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Issue 32 / Feb/Mar 2012

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Ultra Marine Magazine – Product Review

The lighting market has to be one of the most competitive in the marine aquarium hobby, and this competition seems to be driving the creation of ever more complicated LED based units – with almost limitless opportunities for creating ‘user generated profiles’ and ‘tank specific solar simulations’.

Okay I’m making these terms up, but you know what I mean. Enter this spotlight unit from Arcadia – a chunk of cast aluminium and 12 CREE LEDs, some lenses and a power supply – that’s it! No timers, no dimming or ramping, in fact on the face of it, what does it have to offer?

The answer to this is simplicity and PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation). There’s nothing to go wrong with this unit, no fans to break, no electronic 28 day timers, it is exactly what it appears to be and this might be the key to its success.

The Range
There are four versions of the spotlight available which use different LED mixes to generate varying output spectra. See our table data.

A you can see there is a good choice here and for users wanting to illuminate a larger system, several units can be combined to create an individual solution. You could opt for a mix of blues and marine whites, use the 120 degree lenses and illuminate a large tank, or choose a 60 or 40 degree lens to bring attention to a particular coral specimen – or indeed create areas of brighter light (for tridacnids for example) in a tank that also houses some of the lower light demanding LPS corals.

You could also use a single unit to provide light for a smaller tank, the supplied bracket would allow the light to sit on the side of a small cube, say 50x50cm and look very elegant indeed (I should add that the unit has a diameter of 17cm). Alternatively, suspending a single unit over a smaller tank could look equally elegant.

Build quality
I always like to have a real good look at products I get for review, so let’s have a look at this chap.

The cast aluminium body is in fact the heat sink and is shaped to shed heat as quickly as possible (though it does get hot). This is well cast and anodised in black. The lens and lens cover assembly is held onto the body (and covers the circuit board) with three stainless steel bolts (Allen key supplied), along with an ‘O’ ring to prevent any splashing from below accessing the electronics.

A rubber grommet sits around the power lead heading into the unit from above, so I would guess the unit could cope with minor splashes. The transformer is in a plastic coating with its own power switch.

I would have liked to see better quality and perhaps waterproof connectors between the power switch and transformer, but this is a minor grumble. The supplied bracket for attaching the light to the tank wall is perfectly serviceable, though at around 15cm from tank wall to the centre of the light (at maximum extension) you’re not going to be using this on anything but quite small tanks. To overcome this Arcadia have either a hanging fixing – which attaches to each light and would make a very stylish and minimalist option – or a mounting rail, which can either rest on legs on the tank sides or be suspended from brackets or the ceiling.

Verdict
I think this unit will sell. In a very crowded market there is a niche for small, uncomplicated lighting fixtures, either on smaller systems or for creating bespoke lighting effects on larger systems. I like the range of lenses available and the options that gives you, though for the money I’d have liked to see all three lenses supplied with the main unit – the added expense might deter those on a limited budget.

At present there isn’t a dedicated controller for the unit, so users will have to rely on a number of their own timers, which will add to the chaos of wiring most fish keepers create – but I wonder if a controller might be on the cards; we will have to wait and see.

PROS

  • Very little to go wrong
  • Good PAR levels
  • Choice of lenses

CONS

  • Lack of timer and dimming features
  • Only one lens supplied with each unit





Issue 07 / Jan/Feb 2012

Marine Habitat Magazine – Clear Guide Revealed

Illuminating your Reef

LED lighting has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, although many are still sceptical of whether they can truly replicate the output of more traditional metal halide lighting. Arcadia bring to the table the Eco Aqua LED Spotlight.

We are all aware that lighting is a fundamental consideration for our reef aquaria. Traditional dogma dictates that photosynthetic organisms, whether they are coral or large banks of T5 lighting, to thrive in the aquarium.


“The Eco Aqua 30W LED Spotlight, with its closely packed cluster of high-power LEDs and a range of interchangeable lenses, is a high performance LED light source that replicates the effect of metal halide lamps.”


While it is impossible to cover every aquarium configuration possible, from water depth to footprint and coral chioce, it is safe to say there is a unit and lens option available for the vast majority of hobbyists. For reefers, the two that really concern us are the Marine White and the Marine Blue options. Using a mix of 8,000K whites and 450nm blues (8 and 4 respectively), the Marine White hits in the range of 14,000K, whilst the Marine Blue, which is entirely made up of blue LEDs, provides a crisper blue look closer to 20,000K.

Written by Levi Major


Posted on November 1, 2012

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digital-reefs.com – Online Specialists

EcoAqua 30watt LED Spotlight

“So, on opening the box, the first thing that grabbed us about this light was the obvious quality of the die cast aluminium housing. It’s surprisingly heavy (but not overly so) and feels solid and well crafted. The fins incorporated into the design facilitate passive cooling and overall we love the look these give to the unit. The finish is also beautiful, almost to the point where it’ll be a shame to have it hidden in our cabinet!”

by D-R Admin


Posted 6 Jan 2012

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UK Shrimp Forum – Product Review

First thoughts

See how the Arcadia LED compares with the TMC GroBeam 1000ND.



The camera doesn’t show it well, but the fish really jump out (as do the colours of the plants) under the EcoAqua.

Video showing the lovely effect given by 2 Arcadia EcoAqua 30 watt spotlights, 1 white and 1 freshwater.



Findings

Right, an update to this, as I’ve actually had a response from Arcadia regarding some of my points.

First up, the warranty, as I am sure I’m not the only one puzzled about this. Apparently leaving out warranty information is a deliberate move on Arcadia’s part, as they are still working on the final period they will setlle on, and don’t want to have to repackage once they settle on one. At present it is 2 years, however Cree apparently warrant the chip for 100,000 hours use, so apparently Arcadia are looking to increase the warranty to 3 years on the WHOLE product (lamp AND PSU). 2 years is an ok period really, 3 years even better.

Next up, the bracket. It seems Arcadia are in agreement with me that it’s too short a reach, so they are looking into imrpoving the design of this. So we can look forward to an improved design once the Arcadia boffins figure out the best way to extend the reach.

Next up the light spread. I noted that it is smaller than on the 1000ND, this was a deliberate choice on the part of Arcadia to group the LEDs together. They did this to increase PAR by utilising a more focused beam. I would predict that this will prove a good decision, given most of the people buying these will do so to either grow plants or corals under them. I can’t see many people buying them just to light fish as although colour rendition is far superior to flourescent lighting, it comes at a high cost. Longer term testing once I have my new aquarium should answer this question once and for all.

Finally, dimming. Apparently this is planned for the 2nd generation units, so for those who MUST have dimming, and can wait, they have this to look forward to. For the tank these will be going on, I’m not overly going to miss it, but it is something nice to have. I think the thing to remember is, VERY few T5HO luminaires dim either, or T8s, power compacts….

All in all, this all swings it for me. Shop around though, prices are VERY varied for these units even on the internet. If you do get some, whether for aquarium use or a viv, do post your experiences and opinions. A wider viewpoint is always a good thing.

Ade