Light Optical’s president and CEO Gerald Rea.
First and foremost, this light has been evolving over the last year or so with the version we showcased in the last post being dubbed the Beta 2 model with the newest version being the Beta 3 shown in the image above this post. With the final beta versions of this light rolling out this month, the Seashine should go into larger production in February with availability and a more formal launch set for the beginning of March. The company is evolving the light to be more appealing to our aesthetic and if all goes as planned, we hope to see the first production level Seashine lights at ReefStock. Pricing and plenty of more information after the break.
So what is a light like this going to set you back? We were anticipating a large figure that could potentially price itself away from the hobby but were pleasantly surprised to hear the initial retail price of this full unit to be around $995 USD. This price includes either an analog dimming control on the module on attached remotely on cord.
Also available for commercial applications is a programmable logic controller (PLC) terminal block hookup to tap into existing lighting control units. At this point, they do not directly support the main aquarium controllers on the hobby side (Digital Aquatics, Neptune, GHL Profilux) but I’m sure with a little ingenuity and programming skills, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to make the Seashine “play nice” with your existing controller to tap into fully automated lighting features.
Take into consideration the costs of higher end fluorescent, metal halide and large-scale LED fixtures, under $1,000 is a great price. According to Rea, expect the price to go down as the economy of scale to produce these lights increases not only in the aquatic side, but industrial and other outside lighting applications adopt the LIFI technology. As orders come in for more units, whether it is for an aquarium, warehouse, architectural or street lighting, the production costs and supply costs will go down and we’ll see that savings passed on to the customer.
Another added benefit Stray Light Optical brings to the table is their extensive experience in industrial lighting and building lighting units that withstand the rigors of weather and time. While the plasma bulb itself is rated for 25,000 hours (approximately six-plus years at 12 hours a day) of use, the lighting unit itself is rated for well over 100,000 hours of use. Rea believes this to be a “lifetime” fixture for hobbyists. We can only imagine how many lighting units are out there that have been in use for over 25 years!
The 5,300K bulb itself produces light very similar to the natural sunlight we see out on the reefs in nature. Dimming it down to the threshold of 20 percent will give a more blue light with plenty of punch left over to give the corals the light they need. While many hobbyists are turned off by the 5,300K temperature rating of the light, Rea points out:
“There is a lot of discussion about the color being wrong for aquariums,” he says. “I disagree with this, but hobbyists will have to see for themselves. It never looks yellow in any of the tanks we have tested in. All the way from full bright to 20 percent, aquariums look amazing with beautiful colors and bright fish pop out.”
[singlepic id=2091 w=320 h=240 float=right]In our last post on the Seashine, we included a graph showing the PAR output of the lamp and Rea added some insight to put his in better perspective. The PAR graphs we included are more of the convolution of the photosynthetic response with the spectral output of the lamp showing how well things like kelp will grow. We have included a normalized graph of the spectral response with the sun as a baseline, more similar to what we tend to see in analysis of other bulbs we use in the hobby.
Just by looking at the photo of the light installed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium exhibit (click on picture to view full size), you can really see the amazing “pop” of colors most notably in the yellows, reds and oranges—colors we typically don’t get to experience to their full potential in the heavy blue-centric lighting we’ve come to know in the hobby.[singlepic id=2089 w=560 h=420 float=center]
So where are you going to be six years from now when you need to change the bulb? Don’t sweat it, the process right now just calls for the removal of four screws to pop out the reflector to get access to the bulb. Also, look for this to possibly get easier down the line as the product evolves. So how much should you be stocking away for a new bulb? With the technology still in its infancy, a replacement would probably run you in the neighborhood of $150 or so, quite comparable to the costs of higher end MH and the costs of changing out six decently priced 54W T5 bulbs. Don’t be surprised to see this price also shift downwards as LUXIM manufactures more of these bulbs.
The reflector units aren’t the bulky versions we’re used to seeing with Mogul-based metal halide lights but do contain high-quality MIRO Silver maximizing the reflection of any stray light back into the tank. Rea and the company are looking for any input we may have as hobbyists to make the unit more useful and pleasant to look at, so feel free to add your input in the comments below.
Overall, our impressions and hopes for this light are very positive. We are looking forward to seeing these lights first hand and getting them put through their paces in a realistic hobby environment to make a full evaluation. The entry point is priced well for a lifetime investment and we look forward to exploring this technology more in the future.
Anyone looking to purchase a Beta or early production model, can contact Stray Light Optical directly by emailing [email protected] for full details and an accurate price quote. Rea notes there are approximately 20 units available before the full-scale launch hopefully coming this March. If you happen to be visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium, keep a look out for the lights as they should have just under 40 units installed in the near future.