Ecotech Marine and AquaIllumination have been on parallel paths in their development of marine aquarium products for some time and with their newfound synergy from the recent merger, they have simultaneously released comparable reef aquarium LED lights. The Hydra 26 and Radion XR15w Pro are very similar in some ways but still have distinctive features that set them apart depending on their application.
The size and form factor of both the Hydra 26 and Radion XR15w Pro are right about the same size, both are an inch and half thick, with the Radion R15w Pro being a seven inch square and the Hydra 26 being a seven by five inch rectangle. The Hydra 26 has twenty-six LEDs spread across two clusters and seven channels while the Radion XR15w Pro has 21 LEDs in a single cluster and six channels of color control.
Both of the Hydra 26 and radion XR15w Pro have an extremely similar mix of LED colors in cool white, blue, deep blue, red, green and UV LEDs which are powered to a near identical level of intensity at 85 watts for the Radion and 90 watts for the Hydra 26.
The real fork in the road between the smaller Hydra and Radion is in their choice of lenses. The Radion XR15w comes stock with a 120 degree TIR lens and also has an included 90 degree lens for focusing the output a little bit. Meanwhile, there is only an 80 degree lens available for the Hydra 26 and no other beam angels are available, but they do have a diffusing texture on the surface of the lens to encourage better blending.
The other major difference between the Hydra 26 and Radion XR15w Pro is in how they are controlled. Out of the box, the Radion XR15w Pro has a few presets that can be cycled through using the onboard press-able buttons, and intensity can be adjusted to be brighter and dimmer. Meanwhile, the Hydra 26 has no such control available in the fixture right out of the box. Either way, buyers of the Radion XR15w Pro or Hydra 26 will want to invest in the associated controllers for each platform in order to unlock the full programming and functionality of either light. At $449 for the Radion XR15w Pro and $399 for the Hydra 26, choosing one light over the other is going to be a hard decision to make. Stay tuned for our next installment comparing both lights with the lights actually on so we can better share with you our impression of the lights over real live corals.