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heckeng
11/05/2011, 10:22 AM
Yesterday I installed 3 AI Sol Blues on my 90 gallon Zoa/Ric tank. They have taken the place of a 2x250w and 2 54w T5 Maristar MH fixture. I was using Phoenix 14k bulbs which are fantastic color-wise. I would have never made the switch as I was completely happy with my current bulb combination of Phoenix and ATI true actinic bulbs but on a trip to Florida and saw a cube that a local shop had set up using a single AI Sol Blue. I was shocked at the colors and fluorescense that the corals had in that tank. So. . . I ordered my Sols and took down the Maristar. If the Sols prove to be a good investment, I will sell the Maristar and my collection of 4 sets of bulbs that I used to determine what color/bulb I liked the best. That is an annoying prospect but If I am happier with the tank, I won't mind it too much I think.

They were all packaged well when I unpacked them. I got the 36" rail for the 48" tank as well. I was aware through my recent reading load on RC that some people didn't like the hanging fixture and that the perceived light level is deceiving on these units. Knowing that, I assembled the rail system which was a pretty decent seeming design in all honesty. My only two suggestions to them are that I would rather have metal end caps instead of the plastic, even though the plastic does the job and looks fine. And, I think there should be some sort of built-in shop in the end of the rails to eliminate the potential for a light module to slide off of the rail unintentionally if you are adjusting the rail etc. This did not happen to me but I could see it being an issue. To act as a safety device, after zip-tying all of the cables neatly in place behind the back rail, I also added a tie to the ends of the rear rail to make it impossible to remove the light modules without removing the zip tie.

Once I fired up the lights, I was amazed at the light output potential. I quickly ramped things down though as I know these things have a tendency to fry corals on high levels. The controller was confusing for about 10 seconds, then it all made sense. The amount of control and flexibility in these lights and the controller is unbelievable. I will not miss my duo of staged mechanical/electrical Home Depot timers that would turn on the various lights from my MH fixture. The ramping feature is also awesome, so instead of lights coming on all at once, you can have them ramp up gradually like would happen naturally through the day.

I dialed the lights in initially at 30% W, 35% B, and 35% RB. That should be a power consumption of only around 70 watts. I figured I would be more than safe with these numbers since I was coming off of 600Watts of Phoenix 14k bulb/ATI T5. I know light output is completely different from wattage, but it's hard not to try and compare wattages even a little. I was wrong though. I watched the tank pretty heavily just for this sort of thing and one light yellow colony of zoas directly under but 14" under the water level started to expel some of their zooxanthella in little streams out of their mouths by the late afternoon. I then dialed back the lights to 25%/30%/30%. We will see how that goes today.

After playing with these lights a little, I think the reason the bleaching happens with these LEDs is actually from two sources. The first is that they are so focused. Even at 10-12 inches above the water surface, I am right on the edge of getting any light spillage over the tops of the tank, but I really don't get much if any at all at this level, so ALL of the light they LEDs put out goes into the tank. The second source of the bleaching I believe is from the enormous amount of blue spectrum from the Blue and Royal Blue LEDs. These diodes are the ones that make the colors fluoresce and look so amazing. These diodes also put out SOO much more intensity than with T5 supplementation and MH bulbs I was using. I have used T5 and PC on tanks before as well and liked them because of the great coloration you can get with them including the fluorescence, but in my opinion, the T5 and PC bulbs still don't put nearly the same amount of light on the corals compared to the LEDs.

One note on the coloration of the white LEDs as well. I was expecting a cool blue light from them because they are reportedly "cool white" diodes, but it is actually more yellow and green, especially on the higher percentages. I expect them to bring out more of the warmer colors than I had originally guessed once I can get the output a little higher and don't need to worry about burning the corals.

I took some pictures, but I can not get my camera to capture what things look like at all. There is far less shadowing than with my 2 MH bulbs, simply due to having basically 3 point sources of light that are 5" x 12". For what it is worth, take my word that the colors of almost all of my zoas and ricordia have improved with the only possible exception being 2 light yellow colonies of zoas that I think will be better under more white light than the blue/white mix I have at this stage of the acclimation process. ALL of the other zoas and ricordia are exhibiting more overall coloration and variation in colors than have ever shown up before. The key to make everything work for me will be getting the white light percentage up a little higher. I will post back as I ramp things up and let you know if I get those light yellow's to come back with the higher white diode outputs.

If I can get some pictures to turn out at all, I'll post them as well.

Hagisan
11/05/2011, 10:43 AM
Thanks for sharing the review. I am also happy with my AI thus far. Been trying to get pictures, but I need to learn more about my camera. They all turn out way too blue.

chadfarmer
11/05/2011, 10:45 AM
glad to see that you are liking them

i just ordered the balck module but already running 4 on my 200 gallon sps tank

im in ST louis, too

deepseadan
11/05/2011, 12:36 PM
I think I've found a pretty good percentage range for my sps (acros, monti's, and other misc sps) . 30% 6500k, 50% blue, and 10%royal blue. My sps don't like the Royal blue for some reason. I mainly use the rb for moonlights.

meshwheel
11/05/2011, 01:53 PM
So are any of you guys sorry you made the switch? I am thinking about changing over to them and dumping my 250 watt radium metal halide over my 34 gallon sps nano tank!

Thanks!

heckeng
11/05/2011, 02:29 PM
I think if you liked Phoenix or Radium bulbs, it is very easy to replicate that color temp with these fixtures. I believe that you can get towards a 12k Reeflux color temp if you ramp up the whites some. So far, I'm not seeing any negatives other than having to go slowly. That is with only a 2 day review though :rolleyes:

meshwheel
11/05/2011, 02:41 PM
heckeng,
I love the Radium colors! I think the AI's are the way to go. Very much so because intensities and colors are all adjustable.
Who has the best prices on them? I thought I saw somewhere they are selling now for 379.00 becasue the new Phoenix models are getting ready to launch?

Thank you PS Try to post some pics! I would love to see them!

Creetin
11/05/2011, 02:43 PM
So are any of you guys sorry you made the switch? I am thinking about changing over to them and dumping my 250 watt radium metal halide over my 34 gallon sps nano tank!

Thanks!

I am happy, Just switched myself. Long time halide user, and I really like these lights!
Colors have a nice pop!
Nice review hecking!

meshwheel
11/05/2011, 03:35 PM
AWESOME MAN! I am pretty excited to get my hands on one! Creetin, are you keeping SPS corals under yours?


Thanks!

Creetin
11/05/2011, 03:49 PM
Yes about 25% is sps I may get a couple more, But mainly lps and zoa's.

Creetin
11/05/2011, 03:52 PM
heckeng,
I love the Radium colors! I think the AI's are the way to go. Very much so because intensities and colors are all adjustable.
Who has the best prices on them? I thought I saw somewhere they are selling now for 379.00 becasue the new Phoenix models are getting ready to launch?

Thank you PS Try to post some pics! I would love to see them!

AS is offering 5% off and many will price match. AS is good to deal with so i would not worry Free shipping is also one other thing to look at. :)
You may find it better to wait till black friday sales. Dunno how good they will be but may be a good one to wait for.

meshwheel
11/05/2011, 04:14 PM
Thank you Creetin! Awesome they are made in the USA too! Man, so I will go from 250 watts down to about 50 watts max! IT's almost timne to replace my Radium bulb too. I am up to 11 hours on it!
Did you get to dial in teh exact color you like with yours?

Thanks!

Creetin
11/05/2011, 08:40 PM
Thank you Creetin! Awesome they are made in the USA too! Man, so I will go from 250 watts down to about 50 watts max! IT's almost timne to replace my Radium bulb too. I am up to 11 hours on it!
Did you get to dial in teh exact color you like with yours?

Thanks!
Yes, I Like a little more blue so its a little more blue than a phoenix 14k.
And i like to blue it up a little bit and have the royals cranked and watch the reds and greens GLOW. LOL

AcroporAddict
11/05/2011, 11:12 PM
I don't know how you guys running Sol Blues at 40-50% are not getting brown SPS corals. I found that at lower white intensities my corals browned. I run my Sol Blues at 100/100/100 for six hours daily, besides ramp up and down (12 hour photoperiod total, factory optics), and when I went to the higher intensities my SPS colors returned. I have nine on a 300 gallon.

A.G
11/06/2011, 06:44 AM
AcroporAddict
How high above water level are you installing yours?

AcroporAddict
11/06/2011, 07:48 AM
AcroporAddict
How high above water level are you installing yours?

I have mine 10" above the water line.

meshwheel
11/06/2011, 08:58 AM
There are many variable's as to why your having to run yours at 100%. Is your tank a open top? Are you using carbon in your system? Tank height, etc.
Never heard of anyone yest having to run them at 100%.

AcroporAddict
11/06/2011, 09:21 AM
There are many variable's as to why your having to run yours at 100%. Is your tank a open top? Are you using carbon in your system? Tank height, etc.
Never heard of anyone yest having to run them at 100%.

Many people with very successful SPS tanks run theirs at or near 100% intensity or a large chunk of their photoperiod.

One of the nicest SPS tanks you will see, AIs run at 100% 6 hours daily:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_LWF2mAs1U

Here, AIs run at 90%: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2029329

meshwheel
11/06/2011, 10:15 AM
You just answered your own question. SIX HOURS A DAY!!!! Try ramping them down and you could run them 10-12 hours per day.
When I get mine, I doubt I will want to clutter my tank top with additional LED's. So mine will be ramped down to run 12 hours per day.
I have been in the hobby almost 30 years and have had enough halides and T5's to know this...

meshwheel
11/06/2011, 10:21 AM
Thanks for the links! Great tanks and I have seen them both. I really love the room decor on the larger tank!

heckeng
11/06/2011, 03:46 PM
Pics:

http://img11.imageshack.us/img11/6899/topviewofsol.jpg

http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/6295/bottomviewofsol.jpg

http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/3743/fts2i.jpg

http://img560.imageshack.us/img560/3259/fts3f.jpg

http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/6927/tankleft1.jpg

http://img829.imageshack.us/img829/918/tank3p.jpg

heckeng
11/06/2011, 03:53 PM
A couple more:

http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/797/tank2p.jpg

http://img265.imageshack.us/img265/8881/tank1c.jpg

http://img708.imageshack.us/img708/7347/ricordia1.jpg

http://img46.imageshack.us/img46/7756/pinwheels.jpg

http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/2770/onthefloor.jpg

http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/4394/fragsc.jpg

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/1314/blueandrb1.jpg

None of the pics I have taken were photoshopped. What you are seeing is about 80% correct to how it appears in person (at least how my computer is showing them). What is not apparent on the pictures is the amount of fluorescense that exists. I believe the camera picks up so much more blue light that our eyes doesn't see that it drowns out the other colors? Every one of the 30 or so types of zoas shows some sort of awesome coloration that the pics don't pick up on.

The lighting still does look dim compared to my MH setup but I am only running around 30% overall brightness. Eventually I hope that will be fixed.

The pics that are actinic looking are using 30% B and 30% RB, they just don't have the white on which is surprising because when the white is on and the blue LEDS are at the same level, the tank is completely different looking as the white drowns out the blues.

And Yes, I know, the tank is a little cluttered with all of the frags etc in it. I am planning on getting rid of many of them sometime soon! So, cut me some slack on the tityness aspect of it! ;)

AcroporAddict
11/06/2011, 04:14 PM
You just answered your own question. SIX HOURS A DAY!!!! Try ramping them down and you could run them 10-12 hours per day.
When I get mine, I doubt I will want to clutter my tank top with additional LED's. So mine will be ramped down to run 12 hours per day.
I have been in the hobby almost 30 years and have had enough halides and T5's to know this...

The tanks I gave you links on are ramped up and down for a total photoperiod of around 12 hours a day, with a period of six hours at 100% in the middle (or 90%, depending on which tank you look at), with a 3 hour intensity ramp up before and 3 hour intensity ramp down after (12 hours total). Ramp up and down at low intensity will not do a lot for the corals from a photosynthesis standpoint. It is the high intensity period in the middle where the corals get the bulk of their beneficial light. This is similar to a metal halide photoperiod needing to be 7 hours or so to satisfy the light needs of the corals, with anything longer being just for looks without any real benefit to the corals themselves.

I do a 12 hour photoperiod, 3 hour ramp up to 100%, 100% for 6 hours, and a 3 hour ramp down, total of 12 hour photoperiod. You may not have seen it, but it is in post #14.

Frankly, I wasn't asking for advice about my Sol Blues, just commenting on how there seems to be so much talk on RC about how low you have to set the white LED intensity, but you never see posted pictures of thriving, colorful, growing SPS reef tanks running the Sol blues at 40% or similar, but you can find documentation of thriving SPS tanks using higher intensity percentages.

There are also many complaints about SPS browning r/t the use of Sol Blues, and the common thread is is that people think they can get away with using fewer units than they can, and they buy into the low intensity scenario and their corals brown out on them.

You cannot think of a single Sol Blue as a direct replacement for a 250 watt halide for two reasons. The Sol Blue PAR measurements are taken at 100% for all three LED types, and if you are running at anything less, then you are not at that equivalent level. Run your LEDS at 50/50/50 and you are at quite a bit less than one 250 watt halide. Also, the directionality of these modules makes it even harder to use that equivalency on larger tanks, unless you are lighting directly over your SPS corals. Raise the light up for better spread, and you dramatically decrease the PAR getting to your corals, which goes for halide, T5 or LED.

Your situation my be a bit different r/t the small size of your reef. What is your tank, 20"x20"x20"? A single Sol Blue might work great for your application, as you don't need a lot of spread because your tank is small. People run into trouble when they use too few modules for the size of their tank and/or the type of corals they want to keep. A 120 gallon might be fine with two modules if you have a softy/LPS tank, but try that with an SPS dominant tank and you will probably find you need 3 or 4 units to keep your SPS corals colorful if you want to place them anywhere in the tank, outside of lighting a coral island type aquascape. I've been in the hobby sine I was 12, which puts me at 37 years keeping aquariums. An old timer like you.

meshwheel
11/06/2011, 05:11 PM
AcroporaAddict,
Well yopu certianly know your stuff! More so then I with the LED's as I have never owned any!
Those are great points and well taken here! Thank you! My current tank is 24x14x18. However, I am upgrading to a 36 wide x16x30 deep bow front.
I see some guys hand them parallel to the tank. I am curious if I could get by with one on the bow front mounted long was with 70 degree lenses????
I have a PAR meter, so I can get some numbers once I get the light to compare with my old halide with coral placement.
I thought if I got it early I could hang it over my smaller 24 inch tank until I get ready for the move.
If it's not enough I can purchase another module. Are you running all sol blues over your tank?
Thank you! Great info! My ears are smoking now...................lol

meshwheel
11/06/2011, 05:15 PM
Heckeng,
Great pictures! You reef is looking very nice. I can really see the corals popping in the really blue 4th picture down! They look fabulous! I cannot wait to get mine.
Thank you

meshwheel
11/06/2011, 05:19 PM
Here's a current picture of my 34 gallon nano tank from the side. My corals are getting ready for more room.
This is under one 250 watt Radium bulb in a Coralvue reflector.
http://http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x122/65bug_01/IMG_3286.jpg
I hope the pic come out! Its been a while!http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x122/65bug_01/IMG_3286.jpg

AcroporAddict
11/06/2011, 10:32 PM
AcroporaAddict,
Well yopu certianly know your stuff! More so then I with the LED's as I have never owned any!
Those are great points and well taken here! Thank you! My current tank is 24x14x18. However, I am upgrading to a 36 wide x16x30 deep bow front.
I see some guys hand them parallel to the tank. I am curious if I could get by with one on the bow front mounted long was with 70 degree lenses????
I have a PAR meter, so I can get some numbers once I get the light to compare with my old halide with coral placement.
I thought if I got it early I could hang it over my smaller 24 inch tank until I get ready for the move.
If it's not enough I can purchase another module. Are you running all sol blues over your tank?
Thank you! Great info! My ears are smoking now...................lol

Here's a current picture of my 34 gallon nano tank from the side. My corals are getting ready for more room.
This is under one 250 watt Radium bulb in a Coralvue reflector.
http://http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x122/65bug_01/IMG_3286.jpg
I hope the pic come out! Its been a while!http://i182.photobucket.com/albums/x122/65bug_01/IMG_3286.jpg

I thought you might have had a Solana tank, which are 34 gallons and 20x20x20. Nice looking corals, BTW. All I used prior to going LEDs was Radium bulbs in a Lumenbright reflector and CV E-ballasts (400 watters). You have an SPS heavy tank, and with your upgrade to a 36" long tank, I would think you need two units. Of course, you can always try one and add a second if you need it. If I were setting up your new tank with one, I would concentrate the SPS under the area of the light, however, as you will probably see significant drop off in PAR on the L/R sides with one unit. Put your softies and LPS on the sides and front of the bow section.

AI recommends the use of a PAR meter regarding setting the LED intensities when setting up the Sol, and trying to keep the PAR of the Sol the same as he light you are replacing for your corals, at least when you first change the light out. You are right on thinking to do that. I didn't, and I should have myself.

The 70 degree optics actually cuts down on the PAR at lower levels of the tank, but gives a better spread without the magnifying glass spot burning issues some have seen. I think you are going to need the 40 degree optics it comes with stock since your tank is deep. My 300 DD tank is 28 deep, and yours is deeper than that. I have all stock optics on my nine modules. The optics are another thing you can add later if you feel you need them. I'd start with the stock setup when you get your unit.

All my modules are Sol Blues, and these are the only lights on my 300. I wanted the freedom to put corals anywhere in the tank, and nine lets me do that. I might have gotten away with six and careful placement of SPS, but didn't want to be limited by it.

Here is the AI tank size/unit # recommendation chart. For my tank, which is 72" x 36" x 28", at <12" AWL they recommend 12 modules, which seemed excessive to me. The lowest recommendation is six at >12"AWL, which didn't seem like enough (higher the fixture, the lower the PAR in the tank), so I settled on the middle of the range, which is nine. I am also mounting them a bit differently than AI recommends. Since I have top trim, my tank is cut up into three 24" x 36" sections, so I light them like that with the units mounted sideways. Pic below. AWL means "above the water line." Mine are 10" AWL right now.

http://support.aquaillumination.com/attachments/token/rrlhogp8cxkq5pw/?name=tank_rec.jpg

Maxhtic
11/07/2011, 01:52 AM
For my 63'' x 26'' x 26'' is two SOL units enough?

meshwheel
11/07/2011, 07:51 AM
AA,
Wow! Great picture and nice job hanging the lights! The light spread looks really good to me!
Well to me it looks like I will need 2 for sure if I want the end to end spread for SPS corals!
Are you happy with the results or is it still too early to tell? These are teh only LED's so far that really have me sold. Adjustability seems to be the key and sufficient PAR.
These AI's seem to excell in both departments!

Thank you

AcroporAddict
11/07/2011, 10:26 AM
For my 63'' x 26'' x 26'' is two SOL units enough?

I wouldn't think so, unless you have a rock island type 'scape and the rest is open swimming area. That's a pretty large tank. If you are keeping LPS/softies, then three, more if you are keeping SPS. This is just my opinion. I am not trying to be the de facto expert here by any means. Any advice I give is based on my experience with them only.

Take a look at the AI Unit Recommendation chart I posted above. It has the minimum at 3 at >12" AWL for a 60" x 24" tank, more for <12"AWL.

AcroporAddict
11/07/2011, 10:42 AM
AA,
Wow! Great picture and nice job hanging the lights! The light spread looks really good to me!
Well to me it looks like I will need 2 for sure if I want the end to end spread for SPS corals!
Are you happy with the results or is it still too early to tell? These are teh only LED's so far that really have me sold. Adjustability seems to be the key and sufficient PAR.
These AI's seem to excell in both departments!

Thank you

Thanks. I wanted to come down from the drop ceiling with the hangers, but there is an AC duct behind the drop ceiling, so I had to hang from the wall instead.

I'm happy with the results I have with 9 units, which is what I bought originally. I bought nine, then bought into the "less is more" hype about these units, and my corals browned. When I went back to 9 modules on my 300, I got the color back.

I think that LED lighting is a choice with some tradeoffs, which goes for any lighting choice. Halides may be the best for coral color, but have regular bulb replacements, excess electricity use vs LEDs, and heat in the tank, which in most cases necessitates a chiller, etc.

T5s have bulb replacement, heat addition to the tank, etc, but have good rendition.

Leds can provide good color, but I'm not convinced it is as good a that from a halide or T5 bulb, but it may be 90+% of it. But, LEDs have a long life, no bulb replacement, use far less electricity, do not heat the tank, and usually will eliminate the use of a chiller and the electrical consumption that necessitates as well, and give shimmer to the tank.

My experience level is a bit over 6 months at this point, so I have a long way to go, and coral colors can change slowly, so the "as good color as halide" argument is still on the fence for me, but that is what I see so far.

The dimmability feature of the AIs is a double edge sword, IMO. It is nice to be able to do, but using it has caused some folks to have brown SPS corals. What I see from my own local reef club is some folks have less expensive LEDs over their tanks with a set 1:1 or 1:2 white:blue LED ratio, like the eshine units, some without any royal blue LEDs at all, and they cannot adjust intensities it at all, and their SPS corals are great looking, as nice as halides. So in some ways, not having the ability to dim LEDs can be a good thing IMO, because these folks never had the ability to play with the intensity levels and brown out their corals.

patm09
11/07/2011, 10:51 AM
I am still trying to find a good setting for my 34g solana. I have one sol blue and I have 2 small monty frags, xenia, and to hammer coral frags. Right now my peaks are at 20 30 30 during mid day. I plan on increasing intensity by 5% every 2wks. Anybody have any insight?

meshwheel
11/07/2011, 06:35 PM
AA,
Great points! Maybe the Apogee PAR meter will help get me through that dicey stage of the game when I make the switch.
I got to go to reef-a-palooza and see Acan's LED's and I was really impressed with them as well. THey actually build their own 12K daylight or white LED bulb. And boy is it crisp looking compared to AI's white led.
I just dont like the fact that they are built in China. They looked nice, but I just trust the AI fixtures better from what I have seen so far.
Thanks

hustlah
11/07/2011, 07:04 PM
Thanks for review

Prospec1
11/07/2011, 09:14 PM
Who has the best prices on AI Sol lights?

chadfarmer
11/07/2011, 09:18 PM
aquacave use the RC5 code to give you 5% off makes it $379.00

premium aquatics had the same discount but its over

the black version of the sol comes out tommorrow

AcroporAddict
11/07/2011, 10:21 PM
I am still trying to find a good setting for my 34g solana. I have one sol blue and I have 2 small monty frags, xenia, and to hammer coral frags. Right now my peaks are at 20 30 30 during mid day. I plan on increasing intensity by 5% every 2wks. Anybody have any insight?

I also have a 100 gallon cube, 30" x30" x 24", lit by two sol blue modules, and it is an LPS/softie tank with frospawn, hammer, chalice, leather, lobos, sympodium, zoas, three RBTAs, and I have the Sol blues peaking at 50/50/50 midday. Just raised it up from 45/45/45. Either of those levels has given me good color. Hope that helps you.

SaltwaterAdict
11/13/2011, 12:03 PM
If the led's are so good why do you have to use a ton of units to achieve what 2-3 mh bulbs would?? I think it's a neat idea, but seeing people get 8-12 units over their large tanks is insane!! :beachbum:

Is there really any electrical savings if this many units are required even for a smaller 90 gallon. I see people putting on 4 units for a tank this size! What's up with that?

heckeng
11/13/2011, 06:11 PM
The coverage is why people use so many units, LEDs are simply much more directional than MH or T5 bulbs. I also like having more than I need because I can run the LEDs at a lower power level which keeps them nice and cool. Come to think of it, simply being able to adjust the power level at all is a huge advantage to me. I tried using the Lumatek adjustable wattage e-ballasts with my MH and while that did work, it also changes the color of the light output when you adjust the power level. So in addition to trying to find just the right bulb for coloration preference, if you change the wattage, you have to start all over with trying to find the right bulb color. When bulbs cost $50-$120 each, that gets pretty expensive. There is still significant electrical savings (percentage wise anyway) from MH. My old light was 600 watts, the new setup is 3 AI Sols at around 50% power, so 3 x 75 watts x .5 = 112 watts. I am saving just over 80% of my electrical usage. I was one of the lucky people who didn't need to run a chiller but I did use a small fan but I consider it insignificant. I am not worried about the $ savings, that is just a plus in my book. The real nice thing is the coloration of the corals, dimming, and the programability (ramping) in my opinion. The T5 actinic bulbs on my old fixture were good bulbs with OK reflectors and were honestly not worth a lot simply because the fixture was 12" over the tank and the light just got so diluted by the time it got to the corals, it didn't have much power left.

Many people have done this size tank with only 2 AI Sols with good success. They just run the power a little higher and generally have then running parallel with the tank instead of perpendicular like I am running mine. I agree, it seems to get cost prohibitive to get 10 AI units if you can get by using 3 or 4 MH bulbs, but you lose the rest of the benefits of LED then too.

SaltwaterAdict
11/13/2011, 08:45 PM
The coverage is why people use so many units, LEDs are simply much more directional than MH or T5 bulbs. I also like having more than I need because I can run the LEDs at a lower power level which keeps them nice and cool. Come to think of it, simply being able to adjust the power level at all is a huge advantage to me. I tried using the Lumatek adjustable wattage e-ballasts with my MH and while that did work, it also changes the color of the light output when you adjust the power level. So in addition to trying to find just the right bulb for coloration preference, if you change the wattage, you have to start all over with trying to find the right bulb color. When bulbs cost $50-$120 each, that gets pretty expensive. There is still significant electrical savings (percentage wise anyway) from MH. My old light was 600 watts, the new setup is 3 AI Sols at around 50% power, so 3 x 75 watts x .5 = 112 watts. I am saving just over 80% of my electrical usage. I was one of the lucky people who didn't need to run a chiller but I did use a small fan but I consider it insignificant. I am not worried about the $ savings, that is just a plus in my book. The real nice thing is the coloration of the corals, dimming, and the programability (ramping) in my opinion. The T5 actinic bulbs on my old fixture were good bulbs with OK reflectors and were honestly not worth a lot simply because the fixture was 12" over the tank and the light just got so diluted by the time it got to the corals, it didn't have much power left.

Many people have done this size tank with only 2 AI Sols with good success. They just run the power a little higher and generally have then running parallel with the tank instead of perpendicular like I am running mine. I agree, it seems to get cost prohibitive to get 10 AI units if you can get by using 3 or 4 MH bulbs, but you lose the rest of the benefits of LED then too.

Ok, thanks for the better understanding. I see how lowering the power decreases electrical output, never knew that. The versatility seems really nice. Neat how you can adjust to the desired color. Now the real question is do they work? Have you seen coral growth and do the bulbs last as long as they claim? 5 years seems ridiculous. Doesn't the intensity change in that
'long' of a period.

speer
11/13/2011, 08:58 PM
aquacave use the RC5 code to give you 5% off makes it $379.00

premium aquatics had the same discount but its over

the black version of the sol comes out tommorrow

I tried using this but aquacave call to tell me I can't take the RC5 discount on the AI units. They said they used to allow it but AI got mad at them so they had to stop.

Maxhtic
11/17/2011, 02:11 AM
What is the main purpose for changing the lenses to 70 degrees?

stpatrick
11/18/2011, 10:10 PM
Yes, I Like a little more blue so its a little more blue than a phoenix 14k.
And i like to blue it up a little bit and have the royals cranked and watch the reds and greens GLOW. LOL

Can you share your %s?

stpatrick
11/18/2011, 10:41 PM
I also wanted to share my placement. I have a 112 g SPS tank. 3 months old. My tank is 36x30x24. I am running my lights 11" AWL. My settings are at peak - w55 b65 rb80. I like the bluer tank as well. The video actually makes the tank look a lot bluer then is is. I thing in person its just a bit bluer then the phoenix 14k HQI. Thoughts?

Patrick


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VPAgOVaJN_E

heckeng
12/26/2011, 07:53 PM
2 month update:

about a month into the lights, and 1 month ago from this report, I switched out all of the 40degree optics for 70's to try and get more even spread and more even intensity of light output. This change actually had a similar effect on the corals as far as shock goes as when I first put the LEDs on the tank. It took about 7-10 days for the tank to get re-adjusted to the new optics but now things seem to be going smooth. I am currently at 12" above water level (and have been for most of the lights use) with 3 AI Sols perpendicular to the front glass.

I am making progress with these lights I believe. I had ramped up to 45% on all LEDS but started burning a few colonies of zoas so I changed my ramping methods. I ramped up the white LEDs to get the visible intensity a little more pleasing but lowered the blues and royals back down to 25% and started re-ramping them. The zoas definitely liked that better. I not have the white up to 60% as of tonight, and the B/RB are both at 40%. Coloration is great and intensity is starting to get away from the dim look that people complain about.

One thing I am finding interesting about LEDs and Zoas is that the initial shock of the lighting change hurt the coralsd and they acted like it was way too much light, once they became accustomed to the change, they are now actually stretching out as if they want MORE light which is why I am still ramping up the light. I still have one or two colonies of zoas that are not completely adjusted from the shock but other than them, the rest of the colonies seem to be not only enjoying the lights, but begging for more. Over the next month, I will be lowering my lights slightly from 12" above water level to around 8"-10" AWL as well.

I will try and get some new pics in the next week or so. Some of the colonies have changed due to an outbreak of zoa pox that I believe I have under control now but overall, the colonies I have left are growing again and coloration appears great.

wiz224
02/01/2012, 04:02 PM
Previously I have used 2 250w phoenix bulbs on a 75 gallon standard dimensions, would just using two of these units yield around the same results? I pretty much have a few softies, rics and zoas. I really like the look of the 14k. It is time for a bulb change and a 2 month old set of these with controller has come up for sale for $600. I am just worried about full coverage.

heckeng
02/01/2012, 07:49 PM
No, it wouldn't be the same light. I would recommend at least 3 which is what I run. $600 is a great deal for 2 units. Maybe get them and buy another when you can?

Toomnymods
03/02/2012, 10:57 PM
A couple more:

http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/797/tank2p.jpg

http://img265.imageshack.us/img265/8881/tank1c.jpg

http://img708.imageshack.us/img708/7347/ricordia1.jpg

http://img46.imageshack.us/img46/7756/pinwheels.jpg

http://img408.imageshack.us/img408/2770/onthefloor.jpg

http://img600.imageshack.us/img600/4394/fragsc.jpg

http://img84.imageshack.us/img84/1314/blueandrb1.jpg

None of the pics I have taken were photoshopped. What you are seeing is about 80% correct to how it appears in person (at least how my computer is showing them). What is not apparent on the pictures is the amount of fluorescense that exists. I believe the camera picks up so much more blue light that our eyes doesn't see that it drowns out the other colors? Every one of the 30 or so types of zoas shows some sort of awesome coloration that the pics don't pick up on.

The lighting still does look dim compared to my MH setup but I am only running around 30% overall brightness. Eventually I hope that will be fixed.

The pics that are actinic looking are using 30% B and 30% RB, they just don't have the white on which is surprising because when the white is on and the blue LEDS are at the same level, the tank is completely different looking as the white drowns out the blues.

And Yes, I know, the tank is a little cluttered with all of the frags etc in it. I am planning on getting rid of many of them sometime soon! So, cut me some slack on the tityness aspect of it! ;)

love ur tanks good job..

Big E
03/03/2012, 05:45 AM
Nice reviews guys.............one of the best & most honest threads from users without trying to defend an agenda.

SaltwaterAdict
03/03/2012, 10:16 AM
Nice reviews guys.............one of the best & most honest threads from users without trying to defend an agenda.

Are you considering taking the plunge? The more I look into LED's the more I want to give them a try. Decrease heat, electric, and they really bring out the corals colors!

What do you guys think would be a good estimate for lighting a 180 with diy leds vs ai sol blues?

Big E
03/03/2012, 11:10 AM
Right now.............no, there isn't a single unit or brand I'm excited about to any degree to make a change. I'm just fact gathering.

I've seen about 6 setups in person & am completely underwelmed right now. One of the biggest reason is because people are skimping on the number of units over the tank & the spread & asthetics suffer.

SaltwaterAdict
03/03/2012, 01:59 PM
Right now.............no, there isn't a single unit or brand I'm excited about to any degree to make a change. I'm just fact gathering.

I've seen about 6 setups in person & am completely underwelmed right now. One of the biggest reason is because people are skimping on the number of units over the tank & the spread & asthetics suffer.

Interesting good to hear your input. I'm pretty much on the same page as you right now. In time I'll make the switch, but I like my mh/t5's setup and the fact that they're tried and true.

jeff1974
03/03/2012, 09:36 PM
i just got my blue sol ai lights in im only going to run two on a 90 gallon ai said that's all i need mine where backordered and just got them wednesday im going to run 30/35/30 to start and have a ramp up time of 180 min @35/40/40 for 9 hrs a day and 5% added each week

Toomnymods
03/03/2012, 09:45 PM
Interesting good to hear your input. I'm pretty much on the same page as you right now. In time I'll make the switch, but I like my mh/t5's setup and the fact that they're tried and true.

I used to think the same thing till i seen a ai sol blue tank with zoas and sps the colors where popping like mad.. I had the same excact hqi bulbs u had with vhos and all my sps looked bland cause of the intense white light just making the corals appear foggy or not deep coloration. Well i no longer have that problem i bought 3 ai sol blues last week and couldnt be happier.. The colors have improved drasticially on every single item in my tank.. Everything looks like a "limited exition" coral now.. The not having to buy bulbs ever 6 months and saving 60 bucks or more in electric will definatly be a welcome sight as well..

Big E
03/04/2012, 04:54 AM
I used to think the same thing till i seen a ai sol blue tank with zoas and sps the colors where popping like mad.. I had the same excact hqi bulbs u had with vhos and all my sps looked bland cause of the intense white light just making the corals appear foggy or not deep coloration. Well i no longer have that problem i bought 3 ai sol blues last week and couldnt be happier.. The colors have improved drasticially on every single item in my tank.. Everything looks like a "limited exition" coral now.. The not having to buy bulbs ever 6 months and saving 60 bucks or more in electric will definatly be a welcome sight as well..

If I had a nickel everytime I have read this I'd........................have a lot of nickels:lol:

I saw a pair of AI's right next to a ATI fixture & my feelings were the exact opposite. Everything popped more in the ATI tank...................it was brighter & had more coverage.

I've looked at some of these LED tanks, go home & am stunned by how much brighter my corals & tank look under my T5's and as much as I like my T5's they don't compare to the 400w 12 Reeflux halides I was using.

I do think some of it has to do with people skimping on not putting enough LED units over their tank, but just sayin. Obviously, opinion are going to vary, but when I read about some SPS'ers going back to Halides after using LED's, it gives me pause.

I'm sure eventually we'll all be LED guys or maybe plasma or some other technology, but right now there are just too many kinks to work out & I'm more than happy to sit it out for a while & pay the $180 dollars a year it costs me to run & replace my T5's.

sahin
03/04/2012, 06:49 AM
I agree with Big E. I am yet to see a long term system (ie one year plus) running on AI's with the quality colours you see on MH and T5 tanks.

Sure your tank might look good for a few weeks after buying the LED units, but I have read so many threads with issues regarding coral colour after a while.

I have nothing against LED's, in fact I modified my ATI T5 unit into a hybrid LED/T5 system, but I would go all out LED. Not yet.

The biggest issue I have with LED's is not knowing their true spectrum spread. Sure we've seen the individual spectrum graphs from Cree etc...but what I'd like to see is the likes of Sanjay and Dana Riddle starting to produce spectrum plots of the various LED units.

I really feel like we will not progress in respect of LED's until we start to see spectrum plots from those not affiliated with the manufacturers.

Once we have overall spectrum plots of units such as AI, Radion, Acan Lighting etc, we are better informed as to spectrum and can compare to the spectrum plots done on so many halide bulbs out there.

It is quite apparant those with the appropriate lens or LED configuration, the PAR of LEDs is right there. Issues of coverage etc is left to the hobbyist to ensure they have the correct unit.

I dont know how to contact Sanjay...I did email Dana once and never got a reply. I hope someone can relay this message that we need to start seeing spectrum plots of the LED systems currently on the market so we can start to at least see whats what in respect of the spectral coverage.

Maybe we will discover something that will really lend some useful info and perhaps the manufacturers will in turn move away from just using the typical cree offering.

For sure, light is light, but the composition of that light is VERY BENEFICIAL for us hobbyists to know...The Radium bulb is probably the best metal halide bulb out there. Imagine if in a few years time a manufacturer was abe to reproduce the most of the spectral coverage of the Radium bulb into an LED unit...now that would be awesome!

NatureNerd
03/04/2012, 09:35 AM
Sahin: We do have spectral plots of the LED's used in most LED lighting systems. They confirm that the manufacturers are telling us the truth. Why would you think they would try to mislead consumers? Remember, they are not trying to sell LED's to aquarium keepers and their reputation would be shot if they did misrepresent their products. Cree data has been confirmed independently many times over, just not by people in this hobby.

The spectral output of MH is less known than any light but they work great and are widely accepted. Every bulb/ballast combo has a slightly different output. MH shift as they age and each manufacturers bulb is different even though they are labeled the same. This concern simply is not valid for LED's of known bin.

Your thoughts on appearance are valid, the look is different, flexible, and can depend on the configuration used. As far as long term use. There are several posts by folks here of beautiful tanks well over a year old. I will post more pictures of my tank next month when it hits the one year mark since switching from MH to LED.

njreefermadness
03/04/2012, 10:09 AM
I have had my 6X AI Sol Blues for just about a year now. I am running them close to 100% for several hours during the peak afternoon time. I have to say, SPS colors have never been better. I used to run 3X 250 W. Radiums and 2 6ft. Actinic VHOs on my standard 6X2X2 180 gallon. The color temperature of these fixtures is very similar to the results that I was getting w/ the MH/VHO combo I had before.

People tend to "skimp" on the number of lights on their tanks w/ the AIs due to cost. I would not use less than one light per running foot of tank length (assuming 24 inch width or less). I am running mine about 12 inches above the waterline w/ stock optics. I am thinking of converting to all 70 degree optics in the near future due to the hot spot spot lighting effect that the 40 degree optics can introduce.

One thing I find very annoying is that I am getting some extreme cross brace shadowing and that the intensity under the brace is extremely low, so my SPS under there are not as colorful as they could be. I am hoping that 70 degree optics could help "angle" some light into these areas.

One thing people fail to realize w/ LEDs is that even though you won't have to run a chiller (as often) in the summer, your heater definitely has to run more in the winter w/o your MH "heaters" running all the time. I haven't really noticed too radical a savings on the electric bill as a result of switching to the LEDs, but there definitely is a reduction.


One thing that I notice is that my oranges pop most when I am running extreme blue that is at the end of my photo period right before lights out. The orange caps and setosa really glow like crazy. The funny thing is that only some of the greens glow and others don't.

The good thing about AIs is the control you have over intensity and spectrum that you just don't get w/ any other lighting solution (MH/T5/VHO). I tend to skew the spectrum towards the blue end as I approach lights out. You can vary the output to be very white or to extreme blue, where your fish look like they are swimming in Windex. My fish have some crazy effects when the blue is turned up. My Lemon Peel angel looks almost black, my Regal angel has a very pronounced stripes and my Flame angel is almost invisible.

Well enough rambling. The bottom line is that after 1 year of running 6 AI Sol blues on my SPS only 180 things are growing great, and colors are as good or better than my MH/VHO combo that I used to run.

I know people always say "let's see some pictures of the tank". Well, even with my Nikon D60, I can't take good pics of the tank w/o the flash. Maybe I need a wide open $1,000.00 lens to do this, but photography is not my main hobby as you can see by the coin I dropped on these lights. Folks in my club can attest to the fact things are looking pretty good in my tank.

That is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Herb

sahin
03/05/2012, 09:19 AM
Sahin: We do have spectral plots of the LED's used in most LED lighting systems. They confirm that the manufacturers are telling us the truth. Why would you think they would try to mislead consumers? Remember, they are not trying to sell LED's to aquarium keepers and their reputation would be shot if they did misrepresent their products. Cree data has been confirmed independently many times over, just not by people in this hobby.

The spectral output of MH is less known than any light but they work great and are widely accepted. Every bulb/ballast combo has a slightly different output. MH shift as they age and each manufacturers bulb is different even though they are labeled the same. This concern simply is not valid for LED's of known bin.

Your thoughts on appearance are valid, the look is different, flexible, and can depend on the configuration used. As far as long term use. There are several posts by folks here of beautiful tanks well over a year old. I will post more pictures of my tank next month when it hits the one year mark since switching from MH to LED.

NatureNerd, I honestly appreciate the time you've taken to make the above post. I look forward to your tank photos. Not because I say that sarcastically, far from it; I'd like to see LED's work. I use a hybrid T5/LED and would like to go full LED. But I need to be convinced first.

I have had my 6X AI Sol Blues for just about a year now. I am running them close to 100% for several hours during the peak afternoon time. I have to say, SPS colors have never been better. I used to run 3X 250 W. Radiums and 2 6ft. Actinic VHOs on my standard 6X2X2 180 gallon. The color temperature of these fixtures is very similar to the results that I was getting w/ the MH/VHO combo I had before.

People tend to "skimp" on the number of lights on their tanks w/ the AIs due to cost. I would not use less than one light per running foot of tank length (assuming 24 inch width or less). I am running mine about 12 inches above the waterline w/ stock optics. I am thinking of converting to all 70 degree optics in the near future due to the hot spot spot lighting effect that the 40 degree optics can introduce.

One thing I find very annoying is that I am getting some extreme cross brace shadowing and that the intensity under the brace is extremely low, so my SPS under there are not as colorful as they could be. I am hoping that 70 degree optics could help "angle" some light into these areas.

One thing people fail to realize w/ LEDs is that even though you won't have to run a chiller (as often) in the summer, your heater definitely has to run more in the winter w/o your MH "heaters" running all the time. I haven't really noticed too radical a savings on the electric bill as a result of switching to the LEDs, but there definitely is a reduction.


One thing that I notice is that my oranges pop most when I am running extreme blue that is at the end of my photo period right before lights out. The orange caps and setosa really glow like crazy. The funny thing is that only some of the greens glow and others don't.

The good thing about AIs is the control you have over intensity and spectrum that you just don't get w/ any other lighting solution (MH/T5/VHO). I tend to skew the spectrum towards the blue end as I approach lights out. You can vary the output to be very white or to extreme blue, where your fish look like they are swimming in Windex. My fish have some crazy effects when the blue is turned up. My Lemon Peel angel looks almost black, my Regal angel has a very pronounced stripes and my Flame angel is almost invisible.

Well enough rambling. The bottom line is that after 1 year of running 6 AI Sol blues on my SPS only 180 things are growing great, and colors are as good or better than my MH/VHO combo that I used to run.

I know people always say "let's see some pictures of the tank". Well, even with my Nikon D60, I can't take good pics of the tank w/o the flash. Maybe I need a wide open $1,000.00 lens to do this, but photography is not my main hobby as you can see by the coin I dropped on these lights. Folks in my club can attest to the fact things are looking pretty good in my tank.

That is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Herb

Herb, if I could see your tank in person I would. The reason I say that is because I consider Radium and VHO Actinics the ultimate/elite in SPS coral lighting. AI's doing as well as the Radium+VHO combo is something I just didnt expect. That is quite something.

Can you tell me at what setting of the RB, B and W led's on your AI gives the look of the Radium+VHO?

Also, I have a Nikon D70, and I cant get a good photo out of my T5/LED even after taking custom white balance shots. It seems to be Canon is better in this department. I've seen many canon users post LED lit coral shots that look awesome. Wiht Nikon camera's the blue takes over everything.

In any event, if you can post some photos I'd be happy to see what the results are.

Thanks to both of you.

mori
03/28/2012, 07:25 AM
i was thinking on my 48x18x31 tank to get 3 ai sol blue and maybe putting it to like 5inches or so ,, i dunno, the only thing i have to figure out its with the middle bracket one of the modules will have to be put in the other side, so i dunno

Toomnymods
03/28/2012, 09:49 AM
5" height above the water will cook ur top sps unless u have the ai controller and turn down the intensity to like 40%..
Also the light optics will not have the space needed to keep the leds from spotlighting ur corals. That is why people mount them 10-12" above the tank