I measured a couple new LED fixtures from Sunshine Systems at
last Friday. I should have taken better notes so some of this from memory...Jake if you remember differently let me know.
The square Sunshine system LEDs measure about 300 a couple inches under the water and about 130 near the bottom of the tank (the tank was a 29 biocube). This wasn't too bad and in my experience is roughly equal to a 150 watt bulb that is a few months old. I felt the color was very nice in the tank and the zoas and palys in the tank looked very very happy. From the last time I was in, it the shop there was noticeable growth in that tank. This fixture sells for about $180.
The round fixture called the "UFO" also from Sunshine Systems was a little brighter and measured out around 380 couple inches below the surface and 180 near the bottom (this was a glass tank that was ~18-inches tall). This fixture sells for about $300.
By comparison, the Acan fixture that Preuss has on their 34-gallon Solana, when turned to full power measures about 760 a couple inches below the surface and 300 near the bottom. Preuss normally runs this fixture at 60% power since it is also a Z&P dominated tank that apparently suffered some problems at higher intensities. The PAR at 60% was about 450 a couple inches under the water surface and 260 near the bottom (~16-inches). This fixture sells for about $500.
The pricing for each of these fixtures seems to be in line with the performance and features. The Sunshine light is a great fixture to get into LEDs and be able to grow some softies. However, if you want dimming capabilities and the ability to independently dim to control light coloration, or need more intensity, then the Sunshine fixture isn't going to work.
I'm also big on aesthetics since the lighting over my tank is exposed. The white box of the Sunshine system isn't overly stylish. Jake mentioned they are coming out with a black version which might look better than the white.
The UFO fixture looks pretty nice, but when you get into that $300 pricing...I can't help but look at the Acan fixture and think it is a lot more versatile for the money...I guess it is almost twice the price. But still I think the versatility is worth the difference.
While looks could be improved, I think the Acan fixtures have better aesthetics than most LED fixtures right now. IMO the AI fixtures aren't very nice looking either. One thing I think would be nice if Acan offered a version of their fixture without their own controls so that someone with a controller can plug it in and use their controller rather than have to program a timer separately from the controller. It would be even better if they could reduce the price for a fixture without built in controls.
In conclusion, the most striking thing about the Sunshine LED array was the color tone it gives off. It seemed to be the most natural looking of the bunch. It didn't have that overly harsh white nor too blue. The corals looked awesome and happy under it...which at the end of the day, that is really what matters. And the price point is definitely very good. For the price of a couple bulb replacements you can get into an LED fixture that will conserve energy and have less heat issues.
One thing about these Sunlight fixtures is that they can daisy chain together. I think the website says up to 28 of them. So that would reduce some of the cord clutter in a canopy with several fixtures.
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