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zof 04-24-2010 09:39 PM

LED lights v fluorescent
A very good guide, quick question how do LED lights stack up to fluorescent lighting? Will they offer the same benefits? The possibility of a lower power bill and also not having to replace bulbs is a very appetizing solution!

Byron 04-25-2010 10:28 AM

As noted in my PM, I moved your post to start a new thread as this is a good question and there may be other members with experience. I have to date not tried LED lighting. I was intrigued by an advertisement in a recent aquarium magazine which mentioned that the particular fixture there would replicate the effect of sunlight in the aquarium with respect to the shadows, and that is something that fluorescent light cannot do.

Any members have experience with LED lighting over an aquarium?


aunt kymmie 04-25-2010 11:09 AM

I have LED *moonlights*, I didn't even know that they made LED *daylights*. If they work and also lower your electricity bill I'm interested! Anyone have them??

Byron 04-25-2010 11:34 AM

Just following up with info from the ad. Marineland make them, call them The LED Double Bright Lighting System. "An energy efficient system that doesn't require any bulb replacement." The photo shows three lines of bulbs, outer two are white, inner is blue. This suggests it may be intended for marine tanks, but it doesn't say in the ad either way. 600 lumens, eight 1w LEDs. Adjustable to fit aquaria 24 to 36 inches. "Mimics underwater effect of sunlight."

Maybe our saltwater members know something about these?

zof 04-25-2010 01:01 PM

Mikaila31 04-25-2010 08:00 PM

LEDs are tricky things. There is currently a thread in the equipment section with a DIY build. Currently this is the only affordablel way to do LED's. The 1 watt ones in the link above do not work for plants, you need to use the high powered 3 watt LED's. It is still fairly new technology. Some report that they are only slightly more effiecent then HO T5's and others say 0.6 wpg is medium light with LED's. With the larger 3 watt LED's that are more specialized you can go through their specs and they are full spectrum with various kelvin ratings available. They are expensive, even DIY ones run $200 easy for medium outputs of 30-40 watts. The manufactured ones using high powered LEDs are much less affordable. LED's can vary alot as well, you can get the high powered 3 watt ones from china on ebay for cheap, the ones most swear by in the reef area are CREE LEDs. These of corse cost $6 each for their better LEDs. You also need fans with most fixtures as these things put off a lot of heat. I've only wired moonlight LED's, the high powered ones are a little different. Either way it required a lot of research before I figured these things out. They have pros and cons, sooner or later though they will most likely become mainstream especially for reef lighting. LED's do keep getting better and going down in price as well.

Here is a good build project by a member on another forum. The issue I feel many will have with LED fixtures is they are very different from others. T8, T5, Power compacts all are very similar with cord,(starter), ballast, end caps, bulb. LED's run quite differently.

redchigh 04-27-2010 01:44 PM

Alright, I'll start out by saying I don't know anything about using them for an aquarium.....
but I have done research on using them for plants.
I would assume the same rules would apply to a planted tank.

LEDS are great for plants, because as you may or may not know, they only produce a "spike" of light on a photometer- IE if you buy a blue LED bulb, it will run cool, use very little electricity, and will produce an abundance of light in whatever its spectrum is- Blue if I remember right is 420-480 nanometers (nm).

Plants only use 2 wavelengths of light for 90% of their photosynthesis and growth- 660nm (red) and 440nm (blue). So you can save TONS of electricity, by having a custom spectrum- a flourecent light is technically almost as efficient as LEDS- it's negligible. But, if you have a light that only produces green and red, without all the orange, yellow and green that most plants don't use... well thats where the big savings come in.

Because of the way LEDs are very... "specific", they would not work very well for a full spectrum solution.
If you really wanted to make one, and have good light for your plants while keeping a decent appearence so you can see your fish, I'd say 1-1-1 ratio of 1 warm white, 1 cool white, and 1 440nm blue would work well- the colors would combine to appear balanced, but would actually be rich in the "deep blue" which our eyes can't really see, but plants thrive under. (again, this is based on research, not experiance)

IMO, I'd rather have flouros simply because that way, if you get a sudden power surge, its much cheaper to replace. LEDs are sensitive to power fluctuations, plus I've heard that if you hook them up to an electric timer (the ones with the digital clock, not the mechanical ones) they can wear out faster. Plus, if one LED in your fixture goes out, then you're stuck. You can't replace them. I've seen a DIY led light where you use telephone connectors (the little plastic plugs) and you solder an LED onto the connector, so you can swap them out when they burn out. Might try to dig it up if people are interested.

Mikaila31 04-27-2010 06:16 PM

Yes that is if you are attempting lighting with low powered LED's and even then your not going to have good results. The mixing of white and various colors of LED's is how it use to be done when people first started trying to use them for a full spectrum purpose. And yes I agree with you that if colored LED's will produce only one peak in the color spectrum. However if you go through the build thread I linked or the post in the equipment section you will see for freshwater most use only white LED's. This is because you can get white ones that do have a spectrum and it is not just one peak. You can also buy the white LED's based on their kelvin rating. Generally the spectrum of these types of LEDs is much more narrow then floros and has less wasted light that is unusable by the plant. Reefers still mix colors usually white and blue to get the right look and light.

Anyone who runs the high powered ones uses a current driver that supplies a constant current to a series and it will also stop the other bulbs in a series from burning out if one bulb dies. Also anyone running a fixture with $5 LED's will have a fuse in there somewhere for safety. IDK what you mean by "you can't replace them". Of course you can replace them. Anyone with any soldering experience should know how to replace a burnt out LED. Especially since most of the LED aquarium fixtures are DIY currently this is not hard for most. However once they do become main stream it is a whole another issue for someone not familiar with LED's to replace a LED or troubleshoot a fixture they did not build.

Also as I mentioned before the common 5mm LED's and even the 1 watt ones are no good for plants. They simply lack the intensity. That is why the high powered 3 watt ones are used. But unlike most LED's these things do produce A LOT of heat. For example, The fixture in the link runs 45 watts of LED's and has 8 fans! Every build I've found uses heat sinks and lots of fans, cuz these big LED's do not run cool...

zof 04-27-2010 07:02 PM

It sounds like it is more of a waste of money at this point then since the brighter LEDs sound less efficient then the lower powered ones. Maybe I will just target a standard CFL system, which sounds more economical at this point.

Byron 04-28-2010 10:26 AM


Originally Posted by zof (Post 370727)
It sounds like it is more of a waste of money at this point then since the brighter LEDs sound less efficient then the lower powered ones. Maybe I will just target a standard CFL system, which sounds more economical at this point.

No mention was made of the size of aquarium. Personally, I would always use fluorescent over tanks above 20g simply because they produce light across the tank with minimal heat and cost, esp the T8 (smaller diameter and more efficient than older T12) or T5 NO (normal output). On 20g and smaller, incandescent with CF bulbs is probably better.

Good information from Mikaila and others on LED's. This is certainly not something I would consider now. That's the benefit of this forum, gaining insight from others' experience.


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