The SolarMeter from EconLux is the first new light measuring tool to ‘compete’ with the near monopoly that Apogee’s PAR meter and UV meter have in the aquarium world. We use the word compete in quotations because there are two very big fundamental differences between the EconLux SolarMeter and the Apogee PAR meter. The first one is that the EconLux SolarMeter does not have a remote waterproof light sensor, it has an built-in sensor and it isn’t waterproof so underwater measurements are out.
The other big change is that unlike Apogee’s true PAR meters which measure light in µE/m²/s, the EconLux SolarMeter measures light in µW/cm² – simply put the Apogee measures the number of photons within the PAR spectrum and the SolarMeter measures the power of light in a range of spectrum. You may have noticed that many different LEDs are rated in lumens @ a given current, except for the really blue, royal blue and UV LEDs which are rated in mW @ a given current.
So why should you care? Well it is becoming to be understood that the high energy visible light with smaller wavelengths than 470nm are not well read by our PAR meters, yet we American aquarists love to use a lot of blue light, and increasingly a little bit of UV light. If we are really going to understand the effect of high energy blue and UV light on our aquarium corals we need to start measuring these wavelengths of light in mW, not in units of PAR.
If you want to understand more about UV light in aquaria here’s a great primer article by Dana Riddle. Pricing on the EconLux SolarMeter is unknown at this time, but we’ll dig it up soon enough. [EconLux SolarMeter]