Nathan Hill checks out a light that the reefkeeper on a budget might well want to investigate.
I continue to be impressed with the contents of the APS catalogue, and this bit of kit is no exception. With six tubes and a token gesture of four LEDs built in, the unit also comes with an overtank hanging bracket with frame and wires, and even built-in reflectors.
It also has two power cables, and four switches. One cable supplies power to the LEDs and outer (blue) tubes, while the other feeds two pairs of 10,000K white lights. With the addition of two timed plugs, not included, the light can be left to come on blue/white in stages as required.
Output is praiseworthy, with PAR readings in the mid-100s at 60cm/24” (dry) and the mid 300s at 30cm/12”.
Unlike LED lights, there are few ‘hot spots’ where light focuses down, and the spread is good, as you’d expect from fluorescence. The reflectors seem to be doing well in punching any of that stray light back down into the tank.
Running costs may be a sticking point and the combined quaffing of 238w from the six 39w tubes, plus the four 1w LEDs costs around £3.50 a week — assuming ten hours with all the lights on, with the remainder running only the blue elements.
The frame that supports the unit detracts from the canopy itself. Brackets sit either end of the tank, with a bar bridging two smaller upright bars. From this, four cables suspend the light in place. It’s a little bulky, but does the job.
Cables are worth checking before suspending the light, as I found one of mine not blanked off properly and managed to snap it when applying pressure.
User instructions could be clearer and the diagrammatic guide represents a set-up slightly different to the one you get, although it’s not too hard to fill in the gaps.
At 90 x 34 x 4.5cm/3’ x 13” x 1.7” this light has a much thinner profile than a halide (and some LED’s) for the same purpose and the finish is smart enough.
Access to the tubes is straightforward, involving removing a retaining clip from one end and sliding out the Perspex cover. You’ll need to do this on receipt of the lights to remove a scratch resisting sheet, as well as get at the protective packaging inside the light itself.
The price is a winner. At under £200 for this much light, marine aquarists feeling the pinch needn’t compromise if wanting more demanding corals.
Freshwater keepers can replace the two blue tubes with something more plant friendly, and are given the option to do so at the point of purchase, so this is by no means a purely marine product.
I’m keen to see how the finish holds out against splashing, and I may have been wiser to opt for the black finish unit over the silver.
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