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AquaIllumination Vs. Maxspect G2-160W With PAR Measurements
(sorry for the poor quality photo, I've not yet recovered my DSL.)
I just purchased a Maxspect G2-160W and an Apogee MQ-200 PAR meter. It will take some time to get the tanks mapped and accurate measurements done (my son "borrowed" my SLR ) and to develop a standardized method of placing the sensor as it's very sensitive - any motion skews the results. But so far....WOW
I knew the AIs were PAR MONSTERS, but even so, I'm really impressed at the initial measurements. At 100%W / 100%B...
6" - 1650
12" - 1370 (water surface)
16" - 915 (4" water depth)
19" - 690 (7" water depth)
24" - 560 (12" water depth)
Strangely, I seem to measure about a 10% difference between the 2 AI units. I'll define further as my technique improves.
The MaxSpect G2-160W is hung 12" above the tank (same as the AIs although without optics, I'll probably need to lower.)
In the above photo, the two AI units (70W ea.) are running 100% Blue and 75% white. The Maxspect (G2-160W) is at 100% on all LEDS resulting in the following measurements...
At 12" (water surface)
AI - 1105
MXS - 350
Placing the sensor 6" directly below each light with both units at max output resulted in the following...
AI - 1650
MXS - 840
For a direct comparison to MH/T5, the Maxspect replaced a 150W Phoenix 14K running with 2 GM Actinic+ T5s, which generated about 650 PAR at the waterline with the lights about 3 1/2" above
Although the Maxspect "looks" much brighter, the AIs (even with the white LEDS reduced to 75%) are putting out far more PAR and the impact of the 40 degree optics are apparent.
What this means to anyone new to LEDS, especially AquaIllumination is be don't be fooled by appearances. You cannot compare "by looks" the output of T5 or MH to LED as they are far from PAR equivalent. If you try, you will surely cook your livestock. (been there, done that.)
I'll take more measurements and photos as soon as I get my camera back.
**These measurements are probably +-10% as I haven't yet perfected a standardized way to hold the sensor. All lights are hung 12" above water surface. AI measurements taken directly under one AI 70W. Maxspect measurements taken directly under center of fixture with the MQ-200 set to Sun setting. The below-water AI measurements are likely skewed high from light from the adjacent (5" apart) AI unit. I left both on as this likely represents actual usage (multiple units.) Those with more than 2 units would have higher readings with light from 2nd adjacent unit.
Last edited by CalmSeasQuest; 05-01-2010 at 03:46 PM.
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Yes - The G2 was set at 12" just for PAR testing. Final height will be dictated by PAR and coverage (probably 4"-6" as the tank is so shallow).
I'm not a big fan of the spotlight effect either. With the AIs raised to 12", there is no spotlighting. At higher power settings the AI's are far less blue than the G2. As a result of the color, and the fact the AI's put out much more PAR than I need - I set the AI controller so it gradually ramps up to the higher white setting (max 75%) during mid day (11:00-13:00) when for the most part, the tank is not being viewed and is back in the 20K+ range in the morning/evening peak viewing hours. Even at the lower white settings - the AIs still put out significantly more PAR than the G2s even at 100% (At 6", the AI blues LEDS alone put out 710 PAR.)
Here's perhaps a better color comparison...
This photo shows the MXS at 100% on all LEDS and the AIs at 44% white / 100% blue. At these settings, measuring 7" below each light - The AI puts out about 1425 PAR and the MXS about 700 PAR.
IMO, the light on both tanks is stunning and a vast improvement over the MH/T5s they replaced, the only significant viewing difference is the slight purple hue produced by the semi-LEDs in the MXS.
Last edited by CalmSeasQuest; 05-01-2010 at 08:31 PM.
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What is the difference in purchase cost? Are both units consuming the same amount of power in watts?
Yeah, that's better.
I also noticed in close-ups of the G2 that's it's using Semi-LEDs. The Semi's also look suspiciously like Satistronics variety, and the big white LED array in the G2 would tend to confirm this. This is of interest to me because I'm working with the Satistronics DIY, and after resolving some of their shortcomings find them cheap and workable. The color of their standard blues for example are very close to Cree RB's.
So, the deeper color of the G2 is understandable because that's what I've found with the Semis. The price of the G2 seems quite nice as well.
As for other differences between the units, is it fair to say the AI unit mostly emphasizes the narrow optic option plus programming options? The G2 possibly being a better 'PAR per dollar' option?
As for electricity, the AIs are 70 watts each and use 74 watts at the wall. I haven't measured the G2 yet, but it's advertised at 160 watts.
I've had the AIs for 4 months. So far, I've been very impressed with them and the colors/growth. I prefer the tighter optics from the perspective it allows the light to be mounted higher above the tank.
I believe I prefer the crisp blue of the Crees vs. the more violet/blue of the Semi-LEDS (but the proof will be in Coral growth and color.) I've read some conflicting data on the Semi-LEDS, indicating they may need to be replaced much more frequently than the Crees.
As far as PAR per dollar - I haven't finished PAR testing yet, but it seems the AIs put out double (or more) the PAR of the G2s so even at twice the cost, if you toss in the controller functionality - I give the nod to the AquaIllumination.
The Maxspect looks pretty spartan compared to the AI, but I guess if you need a simple unit at a budget standpoint, and don't need/want optics, it's the 'thrift' option.
One big nit about the Maxspect is the models I've seen is they use large LED array chips for white light. I know which ones they are, and it's the biggest hit on efficiency of the thing and why it's wattage is so high. It's a classic example of the Chinese using the brute force approach. The more white light you like, the more the Cree based fixture will dominate. Since the chinese are hogging all the 440nm power LEDs you'd think they'd stuff some in the Maxspect and give it a unique selling point
I know the Maxspect looks more purple in the pictures, but I assume if you were to tweak the whites on the AI they are pretty close, right? No need for pictures.
PAR wise, it's more controversial. Theoretically the deeper blue should have more PAR even though it's visually not as bright. A difference in 10nm or so shouldn't make that much difference in terms of PAR, so the brighter emitter wins, and we know it's not the Semi :-)
It never ceases to amaze me to see MH being bested in PAR by LEDs.... the technology is moving faster than I ever expected.
Mixed reef: 6' wide 130g, driven by 100% LEDs by Sunbrite, and stuffed with SPS, chalices, other LPS, and a few softies.
Blog: PJR's Reef
What do you mean?? I thought MH technology was cutting edge? I thought the most outspoken people on forums always know best! (sarcasm)
LEDs will be everywhere in the next 5 years. Won't be long before there's a "replace your energy saving bulb" campaign
A fair amount of cynicism is acceptable when new products come out. There's a lot of people selling snake oil, not just in reefing, but everywhere.
I am sure that PFO's failure from a product standpoint (the lights never became decent products until the release of the I-5 series) gave fuel to the cynics.
MH is really great. Reliable, performs well, durable. My point was that LED is advancing far faster than I thought it would. Products like the PAR 38 type bulbs, AI, Sunbrite, Cree DIY efforts, and more are flooding the market. At this rate, the light bulb as we know it will be obsolete in a few years!
Mixed reef: 6' wide 130g, driven by 100% LEDs by Sunbrite, and stuffed with SPS, chalices, other LPS, and a few softies.
Blog: PJR's Reef
Cree Blues at 25% vs Semi-LED Blues and Violets at 100%
There's been a lot of discussion about Crees vs. Semi-LEDS so I wanted to see if I could create an example of equal PAR and color (as close as possible) between the AquaIllumination (Cree powered) and Maxspect (Semi-LED powered.)
In this photo, the G2 is running all of it's blue and violet LEDS at full power (14 Blue + 4 Violet = 18 LEDS @ 3watts = 54 Watts.)
The AIs are running all of their blues at 25% power (16 @ 3 watts = 48 Watts X 25% = 12 Watts)
At these settings, both are covering the same 24" of tank and are generating the same 190 PAR measured 6" directly below the center of each lights (note - the results were the same with second AI unit turned off so no light bled into the test.) The impact of the optics on the AIs is apparent.
As for the color, it's difficult to show blues in a photo (especially from a cell camera), the Maxspect Semi-LEDS have a distinct purple hue to hem. They also *appear* brighter, but much of this is a result of the reflection from the top of the water and light being spilled on the walls (the Maxspect is 7" above the tank but can't be lowered any further as it is at the limits of the hanging kit.)
I've gotten lots of inquiries regarding these lights. Choosing between these two platforms is tough as they represent very different approaches to LED lighting. Here are my observations on the pluses/minus directly comparing the AIs and G2...
+ Cree Powered - MASSIVE PAR availability with 10+ year bulb life.
+ Very good ramping controller - Sunrise/sunsets, mid-day PAR increases, vary blue and white output individually in 1% increments, full Lunar cycles with intensity.
+ Blue instead of Royal Blue - Provides "crisp" blue rather than the purple/violet appearance of the SemiLED Royal blues (subjective.)
+ 40 Degree Optics - Allows you to adjust coverage, appearance and PAR by changing the height with little or no light spillage.
+ US Made with phenomenal support.
+ Controller Interface - Profilux (and about to be released Neptune Apex) controller interface provides controller integration enabling advanced options such as clouds, thunderstorms...
- Initial acquisition costs.
- Tight optics limit coverage if placed in a hood or mounted just above a tank.
- At higher output levels (>80% whites) the color is less blue than some prefer.
- At the time this was written, there is a waiting list for purchase.
+ Inexpensive (especially in relation to the AIs')
+ No optics provide a greater coverage area if surface mounted
+ User replaceable SimiLEDS allow you to interchange individual white/blue/ violet LEDS to create custom color combinations.
+ Royal blues provide more "pop" when on by themselves (subjective.)
+ Built-in timer provides 3 channels of on/off scheduling for blue/violets, 3w whites and 30w whites.
+ Built in moonlight LEDS (on/off only - turn on when main LEDS turn off.)
- Lack of optics limits elevation options (much light spillage.)
- Less PAR than Crees powered lights (but still much more than MH/T5.)
- Color of SemiLED Royal blues has an overt purple/violet cast. This is especially noticeable when only the blues are on (subjective.)
- Rail kit blocks light from being evenly distributed
- 30W whites are much less blue than purported by the Mfg.
- No controller integration currently available or reported to be forthcoming
- Chinese made, no US based support at present. Any warranty or repair requires return shipping to China.
- Some initial quality concerns - There have been reports of some manufacturing concerns including issues such as DOAs, loose electrical connections in the timer box, LEDS mounted with little/poor thermal protection, bent rails or cooling fins. Although so far, it seems Maxspect has done a very good job of handling support and warranty repair (again subjective and based on RC posts as I have had no warranty issues.)
Notes- There was discussion about a Cree upgrade being available for the G2. I've seen contradicting comments regarding this, and have not seen any posts from a Cree based G2 owner. If available (and depending on the upgrade costs) this might be an viable option. Please remember, these are my personal observations based on owning the AIs and G2 and having them installed on side-by-side tanks. Much of this is subjective (especially comments pertaining to color output.) You're mileage will obviously vary
It is really nice to have this first hand review on this site. Thank you!!
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