It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard of news in the development of metal halide aquarium lights so the PacificSun Helios is the first new metal halide in a long while that makes High Intensity Discharge seem sexy again. The PacificSun Helios is a pendant-style metal halide fixture with an eight-sided reflector which is optimized for use with 250 and 400 watt metal halide lamps with the E39/E40 mogul base single ended socket. The Helios metal halide fixture is made to be paired up with one of three PacificSun metal halide ballasts and this is where the Helios gets fun.
The R1 ballast is your typical on off metal halide ballasts, albeit one with electronic internals and a two year warranty. The R2 ballast has a manual dimming knob that allows adjustment between 50, 75 and 100% power intensity, the likes of which we’ve seen from several dimmable metal halide ballasts already, but the top tier ballast for the Helios is where it’s at for 2011.
The R3 ballast was specifically designed for PacificSun and it has wireless communication and “fulling dimming capabilities” for sunset and sunrise simulation and attenuation of PAR values. The R3 will buddy up with an external wireless PWM controller to do it’s untethered tricks and it will be controllable by PC/tablet/Andoid phone.
Official release date is still tentative but the prices won’t be too bad, starting at 350 Euro for either the 250 or 400 watt R2 ballast, but US pricing still has to be worked out of course. With so many aquarists now looking to ditch their T5 and metal halide replacement routines for LEDs, those in the market for more light or bigger tanks now have less reason to necessarily get an LED light since metal halides are still an excellent source of efficient lighting with broad spectrum light output including UV.