It’s back! It’s January and that means it’s time for our annual jaunt down LED memory lane with the 2013 Reef Builders LED Showdown — so let the haters hate and the photon geeks rejoice. We’ve have a lot of fun putting together this informal way to figure out what was the most intriguing LED light released in the wild this past year. Sure it would be great to have a huge lab where we could line these all the lights and put them through the paces to find the best-of-the-best, but that is impractical and nearly impossible to do. Instead we have put together this bracket showdown and are asking you, the reader, “Which LED fixture released last year excites or intrigues me the most?”
This isn’t all about how many phontons the light pushes, how many or what kind of LEDs are inside, the overall price, performance or any other variable, this is about what excites and interests YOU! If its because you like shiny black cases over brushed aluminum or two colors vs. RGB or just because you like the name — that’s fine, just vote and let your voice be heard. What will the winner earn? Nothing but bragging rights and title of Reef Builders LED Showdown champion for the next 12 months. This bracket is for fun and in order to keep it that way, no ballot stuffing or other trickery is allowed. If we spot it, we’re going to eliminate any peculiar votes from the competition. We will keep the first round voting open until Mon., Jan. 20 at 11:59 pm PDT.
EcoTech Radion PRO vs. LeDio RS073
The EcoTech Marine’s Radion XR30w was the winner in 2011 and since then they have released two significant offerings off the original. The EcoTech Radion Pro and the EcoTech Radion G2 are both worthy of placement over your tank and should contend again for this year’s title. The LeDio Rs073 may be small but it packs a lot of punch. With multiple colors of LED and UV, this is a great PAR38 bulb for most reef setups.
NanoBox Reef Flare/Tide vs. LeColt Luce
The NanoBox Reef Flare and Tide LEDs were on our list of top products for 2013. Why? The little lights are now being built in LED clusters of diverse, high quality diodes and in a bunch of custom colors. Also check out the LeColt Luce that is a potent looking 12W pendant from Japan with a blend of white and blue diodes.
Build My LED vs. ReefSpectrum P47
The feats of Build My LED in the last year have been stellar and we are hard pressed to pick just one to put in here. The Build My LED lights allow customization and we saw some great ideas from refugium lighting tuned to your type of macro-algae or all the advancements we covered at MACNA, Build My LED is impressing. The ReefSpectrum P47 packs in 47 powerful diodes that pump out 118W of reef energizing light. With a nice blend of diodes we’d be happy but the P47 goes a step further wrapping the fixture in carbon fiber to give it a durable and stealthy look.
JBJ Pacifica DX vs. MicMol Aqua Mini/Pro
The JBJ Pacifica DX was a big improvement over the initial iteration of the Pacifica light with 150W of LEDs with 24W of 420nm blue LEDs for supplementation and getting a full dawn-to-dusk cycle, 63W of 10,000K and 63W of 20,000K white LEDs.The MicMol Aqua Mini and Pro lights were a pleasing discovery. The eye grabbing feature of the MicMol LED lights is their stylish design which seem to borrow pages from Apple’s industrial design playbook.
Kessil A360N/W vs. Alpheus LED
Kessil was the winner last year and came up with a new series of their powerful and popular pendants this past year. Coming in a narrow beam Kessil A360N and wide angle Kessil A360W, Kessil’s new flagship LED spotlights are packing a lot more than meets the eye with the ability to daisy chain them together and take advantage of advance controls. Coming in from France, the Alpheus LED have put some serious effort into the science behind their fixtures. Spending the time to provide so many complex details of an LED fixture, a product that the manufacturer is trying to sell and make as much profit on as possible, it is nearly unthinkable in the United States.
AquaticLife Edge vs. Orphek Atlantik V2
Once known for their T5 and other lighting, AquaticLife has a couple of lights in this year’s poll. The AquaticLife Edge LED is a new strip light from AquaticLife which is aimed at general purpose aquarium lighting, with a built-in timer on its edge. Orphek has been on a roll lately and has been coming out with some significant new lights as well as updating their current fixtures. The new-look Orphek Atlantik V2 has wireless control that you can use with any Android device plus the new groundbreaking feature of the Atlantik V2 is that it will be populated will all dual chip LEDs. Each LED twin is nestled side by side under the same lens and running at half the power of their predecessor.
Quadspec V2 vs. Current Orbit Marine
The Quadspec V2 LED PAR 20 are exciting new spotlights from MarineReefLED, with a great visual appeal and pretty unique spectrums. Consuming only 15 watts these lights are meant for really small tanks or as supplemental lighting, but they should do a great job as such. The Current Orbit Marine is a simple, straightforward LED light for aquarium applications where high PAR values aren’t needed. Coming in four flavors – 8,000K, 12,000K, 445nm with UV and 460nm blue – these can be used as supplemental lighting or as your main light for your system.
Arcadia OTL-LED vs. Aqua Medic Aqua Reef
Arcadia has been producing some solid lighting option in the UK for a few years and the company has released its most robust, and versitile, all-LED fixture to date with the new Arcadia OTL-LED. Using a combination of 1W and 10W LEDs, the new OTL-LED has four channels of control all via a built-in controller. The Aqua Medic Aquareef is the latest LED fixture from the German manufacturer. Featuring a simple water proof black anodized aluminum body, and around 50 watts of LED power, along with basic controls, the Aquareef LED certainly is not a game changer in the market but should be a solid fixture nonetheless.
AquaIllumination Hydra/Hydra 52 vs. EvoLED TS
AquaIllumination killed it this year releasing the AI Hydra and AI Hydra 52 among other innovations. The AI Hydra is like the Vega without the XM-level LEDs in the center of the cluster with ‘only’ seven channels of color control on a single LED board. The Hydra 52 uses the same basic shell of the still-new Hydra but it is populated with fifty two freaking LEDs! And we’re not talking playtime LEDs either, the fifty two LEDs of the Hydra 52 are all high end Cree XTE grade for a total of 135 watts crazy power. The EvoLED TS is a new fixture from Evolution LED that incorporates a touchscreen controller to the EvoLED Color we saw earlier making it easier to deploy this light without the need for an external controller.
ELOS Planet PRO vs. Zoo Med AquaSun
The new ELOS Planet PRO LED system is a powerful light allows you to upgrade and customize the Planet PRO fixture using LED strips in white, red, blue, green and UV flavors to design your own spectrum. You can also adjust your lights by WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth directly from your Android, iOS device, tablet or PC. The ZooMed AquaSun LED HO may not have made much of a ripple but once we saw the replacement modules. The simple Aquasun LED HO fixtures can easily be modified and upgraded with replaceable modules priced around $25.
Aquatronica LED vs. ProVolitans
The Aquatronica LED is a worthy contender, jam packed with CREE LEDs, custom software and a sleek design. The saltwater fixture rocks five colors (six if you count the moonlight) including Red Cree XPE LEDs, Royal blue Cree XPE LEDs, Blue Cree XPE LEDs, White XTE LEDs, Green XPE LEDs, and Moonlight Blu chip led 0805 smt LEDs. The fixtures will be available in three lengths and two different widths. At first glance the ProVolitans LED light appears to be woefully plain, simple and with an alarming lack of apparent heatsinking but we’re glad we gave them some closer inspection at Aquarama 2013. What seems to be a simple LED light for a consumer or recreational marine aquarium hobbyist is in fact a very durable, pragmatic LED fixture which is aimed squarely at professional applications like public aquariums, very large tanks and commercial lighting applications.
EHEIM PowerLED vs. Solar Flare Micro Deep Blu
The EHEIM PowerLED Marine lights coax so much out of a 7W fixture. The PowerLED are made in an all blue Actinic flavor with an emission peak around 450nm and a PowerLED blue-white-blue version with the same blue light peak but with a little white light to balance it all out. Deep Blu eProfessional, the company better known for interesting glass aquarium designs and more recently a suite of aquarium accessories, has released a new little LED spotlight which hits a sweet intersection of price and value. The SolarFlare Micro is wee bitty LED spotlight with a 3 watt LED affixed to the end of a small gooseneck arm.
GHL Mitras 6200 vs. CherryAqua iNano
The Mitras 6200 LED is GHL’s latest flavor of their fairly young Mitras LX LED platform. Where the Mitras LX 6100 has excelled at reproducing colors that are in line with European tastes for lighting that replicates T5 lighting, the Mitras LX 6200 replaces some of the warmer LEDs with cooler, bluer LEDs that should produce a bluer colored light that American reef aquarists prefer. The CherryAqua iNano is a really cool LED fixture with a refreshing design, that up until recently was only available within Asia. The fixture rocks 10 Cree LEDs, and is rated at 18 watts including the power supply. A single fixture should be able to comfortably sustain cubes up to 40cm (16inches).
Current-USA Satellite+ vs. Aqua Medic Ocean Light Twin LED
Like the Marineland Double Bright LED before it, the Current-USA Satellite + LED striplight paves the way for a new generation of controllable, programmable LED strip lights. With four channels of built-in control for individually setting the intensity of white, blue, red and green colors, with all kinds of moon, storm, lighting and color settings, the remote controlled Satellite + LED is going to shape of things to come in entry level and high end LED lights for a long time to come. The Aqua Medic Ocean Light LED Twin is a new solid state lighting effort from Aqua Medic. Consisting of two rows of high output, 3 watt LED diodes, the Ocean Light LED Twin is an attractive aluminum lighting slab coming in four sizes. Each of these new LED fixtures have extendable mounting arms that let users adjust the overall length for easy installation on an aquarium, and adjustments for selecting the height above the water surface.
Orphek PR72 vs. Zetlight ZP3600
The Orphex PR72 is a PAR56 spotlight for use in larger and deeper tanks were smaller spotlights might fall short. The fixtures rocks 36 LEDs and draws 70 watts of power. The color spectrum of the light is rated at 16,000K -18,000K featuring a combination of 18x Whites, 14x 450nm Blues, 2x UV/Violet, and 2x Red LED chips. The Zetlight ZP3600 Pro is part of a new breed of LED lights from China which exhibit a higher degree of industrial design outfitted with higher grade LEDs and a modern set of features. The sturdy aluminum enclosure of the ZP3600 Pro is beautiful in flat white with a full body heatsink and aggressive cooling to manage the heat from 144 watts of LEDs.
AquaticLife ES LED vs. Ecoxotic Cannon
The AquaticLife Expert Series (ES) LED is packed with great features and components.The light also became stretched, literally, with the announcement of larger fixtures with very flattering price multipliers. The AquaticLife ES LED is now available in a 34? and a 46? version. The Ecoxotic Cannon isn’t new but it should did get a significant makeover. Although rated for the same 100 watts of light using a multichip LED package, the Cannon LED Floodlights are a completely different animal. Gone is the Cannon-style form factor with highly concentrated light source from a tiny multichip and super tight beam angle. Everything about the Cannon LED Floodlight is different from the heatsink and form factor to the multichip LED, driver and light spreading lens. The only thing that is familiar about the Floodlight Cannon is the 100 watt power rating.