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Novel Responder
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4,371 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Plumbing, Electric, and DIY are not my strong points. My DIY VHO set up (I bought it second hand with the used tank, didn't build on my own) is about dead...I have already had one small fire and another almost started yesterday with an arc fire. One of the blue bulbs works fine, but the caps won't connect properly and it starts to smoke if I try and match it up...translation: time for new lighting system. Challenge is I am on a tight budget (say under $1000, preferrably well under $1000. I was thinking of going to an LED based setup, but the ones I like all seem to start at about $2500 and I am getting lost quickly.

Today, I have a 72" long tank with a canopy. I am looking for a setup that doesn't take two people to do maintenance, meaning I want to lose the canopy and either go with hanging lights or something that can sit on the edges of the tank. I am having a hard time finding setups for LED's due to the fact that most seem to be maxing out at 48", which brings up the question..."Do you get a fixture and then attach modules to a fixture?" I am really confused on how to hook these things up. I am going to visit my LFS tomorrow and see about getting a used fixture from a tank he tore down and maybe replace some bulbs, but no idea what he has in stock, if anything. Plan B is to order something on-line without getting ripped off. I'd like to be able to grow SPS moving forward, but worst case, can get away with LPS for now.
 

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Underwater Demolitions
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11,547 Posts
Plumbing, Electric, and DIY are not my strong points. My DIY VHO set up (I bought it second hand with the used tank, didn't build on my own) is about dead...I have already had one small fire and another almost started yesterday with an arc fire. One of the blue bulbs works fine, but the caps won't connect properly and it starts to smoke if I try and match it up...translation: time for new lighting system. Challenge is I am on a tight budget (say under $1000, preferrably well under $1000. I was thinking of going to an LED based setup, but the ones I like all seem to start at about $2500 and I am getting lost quickly.

Today, I have a 72" long tank with a canopy. I am looking for a setup that doesn't take two people to do maintenance, meaning I want to lose the canopy and either go with hanging lights or something that can sit on the edges of the tank. I am having a hard time finding setups for LED's due to the fact that most seem to be maxing out at 48", which brings up the question..."Do you get a fixture and then attach modules to a fixture?" I am really confused on how to hook these things up. I am going to visit my LFS tomorrow and see about getting a used fixture from a tank he tore down and maybe replace some bulbs, but no idea what he has in stock, if anything. Plan B is to order something on-line without getting ripped off. I'd like to be able to grow SPS moving forward, but worst case, can get away with LPS for now.
I'd buy that book...someday ... Except I would prefer the whole series to be titled "for the inexperienced". I don't like being judged by a $12.95 softcover.

If someone asked me about my LED's I'd say... "Well, I bought them used. There are some blue lights and some white ones with plastic lenses. There a 4 red-purle ones that come on for a couple hours a day. It has a programmable microprocessor with about 8 buttons all labeled with Chinese characters so I have never changed the light cycle in case I never get it working again. The front says "KK powerlight" which does not come up on google"

That, my friends, is 100% of my LED knowledge. But my coral grow. I'm afraid if I knew more I'd get lighting hypochondria.
 

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Acroholic
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3,188 Posts
Hellen, it's really quite simple. LED stands for light emitting diode. A diode is a one-way electrical valve only allowing current to flow in one direction meaning that polarity is important; therefore, LED bulbs run on DC voltage only. Your average 3w LED runs at about 3.5 volts. You could use just about any voltage DC transformer or battery above 3.5 volts depending on the configuration of your wiring as long as you match the voltage of the independent runs in series to the voltage of the transformer and add equal runs in parallel (maximum wattage dependent of course).

LED lights are efficient because they do not simply heat a filament (resistance in the circuit) to a point where it glows. This is wasteful because it generates a lot of heat in the process. LEDs work through electroluminescence. When an electron passes through the semiconductor, they drop into a lower energy level and release a photon of light. The wavelength (color) of light depends on the characteristics of the semiconductor medium and the voltage, amperage or duty cycle (in the case of control via pulse width modulation).
 

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Underwater Demolitions
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11,547 Posts
Like I said, I wish those books were not called "for dummies" but "for the inexperienced"

Yeah, I know all that stuff. Doesn't mean I understand exactly how much light it puts out, whether the color balance is ok, how to program it or is it crappy/good/somewhere in between. But like I said, the important thing is that it grows coral well. But as well as it could? I dont know. Yet the giant 220 to 110 transformer with the funky universal-euro plug adaptor, plus he fact that it needs to be handled very gently because the blues have flickered a few times lets me know that I'd better do a whole bunch of research before the day I have no lights.
 

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Registered
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334 Posts
if you can mix 2 part expoxy, and glue chips down, and watch some you tube videos on how to solder, and also watch youtube video's on tuning meanwell drivers.....

then you can build your own.... i built my own fixture 8 months ago... and let me tell ya, that was the best thing i ever did, i have amazing colour, and amazing growth..... and my hydro bill went down 40 dollars per month!!!
 

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Aquatic Philosopher
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15,434 Posts
What is wrong with my LED build? I knew nothing and my soldering ability was that of a two-year old. I learned and it was surprisingly easy at the end.

If you want a good system without spending a lot of money, check out the non-dimmable DIY Rapid LED. It is literally cutting wires and soldering them down. If you can wire even the simplest of things (cut and splice) then you should be able to do it in a day.
 

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Novel Responder
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4,371 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Minion, I liked Helens answer better :)

Luke and Future, when I said I can't do wiring, I mean I really don't get electric and DIY...I think I could figure it out, but the biggest issue is the time. With my job, two kids, and the house, I am having trouble keeping up with basic water changes and cutting the grass...now that the drought is over...

I tried my LFS today for anything used, but no luck, so I'll check out that ebay link Minion sent over (thanks for providing) and check on the rapid LED's...maybe I can get a friend to help out for a few frosty beverages of the adult variety.
 

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Novel Responder
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4,371 Posts
Discussion Starter #10

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Underwater Demolitions
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11,547 Posts
I looked at Rapid LEDs website. Yep, I can do that! And use the heatsink from my existing unit once it stops being Shaivo. May that day not come anytime soon.
I was hoping the site gave better advice.. I can do basic electrical stuff, but... What colors, what angle lenses, how many and what power do I need to light a 60 mixed cube?

Does anyone know a good tutorial written in "for the inexperienced" language? I want my SPS and LPS to thrive, but not burn my nps. I imagine that might be quite a spectrum tweak, or not possible a all.

Dang, I need another tank. Anyone have a spare 125 gallon tall? :)
 

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Acroholic
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3,188 Posts
That may work...three quick questions:

1. Can I put them on timers so the blues come on and go off separate from the whites?
2. Do I need new ballasts? I have two ballasts today for my 4 VHO bulbs, but may need three if I get three of them?
3. Can I hang these so they will sit within the canopy I have (tops of the canopy come off) to eliminate some of the glow?
They come with two plugs to independently control whites and blues on a timer. The transformers are built into these units so you need nothing from your old lights. The ballasts for fluorescent lights are totally different than the transformers for LED anyway as they use A/C rather than DC voltage to light the bulbs. Hanging these in the canopy is fine. LED bulbs have lenses to project the light only in the direction which you want rather than radiating it 360 degrees. I do not use a canopy with my lights and there is no light projected on the floor and very little on the wall behind the tank (the light is closer to the wall than it is the floor).

This is a 90 gallon tank local to me which is lit by two of those fixtures:


I use a Chinese fixture but it is a different one. I also built 15w PAR38 LED accent lights which you can find a link to the DIY for in my signature. The white and blue LEDs look really good but after a while I personally missed the purple light from the actinic bulbs.
 

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Registered
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I looked at Rapid LEDs website. Yep, I can do that! And use the heatsink from my existing unit once it stops being Shaivo. May that day not come anytime soon.
I was hoping the site gave better advice.. I can do basic electrical stuff, but... What colors, what angle lenses, how many and what power do I need to light a 60 mixed cube?

Does anyone know a good tutorial written in "for the inexperienced" language? I want my SPS and LPS to thrive, but not burn my nps. I imagine that might be quite a spectrum tweak, or not possible a all.

Dang, I need another tank. Anyone have a spare 125 gallon tall? :)
There is a basic formula for how many leds:
Length of tank X Width, then divide by 16 if you keep sps, and 20 if you keep lps.....

for example.....
my tank,
72 X 18
1296 / 16 = 81
1296 / 20 = 64

i used 96, for maximum coverage,(i just dim them down to 90 percent) and its an even number (each of my drivers can handle 24) , As for lenses, a Naked LED has a 120 degree lense on it, realisticly if your tank is less than 24 inches deep, you dont need lenses, the light still reaches the bottom, but i do run 60 degree lenses on the front row, keep the light off the glass a bit, and i have some coral on the sand bed.....

As for ratio, I used 60 white to 40 blue, it is pretty close to 14 k, when both are turned up, it i was to change anything, i would do 45 white, 45 blue, and 6 UV , i seen other builds since min with the uv, and they look amazing....
 

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Novel Responder
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4,371 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
They come with two plugs to independently control whites and blues on a timer. The transformers are built into these units so you need nothing from your old lights. The ballasts for fluorescent lights are totally different than the transformers for LED anyway as they use A/C rather than DC voltage to light the bulbs. Hanging these in the canopy is fine. LED bulbs have lenses to project the light only in the direction which you want rather than radiating it 360 degrees. I do not use a canopy with my lights and there is no light projected on the floor and very little on the wall behind the tank (the light is closer to the wall than it is the floor).

This is a 90 gallon tank local to me which is lit by two of those fixtures:


I use a Chinese fixture but it is a different one. I also built 15w PAR38 LED accent lights which you can find a link to the DIY for in my signature. The white and blue LEDs look really good but after a while I personally missed the purple light from the actinic bulbs.
Awesome. Thanks Minion.
 

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Novel Responder
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4,371 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Ok, so measuring these, they will fit inside the hood/canopy if I remove the tops so my wife won't complain about the look. Using Luke's formula, I should need about 108 LED bulbs to do SPS? (175g bowfront, so about 72x24 on average). Based on 25 blue and 30 white per unit, three of them would be plenty for the tank. Ballasts, or what would replace them, are built in so I don't need to worry about that at all. Am I missing anything, or could I really be doing SPS corals for just three of these units? Will that much light fry my zoa's, toadstools, mushrooms, fox, and ephyllia? Will they penetrate to the bottom as is in a 30" deep tank? I think we may have a winner here...
 

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Underwater Demolitions
Joined
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11,547 Posts
There is a basic formula for how many leds:
Length of tank X Width, then divide by 16 if you keep sps, and 20 if you keep lps.....

for example.....
my tank,
72 X 18
1296 / 16 = 81
1296 / 20 = 64

i used 96, for maximum coverage,(i just dim them down to 90 percent) and its an even number (each of my drivers can handle 24) , As for lenses, a Naked LED has a 120 degree lense on it, realisticly if your tank is less than 24 inches deep, you dont need lenses, the light still reaches the bottom, but i do run 60 degree lenses on the front row, keep the light off the glass a bit, and i have some coral on the sand bed.....

As for ratio, I used 60 white to 40 blue, it is pretty close to 14 k, when both are turned up, it i was to change anything, i would do 45 white, 45 blue, and 6 UV , i seen other builds since min with the uv, and they look amazing....
Very helpful! Thanks, fellow Canadian. Maybe they could change some of the national anthem lyrics: "The True North strong and Free, with good advice on LED. "
 

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BRW member
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2,610 Posts
richkor, did u get three of the ebay lights? did you like them (or whatever you got)?
 

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Registered
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254 Posts
What is wrong with my LED build? I knew nothing and my soldering ability was that of a two-year old. I learned and it was surprisingly easy at the end.

If you want a good system without spending a lot of money, check out the non-dimmable DIY Rapid LED. It is literally cutting wires and soldering them down. If you can wire even the simplest of things (cut and splice) then you should be able to do it in a day.
+1 to Doc. I literally know nothing of wiring, and I followed Doc's build very closely and was able to put my own together without much trouble. Now, i've converted almost everything i own to LED. I built a custom fixture for my 5 gallon freshwater shrimp tank at work, and I'm building another custom fixture (both using the old hood and cover) for my 20 gallon freshwater angelfish tank tomorrow actually.

Once you solder a couple times, its easy. I will advise you have a friend help you, as you realistically need 3 hands to get everything together easily. One person can do it, but its wayyyy easier with two.

Word of advice, be careful with acclimating you corals (LED's are intense!). I probably have a few too many for my little 10G reef, but care should still be taken. My sunset monti and red monti cap along with my zoa's and duncan did great with the change, however I bleached the heck out of my california tort. That was a month or two ago, and its just staring to recover. Now that I've recently acquired a green slimer acro and an oregon tort, they'll be spending quite a while on the bottom of the tank just to be sure they don't bleach also.
 
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