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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
1st, If your looking for lighting, check out Build My LED For anyone looking to get a lighting system: Check out Build My LED
These people know what there talking about. I spent some time on the the phone about my planted tank and what I was looking for. Cara knew exactly the plants I talked about and knew that my lighting system had to benefit, not only the plants and the growth demands, but also knew the color range that would look the best to show them off. I made my order and had a request in the building of my lights. After about an hour I received word that my request was going to be filled and will ship as soon as they are done.
As a business owner and someone that gives quality to there custom I have high demands on other companies I do business with. It is nice to know that this company is about the customers end result and making sure there quality of making these LED lights is high. I received an email telling me more of there process on building these lights. It was nice to know that these lights are not made by faceless people. I had requested that the power cord (that normally comes out the side) be positioned in the top middle of the light so I could fit in under my canopy. These people were very accommodating to my needs (I think they may soon offer this on a request basis in the future).
I love the fact I could design the lighting to my specs and alter it to match my needs and get the best possible color of light. I now have 2 lights, a 48 inch and an 18 (very high outputs) and I am now trying to build another light for my poison dart frog vavarium.
I have looked at hundreds of lighting systems and have owned lights since the out dated lightbulb days and have always been dissapointed one way or another (ie. good color, expensive bulb or great lighting bad design on the housing) So without trying to sound like a commercial, I just wanted to brag a bit about the great system they made for me.
 

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Glad they were able to make you the lights you were looking for. I'd like to see pictures and long term updates on how they work when you get them. I've often wondered about high end LED systems since I have not tried them yet. The only LED I have is the 10 watt floodlight that I have over a small emersed setup with anubias.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have the "Dutch Planted 6300K - XB Series" 48 inch for the 55 gal that is hooked to the apex system (because they are dimmable either manually or by a system, 10% to 100% on). I also have a custon 18" standard brightness on a manual dimmer that is a little bit different then a 6300K. It has a hint more of 560mb red light and a little less blue (there a little on the pink side of lighting but I'm hoping to get max light for the plant and not for looks.
I will be keeping a log of these lights and put a new post as I notice any changes or how things are going with them. I have a lux meter along with a few other magical pieces of equipment that most people don't even know they make (I use own a video production house, I used some high tec toys used for specific coloring in my shots and balance of colors for accuracy in multiple camera, multiple shot recording). So yeah, I will be able to show if LED starts to depreciate and in what Kelvin lighting is decreasing and if its possible, an increase in other colors. I think a few people might be surprised by findings. So look for a post in about 6 months on this :)
 

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I think the toughest thing to do is bring out the deep reds using LEDs instead of T5's. Looking forward to see if you can do it.

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Actually the leds can bring out reds much better then T5's. I took these from another forum that I was just reading this morning. As you can see the led 10K has red 560mn leds (whitch is were some photosynthesis takes place in plants) and with a bit of a warmer tone versus 10K t5's. the 1st image: 10K T5HO x 2-39W
PAR readings are ok, but I find them to be a waste of money, only because, once you have the lights setup and you get your reading, your done using it. For myself, I personally like to be able to check my blue, yellow and red lighting to make sure I am still getting the amount I need for best possible growth (unfortunately the setup I have was very expensive and I would have never purchased my equipment just for this purpose, but then again, Take advantage of my findings as they should be a general guide (+ or minus say 20% of what these LEDs standards should be). I think the second picture is a bit off color in the photo as I know the 10K are not that redish purple looking, but you get the idea.
 

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Are these lights ul tested?
From my understanding, I don't think many aquarium lights are UL Certified. It's a very expensive process.

Even some larger companies like Marineland only have the power supplies/ballasts UL Listed but I don't believe many of the actual fixtures are.

UL, although the most recognized, is also not the only Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory approved by OSHA.
 

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Interesting. I am always assuming I will eventually electrocute myself.
People pay lots of money to have curly hair. :p

What was said in the post above about ul listing is true. Its costs money to have your stuff tested. Lots of it
 

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PAR readings are ok, but I find them to be a waste of money, only because, once you have the lights setup and you get your reading, your done using it.
I agree, which is why I don't own one. I've never found lighting to be that much of an issue that it needs constant PAR monitoring.

I can see how they would be nice to have for a club or scientific testing though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
UL listing is nothing more than a company telling another company (UL) that this product is to be tested for exactly what the company tells them it is suppose to do. If the company says a product will not burst into a ball of flames and that it holds paper down (a rock) that is what it gets tested to. These LED's are built to IP66 standards for splash-resistance, Since the ballast is not in the unit and is on the plug, you can not get shocked by the light as it is a DC current in the lights and not 110V AC current. Not to mention the 3-year warranty, even on the manual dimmer.
ALSO, this is the process they go through to make the lights:
We use a combination of state-of-the-art robotic equipment and good old fashioned craftsmanship to create each fixture. My associates and I start with one 12” printed circuit board for each 12” of fixture (nano fixtures use 7” boards). We build the LED board from scratch using a robotic assembly machine to place the combination of LED colors you’ve selected onto each circuit board. Once the LEDs are positioned on the circuit board they are slowly run through an oven (sorta like a hi-tech pizza oven!) that gradually heats the boards from 75 to 465 degrees Fahrenheit. This melts the solder evenly and permanently fuses the LEDs to the circuit board. If you ordered one, we will also attach your dimmer to your fixture and test it. This not only tells us that the dimmer works correctly but is yet another test the LEDs must pass. If an LED doesn’t dim correctly the fixture is scrapped.

They have so much info on there web-site it's almost scary. Lighting concepts to understanding PAR, why you shouldn't just look at Kelvin light color and what colors of light will help specific needs. Also the Design your own LED light is awsome (even though I found it a great tool, it's not somthing I am willing to attempt just yet, but with the help of there staff I altered one of the units). And just as a bonus, they also build lighting for horticulture. They really do have a great web page, even if your not purchasing, you can learn more then what the big companies may not want you to know LOL.





When they cool we check them by eye for obvious problems and electrically test each LED board to make sure they are performing properly. Once everything looks good, we begin the assembly process. Up to this point, we have spent about an hour working on your fixture.



Once the LED board is assembled, the rest of the building process is done by hand. We start by mounting the LED circuit boards into the aluminum fixture case. We’ll wire the system, check and secure the connections and align our highly reflective optical system. We then install your selected lens onto the fixture and seal it to protect the fixture from water damage. End caps are added and the fixture is then ready to bench test.



First, each fixture (and the power supply that will ship with it) is plugged in and tested for at least 4 hours -- we call this the “burn-in” process. If there is a bad LED it will fail within a few minutes but we also want to make sure we catch any short circuits or poor connections that we missed in our earlier visual inspection. It is also a final test of the power supply. We use an incredibly cool hand-held laser scanner that quickly reads temperature with tremendous precision. We run the laser along the fixture looking for warm or cool areas -- a sign that something is not right. If we find an area with a temperature variation greater than +/- 4 degrees F, we assume there is a problem and the fixture is scrapped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Every electronic item in your home (except for a very few select items) is actually DC. AC current was produced and used for the sole purpose to transfer power over long distances and at a high amp to supply electricity for alot of things thanks Tesla (ac power didn't drop volts over miles of wire like dc current does). Before I get yelled at, let me explain: fluorescent: AC electric current passes through the ballast. The ballast will step up 120 AC volts (in the US) to 216 V, next the power passed through a 'choke' or 'reactor', this limits current and prevents the lamp from creating a type of short circuit which would destroy the lamp. All arc discharge lamps need a choke to limit current. current passes from your cathode to your anode (electrode to electrode) through the argon gas. Because your dealing with AC power, the cathode switches back and forth. AC power is good for the lamp because if the lamp was DC, the cathode side would be brighter and more intense since there are more free electrons spewing off of the tungsten electrode there. Also if the lamp was on DC power, the electrode which is acting as the cathode would become weaker as it lost tungsten atoms and the lamp would not last as long. Since we use AC the electrons or ions break off one side, reach the other, then on the next cycle are sent back. Also the lamp tube has a nice uniform brightness on both ends. With me so far? I hope so, when we talk about electronic ballast, there are a few things to be aware of. Electronic ballasts are usually viewed as being more efficient because by running a lamp at a higher frequency you get more efficacy or brightness from the lamp above 10kHz. This is in theory, however poorly or cheaply constructed ballasts will ruin the advantage of the electronic ballast. Most electronic ballasts are cheaply constructed in China and there for have less likelihood of actually producing the light color you think you have and are using, this is mainly shown in the compact flourescents and not so much in the t5's and t8's but there is evidence to suggest that a cheap ballast is not producing what it should be.
LED's- Led's consume D.C to produce light and are generally meant to be operated on D.C. but they will operate on A.C. However with A.C. of equal voltage the value of the current limiting resistor will have to be adjusted to achieve the same brightness. This is because with A.C. the led will only be lit when the current flow is in the proper direction. When the current flow reverses the led blocks current flow and remains unlit. Thus A.C. applied to an led will cause it to blink on and off even though at high enough frequencies it will appear to be lit continuously. To make a blinking led appear as bright as constantly lit led the current limiting resistor's value is lowered to allow more current flow causing the led to be brighter when lit. This causes a greater average light output and thus a brighter appearing led. This trick of the eye is a phenomenon known as persistence of vision. This is also the reason the led appears to be continuously lit when it is actually blinking.
There is an led type specifically meant to be operated on both A.C. and D.C. They are called Tri-color led's and as the name suggests they are capable of producing three distinct colors. They are actually composed of two led's one red and one green, wired cathode to anode and anode to cathode. This arrangement will cause the led to light up red when D.C. of one polarity is applied and green when D.C. of the opposite polarity is applied. The third color is generated by applying A.C. which alternately lights the red and green led's. The rapidly alternating colors mix visually to produce the third color, a greenish yellow. This is the kind of led used in moving dot displays that can change color. So in essence of the Quote made by jpsquire and the comment made by TAB respectively, Unless you have a few $1000 laying around for just the board and A/C current LED's and anoth few bucks, you wont be using A/C voltage in LED's and most of what is on the market is D/C LED's.
I have worked on the giant screens that are RGB (colored screens) that run A/C current to the LED's, just to replace a square or patch (3 LEDS is a patch consisting of red, green, and blue) run about $60 for the pack of 3. imagin that time 20,000 sets per screen (yea it takes a while to go through and test each set, about 9 1/2 hours). I hope this may clear up a few things, either that or I am way outdated on my eletronics and need to go back to school for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
On a side note: I am merely guessing these LEDs from buildmyLED are DC current at the LED. I will check to make absolutely sure about that and I apologize if I am mistaken. However a DC led can be extremely bright, notice your flashlight in your cell phones? My Cadillac Escalade has LED headlamps, and a lot of billboard lights have been switched over to LED, just to name a few Do not assume because it is D/C current that it is low voltage, that is apples to oranges
 

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I am very well aware of what low voltage dc can do and just how much power there is there, but every time you make a change from ac to dc(or the other way) there is always a loss of power and something else to go wrong. I am all about kiss.

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1tank1man, thanks for your very informative posts. Bringing the discussion to a very practical level, there is a lot of confusion in the hobby about LED lighting. Our club has a PAR meter, and the LEDs we've tested have been all over the map from useless to very good. BML seems to address most of the issues. I will be very interested to hear your long-term results from their fixture.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was asked a few questions on BuildMyLEDs XB series and thought I would post the answers I got from them.
1st qustion: "How do you think they can get 40% more light from a led with the same wattage, XB series. Do you think they over drive the leds? They did not provide the power usage difference between the two leds."
ANSWER: Nope, we underdrive our LEDs for greater efficiency and longer lifespan. The increase in light, which varies depending on spectrum from about 20-42%, is due to running more efficient LEDs (higher quality and more expensive, too). This means the same power draw as our Original Series spectrums but more light intensity.
2nd Question: Are the LED's running on A/C or D/C? The wire coming from the ballast to the fixture, is it A/C OR D/C?
Answer: "The power supply (on the plug) converts A/C to D/C and our LEDs run on D/C. But please...if a fixture falls into the water unplug it first and then grab it! Our fixtures are sealed to an IP66 rating so they are splash-proof and, while not warrantied to go under water, will likely survive a quick dunk. Just unplug, grab, wipe them off, and set them back up."
On there web-site they have 2 different lighting systems, the first is there standard series and the 2nd is there high output series that came out in December. These are the XB series that the 1st question was aimed at.
 

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From my understanding, I don't think many aquarium lights are UL Certified. It's a very expensive process.

Even some larger companies like Marineland only have the power supplies/ballasts UL Listed but I don't believe many of the actual fixtures are.

UL, although the most recognized, is also not the only Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory approved by OSHA.
Aquarium lighting would be very difficult to have UL approved. The entire system would have to be sealed so if someone dropped it into the water they would create shorts or shock anyone. However they could easily get them approved for use on terrariums since there is no body of water they would dropped into to short them out.
 
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