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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

I have recently posted my big build in a separate thread and wanted to ask a lighting question. My frame is 8' tall, but due to lighting and false bottoms, I only need about 5.5-6' of actual light penetration floor to ceiling.

My original idea was 4x2' T8. I feel that is NOWHERE near enough now, and am adding at least 2x3' T8 as well, but still dont think its enoguh. I don't feel like adding more bulbs is the solution because its the bulbs themselves that don't penetrate enough.


How can I get 6' of light penetration without frying my plants at the top ? My current consideration is just hiding random grow lights in the walls n whatnot
 

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Well you could swap out low efficiency t8 for HO T5 lighting and see how that does. You could use some LED lighting as well if you wanted. Both are higher output and low heat
 

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I would go with HOT5, supplemented with some LED spotlights. I know that can work up to 4' away, but I'm not sure about 6'. You can always plant the viv more naturally, with few plants on the ground.
 

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I'm not sure if this would look odd, but could you hide some sleek LED light strips on the inside corners nearer to the bottom to get some light down there? Not sure if light coming at the plants from the side, instead of from the top, would work or not. Just thought I'd throw it out there...
 

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You can light plants from the side but they will change the orientation of their leaves to utilize it. This may change the appearance of your plants somewhat. Depending on how strong your side lighting is compared to your top lighting, you may end up with leaves that are all facing the sides instead of facing up.
Your plants may attempt to grow sideways instead of up, too.
Power Compact/compact fluorescent are an option too. Adding more of a particular type of bulb increases spread and brightness up at the top but may do very little for overall penetrating power. A higher watt Power Compact is NOT as efficient, watt per watt, as a T5 but it will have more penetrating power. Of course an HID Metal Halide will have even more penetrating power yet, but each time you step up, the heat will increase, too.
 

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t5ho will definately get down to the bottom of a tank that deep. under my t5s the reading for photosynthetic photo flux,PPF, is around 100micromol/m2. at 6 inches below the tubes the PPF is around 400. this is measured witha apogee mq200 quantum flux meter. at the top i have brassovolas that are growing well for the last month and seem to be putting on a bit of red in their new growth. on the floor of the viv lower light plants see to be growing well with good coloration and no reaching for light. i am currently using a 50/50 mix of 6.5k and 3k bulbs but think i am going to change to a 3/1 ratio of cool to warm to get a little brighter. a 400 watt mh would also get it bright enough especially if you use a lumenbright type of reflector. high power leds with 30 degree lenses should also have the punch to get to the bottom, but my led unit is still probably about a month or 2 from completion. i am using 32 4' t5ho bulbs over 36 square feet of viv to get the numbers you see above. my build thread has pics up of the plants in place as well. you probably do not need this high of a level of lighting unless you are sure you want to grow high light requiring plants but i like the margin of error in having alot of light.
 

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You can light plants from the side but they will change the orientation of their leaves to utilize it. This may change the appearance of your plants somewhat. Depending on how strong your side lighting is compared to your top lighting, you may end up with leaves that are all facing the sides instead of facing up.
Your plants may attempt to grow sideways instead of up, too.
Power Compact/compact fluorescent are an option too. Adding more of a particular type of bulb increases spread and brightness up at the top but may do very little for overall penetrating power. A higher watt Power Compact is NOT as efficient, watt per watt, as a T5 but it will have more penetrating power. Of course an HID Metal Halide will have even more penetrating power yet, but each time you step up, the heat will increase, too.
What if he used CFL bulbs in a lamp on an arm/stand of some sort on the sides of the tank, so that the light would come in from the side but angled down. Then the plants would still be reaching up, sort of.
 

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What if he used CFL bulbs in a lamp on an arm/stand of some sort on the sides of the tank, so that the light would come in from the side but angled down. Then the plants would still be reaching up, sort of.
True enough. It may not even bother him if the plants re-orient themselves slightly unnaturally, just wanted to point out the possibility.
 

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Without resorting to interiorly mounted light strips along the sides of the enclosure the proper way to go about would be to use halide / hps lamps and good parabolic reflectors. Proper reflectors do an amazing job of focusing and concentrating light and halides lamps are the most efficient technolgy to produce lots of light lumens per watt of energy consumed.
 

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halides are good for putting lots of par out per watt, but a very efficient led system will beat it in par/watt. also a good single reflector t5ho system is at least as efficient as mh systems. i am not an early adaptor by any means both my old 300g reef and my new 700 gallon reef are/will be lit by mh with lumenbright/lumenarc reflectors. im not just making stuff up here i have 2 of the three and am building the third one(led). also i have the numbers measured over a tank of almost the depth being discussed. metal halides are a great way to put out alot of light, but their biggest dissadvantage is the heat they produce. that will be hard to manage on a viv in my opinion. if you really want to think outside of the box and get a very efficient good color rendering light you should look into one of the new plasma lights from luxim. they can produce up to 140 lumen/watt. the 250 watt version is supposed to put out the same amount of light as a 400 watt mh. cost is high but if you have high electric costs they may pay for themselves in not too long a time frame. cree xmls, the ones i will be using can produce 160 lumen/watt, but only at 350 milliamps, when run at a reasonable 2 amps the efficiency is closer to 100 lumens/watt. most 400 watt mh will run at considerably under 100 lumens/watt. so to sum it all up dont go with mh lighting. either t5ho, led, or luxim plasma depending on your specific needs, budget, and diy ability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
EXCELLENT REPLIES!!!


I currently have a MH bulb in my mini-indoor-greenhouse and, at least as far as that goes, I have not allotted enough HEIGHT in my light hood to properly fit. Also, given that LED will be at least roughly the same cost, I'd rather use those.

I really, *REALLY* want to use LEDs. I have wanted to transition to LEDs for a long, LONG time.

The problem is I can not find a good AFFORDABLE source for LEDs. I am under the impression that LEDs are extremely cheap to produce, but everywhere I can find LED lighting its upwards of $70-100 for a 3' strip, which seems absurd to me...
 

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best way to save money is to make your own light. that way you get the emitters you want and save a ton of money. for efficiency you currently cant beat the cree xml-u2 emitters. they are in 7k and can be run at higher amperage than the other high power emitters. all it requires is a little bit of mechanical aptitude, time, and a soldering unit. lots of good diy threads on reef central. i dont know the size of your viv only the depth. for reference i will be lighting a 22x39 inch area of my viv with 24 xml emitters, 18 u2 7k, and 6 warm whites for better color balance. when running them at 2 amps apiece i should get about the same par numbers as im getting under my t5s. my led light will be 60 inches over the floor of my viv. hoping to have enough light on the floor to grow heliamphoras without overheating it.
 

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implimenting an led array that has the "punch" to push usable amounts of light down at least 72" is a bit challenging -prolly doable, but it's not going to done using screw socket led units.

I'd guess that you'd prolly need to build a DIY array w/ Cree 3-watt star's and narrow focus optics to be able push a usable amount of light that deep -prolly along w/ wider focus optics on other emitters to fill in the spotlight effect of tight optics

Myself, I am plotting to use led's to light one of the giant exoterra 36X18X36 enclosures and have found the process more than a bit daunting.

Commerical units are brutally expensive and not designed to produce light for terrestrial vegation but for corals in reef tanks.

DIY arrays are a bit less expensive to build, but still painfully expensive and wading through the techincal complexities and practicalities w/o destroying parts in the process is not a simple process.

One of the better DIY sources: Rapid LED Home Page

And the most interesting commerical I've yet run across: Maxspect Mazarra LED Reef Enhancing Lighting System | CoralVue -it is a very modular/ customized system that allows the emitters to be swapped out for more appropiate spectrum ones

And a price tagged link to choke over: Maxspect Mazarra P-Series MZ-P01 Complete LED Lighting System
 

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LED spotlights - 6.5k.
30 degree tight-beam.
Cree emitters.
They go for 'bout 79.99 ea.
They will project light down.
:D
pm me if you have any questions. :)
 

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LED spotlights - 6.5k.
30 degree tight-beam.
Cree emitters.
They go for 'bout 79.99 ea.
They will project light down.
:D
pm me if you have any questions. :)
I agree that LED spotlights are what you would need, but i think a tighter beam of 8 to 10 degrees for depths looking for. I've been playing a little with optics and they make a cone of light, so it widens as it travels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@chinmonster: that RAPID LED link is exactly what I was looking for ty!!!

@Venutus: can you email me more info on that? [email protected]

@skanderson: I checked out your thread and my build is somewhat similar. My dimensions are 3'x3'x8' total free-standing open-air unit for my chameleon; it has a shelf/drainage area underneath for a false-floor, and accounting for the light hood at the top, I will have just about 60" of actual "tank".



As for the LEDs themselves...I've heard much talk about the colors, but I'm not too familiar with plant growth and color spectrums...

I was under the impression that I should aim for ~6.5K color temp....you said the pure whites were 7K, is that the reason you are mixing some softer blues to bring your overall light to 6.5K? I don't exactly know the correlation between light spectrum and plant growth.


Lastly....can anyone give me a ballpark value on these CREE emitters? How many of them will replace 1 T8 or T5 or w/e, just something I can compare to. I'm leaning towards needing 24 total for my 3x3x6'ish area that needs lighting.
 

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with the k of light color remember roygbiv. the lower the value the closer to red you are the higher the number the closer to violet you are. 6.5k is about daylight on a clear day. 3k will be closer to the color of light produced by an incandescent light bulb. i think that 24 lights should do well and give you good growth in your enclosure. rapidled is a good site but i found my leds cheaper at lightmalls.com. that was for the cree xmls that are the most powerful and still efficient led atm.. i just soldered and mounted my unit together today but am awaiting my drivers that are being made for me. when i get it finished i will post pics and par meter readings but it may be a month or so. with 30 degree optics on a 24 inch heatsink my leds will light a 39 inch wide area at 60 inches of height if my geometry skills are right. if you go smaller than 30 i would really worry about getting a very spotty look to the light. i ended up paying just a little over 8$ each for my emitters and they shipped them very quickly. my 6.5k t5ho bulbs are supposed to produce about 5000 lumens apiece. the xmlu2s run at 2 amps produce 740 lumens according to the cree site. so slightly less than 7 of them to one 4 foot t5ho bulb. i did my calculations for how many to used based on lumens/ft2. if anything i think the numbers will be slightly better for the leds do to their tight downward focus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
thanks i'll check out lightsmall as well.

my initial thought is to use like 18 LEDs with 30Degree lenses and then have the remaining 6 or so use 60degree to "fill out" the light so it doesn't look spotty but I'm sure I will have to play around with that a bit.


I guess its time I do a little geometry too :p
 

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What i know on CREE emitters XPE most colors can run at 2watts .700mA on normal heatsink. Cree XPG your better for whites 2 to 3 watts .7 to 1amp. XML newest out not many options on color 3 to 5 watts.
All can be driven harder with better heatsink but are most efficent at lower watts stated.

I figure 15 watts of cree same as a 26 watts of cfl, thats probably close estimate, and easier to direct light down with optics :D
 
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