Matt continues his review of the Ecoxotic 25 gallon LED aquarium which will be the future home of the Lightning Maroon Clownfish. Following up on his unboxing of the stand and the tank, here is Matt’s take on the 17″ Panorama LED fixture from Ecoxotic.
As if Ecoxotic’s 25 Gallon LED Aquarium tank and stand weren’t fetching in their own right, it is truly the Panorama LED Fixture that catches the attention of most everyone who sees it. For me, it was the simple premise of modularity. One of those big objections to most LED fixtures in the past few years is the notion that if an LED goes out, you’re sending the entire thing back for service while your tank sits without light.
Perhaps given our universal experience with cheap LEDs in all sorts of everyday objects, we might have a heightened sensitivity to this issue. And I’ve been without lights too, and I know that going without for any more than a few days really screws up a tank. So when I learned that the individual Panorama LED modules could be removed for service or replacement, what was one of the largest objections to LED fixtures simply vanished.
The other objections to LED systems seem to have fallen by the wayside in 2010 as well. Price being one factor, which I believe the Panorama handles reasonably well. The question of whether LEDs can grow corals appears to have been answered as well. I hope to see firsthand the Panorama fixture’s success with various corals.
The Panorama LED Lightning setup comes in three configurations — wall mounted, stand mounted or hanging. The stand mount is slightly more expensive (more hardware) and is the configuration that was shipped to me for testing. You may remember in my stand writeup that I suggested the pre-drilling of pilot holes for the light stand — this is where that advice comes into play. On to the unboxing!
So let’s start with the “main event”, the 17.5 in. LED Panorama light fixture. There turns out to be a few clever uses of space in the packaging of elements for this system.
And yes, really, a picture of the bag. I hadn’t really thought about this much until I stopped and read this, and then it hit me. Indeed, the packaging has been tremendously well thought out to combine the sometimes conflicting goals of using minimal packaging while protecting very fragile contents. I actually asked Ike Eigenbrode at Ecoxotic about the packaging. It turns out that it is not just this one bag that is biodegradable, they ALL are. Of course, the heavy reliance on cardboard results in recyclable packaging too. What about the foam blocks? Well, Ike tells me that the limited foam used on the tank and stand packaging is all made from recycled plastic as well. I don’t know if that means the foam pads and blocks can be recycled themselves or not.
Let the unboxing continue…
So here is where I hit on a snag I have yet to figure out. All four thumb screws came out just fine, but when I went back to screw them all back in, the front two got a little tight. The front left (as I’m facing the fixture) actually appears to be tilted and certainly won’t screw in all the way by hand. I even tried a little WD-40, but still, nothing. I tried all 4 screws in that spot, and none go in right. Seriously, they all came out so easy, I’m not sure how, but I must have screwed something up here (no pun intended). I’ll have to revisit this if only because it bugs me – it is wholly inconsequential to the look of the fixture and does not affect performance. It’s the nittiest of nit picks. For now, on to the light stand components and construction.
Note the brackets on the back of the stand. I made a mistake, an oversight perhaps, when I set it up so that both Allen screws are facing the same way (to the right of this picture). It’s not a deal breaker, but it does make it slightly harder to tighten the ones on the left. So don’t do what I did here!
I should mention that the height of the fixture is adjustable. For the purposes of this unbox, I’ve set it up basically at the lowest point the instructions recommended; that’s so you can access and screw the hinge to the light stand supports. Once those screws are in, you can lower them down behind the aquarium and bring the lighting fixture closer to the tank. Ecoxotic recommends that the fixture be placed 3 in. above the top of the tank. DO NOT adjust the height of the light mount with the Panorama fixture on it – take the light off first! One last tip – do not use the lowest setting on the stand mounts without carefully testing it first. On my setup, the hinge mechanism barely comes into contact with the back glass edge at that setting – it’s a missed clearance of perhaps only 1 mm. Given this “too close for comfort” setting, my test aquarium will be running at the second to lowest position (it’s at the third or fourth lowest in the image below)
And seriously, that’s it. Once the light stand was attached to the aquarium stand, the light just slides onto two support arms. The back is articulated, so you can easily raise the lighting fixture and prop it up like the hood of your car. You can clearly see the four Panorama LED Modules above.
So let’s talk specifications. The lifespan on the LEDs is 50,000 hours — theoretically 11 years if you’re running them 12 hours per day. Bottom line, “bulb changes” are no longer part of the equation. Your T5’s and Metal Halides may have cheaper initial costs, but in bulbs alone, you may quickly meet up with the initial investment in a Panorama fixture after only a couple years.
LED-wise, each Panorama unit (water resistant by the way) contains nine 8,000K white LEDs and three 460nm Blue LEDs (side note – I’m testing one of the last few Generation 1 Panoramas. The second generation of Panorama fixtures are now shipping with eight 8,000K and four 460nm Blue LEDs in each module). With internal reflectors, the light all goes where it’s supposed to (the tank). The Panorama fixture comes with an additional 453nm “Stunner Strip”, a 6W modular LED that we’ll deal with later on (it’s the final puzzle piece).
Where these LEDs are driven at just over 1W, the total wattage per Panorama module is 13W. Thus, my four-unit system is running off only 52W of electricity. There are no cooling fans to fail either (and fans do tend to fail over time). Now, that should stop you in your tracks alone, because my old JBJ Nanocubes with twin 50/50 Power Compact Florescents suck up 72W. The “quad” Nanocube eats up 105W with at least one vendor bundling this with a chiller! The “HQI” version consumes almost three times the Ecoxotic LEDs, running at 150W…and remember, you have cooling fans (four of them) as well. Even the newest LED Nanocube still runs at 87W of power consumption if you run the daylights and “dawn/dusk” on together. OK, so even if I toss in the Stunner Strip running that as well, it’s only 58 total watts for the Ecoxotic Panorama 17.5 in. fixture. That’s at least 33% less energy consumed when compared to the JBJ LED Nanocube.
For those of you who want hard numbers, “Photon Man” Sanjay Joshi applied his light-testing practices to the Panorama in a LED fixture comparison. Sanjay’s PAR measurements for the Panorama Fixture were taken at 18 in. and 24 in., with PAR values at 60-70 peaks at the 18 in. distance. That’s pretty respectable for a fixture that tested out as consuming 49W.
What is really important to think about is that these readings are 18 in. away from the fixture. The actual Ecoxotic 25 gallon cube is only 18 in. tall, and my lights aren’t more than 5 in. from the water’s surface. It’s safe to say that closer to the light you’re going to have higher PAR readings, and most life in this tank is going to be significantly closer to the light than 18 in. However, many of you can ignore this entire paragraph and the implications of Sanjay’s research. You don’t have to interpret, research, and guess — just use Ecoxotic’s Panorama-based handy dandy Coral Planning Guide Map!
What I can’t tell you yet from firsthand experience is how well the Panorama grows coral – that’s going to take some time. But I can tell you that if the tanks I’ve seen run by John Ciotti, Kevin Kohen and Sanjay Joshi are any indications, the Panorama has all the umph you’re going to need.
Perhaps the most beautiful part is that Stunner Strip thing-a-ma-bob I mentioned, because you can use Stunner Strips to add supplemental lightning to further tailor the look and light output as you need. Heck, Ecoxotic tells me there is even enough room that you can add up to 3 Panorama Modules within the 17.5 in. fixuture if you really wanted to. But truthfully, those Stunner Strips have me thinking. Ecoxotic says you can fit three but based on my math, the number is closer to six or possibly even nine, maybe even 11 (yeah, seriously, 11 more stunner strips) provided of course you have the transformers and hookups to power them.
In the fourth and final unboxing installment, I’ll show you the Ecoxotic Stunner Strip. Until then, bask in the brilliant glow of the Ecoxotic Panorama fixture with one more picture from my “water testing” night!
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