Arcadia Eco-Aqua LED lighting review

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These new high power spotlights were one of the most impressive pieces of kit at the recent Aqua 2011 trade show, says Nathan Hill.

When I arrived at the Arcadia stand and placed my PAR meter under the intense radiation of this particular light, my readings went off the scale. That’s something I’ve not seen before.

The model I have to play with is a first generation 30w marine white. This pours out 14,000K over a 40° angle, and consists of 12 individual LEDs inside. The white ones produce 8,000K of that light, while the blues compensate for the rest.

Reaching potential

Cree XPE components are used and, interestingly, each LED is only taking up 2.5w.

The obvious benefit of this is that the unit should actually reach the claimed LED lifespans that are destroyed when LED’s are run at over full potential. Being understressed as it is, we can expect a much lower rate of degradation than in units where manufacturers hurl as much power as they can through the units for sheer, gung-ho brightness.                                 

Some might be concerned at the narrow spread of the 40° lens, but this can be changed. The light is well focused in a tight beam and over a bommie of rocks with corals should produce some pretty intense growth rates.

The lens can be changed for a tank that needs more spread. Care needs to be taken during the change, as, sat incorrectly, the lens will crush the delicate LEDs when reassembled.

Changing over gives you the option of a still-tight 60° spread, and removing the lens altogether gives a 120° spread. The 60° lens is a seperate purchase, however.

A separate powerpoint and switch is provided, but there’s no dimming option, nor the option to change between blue and white lighting.

In the usual Arcadia style, the light can be clamped on to the glass of the tank with the brace provided, or be suspended with a cable — but, like the alternate lens, the cable is not supplied as standard in the package.

It's a shame that the direction of the light cannot be adjusted in all directions when mounted and it would be nice to see a future option for an easier-aim head.

Critics have already argued with me about the rounded, UFO design of the housing, but with the amount of extra heat sinking this shape allows, it seems a sensible option.

It’s an unusual shape, I’ll admit, but I quite like it. It’s less cumbersome than a halide box that would offer a similar output and, besides, I tend not to set up a tank and then stare at the lighting. With this device I’d end up vaporising my retina if I tried.

This light is excellent either as a standalone or selection of standalones to illuminate a reef, or as a supplementary light to complement any existing tubes and/or LEDs.

I’m uncertain just how far this light will penetrate, as I don’t have a tank deep enough to put it through its paces, but if it couldn’t keep photosynthetic corals happy at 60cm/24” depth with the 40° lens then I’d be very surprised.

If you’re thinking of your first venture into a high-end, premium light, then this is definitely for you.

Price: £225

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