It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard any news from plasma lighting but the the Plasmalyte Sunstream 400 is fixin to lodge it firmly back in your ear. Reef Builders has the privilege of being first to announce the next generation of electrode-less metal halide lighting with better color rendition, higher lumen output, longer lamp life and best of all, very aggressive and actually competitive pricing.
The first LIFI plasma fixture introduced to reef aquarists was that gaudy, boxy aluminum block of a light from Stray Light Optical approaching four years ago. A lot has happened in the 48 months since and what started as a bright, yellow colored light with an imbalanced spectrum and an exclusive $1200 price tag is now a lot more reasonable.
The Sunstream 400 is more than a second generation lighting fixture with improvements and efficiency gains fought for on every front of the new product. The new cast aluminum housing is more solid and compact than before with much better passive heat management across the body. The reflector has been improved as well with the fancier Sunstream 400U having anti reflective coated glass and silver lined reflector for up to 95% efficient optical system.
The best new component of the Plasmalyte Sunstream 400 fixtures is the next generation of plasma inside, the STA 42-02, which is brighter by more than 3000 lumens per light, with better color rendition, less green/more UV and longer lasting than before. But let’s be real, the real spec that will get everyone truly excited about this iteration of metal halide lighting is the price; only $499 for the Sunstream 400R or $569 for the Sunstream 400U which has a slightly better optical package, 1,500 more lumens and comes in your choice of powder coated color.
We specifically asked since many of you are already itching to find out, and yes, there will be 0-10V input for external control via Apex or GHL controller. Happy now? I bet you are because we are certainly pleased and we’re super thrilled to see a new lighting component reaching levels of technological maturity high enough to compete with and compliment LED lighting over larger, brighter reef aquariums.
The projected availability of the Sunstream 400 series of LIFI plasma lights is expected to be around March 2014. Plasmalyte has set up a Kickstarter campaign to get these lights made but they’ll be making them no matter what, it just helps to bundle the whole launch into a crowdsourced project, as we have seen several times in the last few weeks. Oh and if you’re looking for something a wee bit brighter, there’s mention in there of a Sunstream 750 which will be using the larger and even more efficient Luxim STA 75 first teased about one year ago.
Since its debut in the marine aquarium hobby, Plasma lighting, essentially an iteration of metal halide lighting without the electrodes, has been relegated to being on the sidelines of consideration for reef tanks, with the occasional pioneering reef tank in private reefers homes or in public aquariums. The performance was almost there but the price wasn’t even close. With the Sunstream 400 and all the features its packing for a mainstream price, Plasmalyte is all but assured of making a big splash for plasma lighting over marine aquariums in 2014. [Kickstarter]