CoraLED LED luminaire review

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Jeremy Gay examines the one-metre board unit of a new lighting range.

It’s good...

British made, this luminaire is already proven in the marine market and now being stocked and sold by some marine specialist stores.

Our test unit contains four LED boards, each fitted with 12x3w LEDs. Actual power consumption of each board is 27w though, instead of 36w as you might have expected.

This, say CoraLed, is because they are driven at 700 milli-amps instead of one amp, meaning less heat and a lifespan of 11 years for each LED instead of seven to eight years if more heavily driven.

Existing units holding between one and eight boards of LEDS up to 3m/10’ are as standard — but customised sizes are possible.

CoraLed’s Ian Baker revealed that the company is now using smaller LED boards fitted with three 3w LEDs. This gives them greater flexibility and mixing of colours within a single luminaire.

A unit suitable for a 1.2m/4’ hard coral tank uses just 114w of electricity, according to CoraLed, as opposed to 200-300w plus from multiple T5 tubes or twin metal halides, plus more watts consumed by a chiller.

The luminaires themselves are built by hand and quite functional. They are quite slim and flexible in terms of fittings and have legs and length adjustable suspension options.

You know an LED unit is truly bright when the manufacturer warns you that it may bleach some SPS coral species if placed too near! That’s definitely the case here…

But…

There’s not much to complain about, apart from the stated price. There will be obvious savings over a ten-year period against bulb or tube changes with more conventional lighting methods, though you will still have to fork out more than £1,000 for an average-sized unit — which will limit the number of enthusiasts who can afford one.

The verdict

We liked these lights when we tested them and, being LED, they benefit from green credentials, like low heat, long life, low energy and having zero bulb changes or hazardous waste.

A two-port programmable controller is on the way, basically a 16-bit computer, enabling programming of lunar phases as well as running a separate sump light 24/7.

If going just LED, do you opt for one of these or multiple AquaBeam 1000 HDs, or 500s? The LEDs used by both manufacturers are very similar.

Our test model came with 48 LEDs which, from TMC, would mean nearly five 1000 HDs or ten AquaBeam 500s. It’s when you add up the cost of buying all those units individually that the price of multi-board luminaires falls into context.

Overall, this is a well-made product well fit for purpose and well worth investigating if going for LED on a medium to large reef tank.

Product: CoraLed aquarium LED lighting

Price: From £600-2,000, depending on size and specification.

Reviewer: Jeremy Gay

Rating: 4/5

More info: 01484 845166

Good

  • Bright
  • Low energy
  • Good fitting options

Bad

  • Expensive

This article was first published in the January 2010 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.