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Old 04/30/2010, 07:54 AM   #1
CalmSeasQuest
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AquaIllumination PAR Measurements

I received my Apogee MQ-200 PAR meter yesterday. It will take some time to get the entire tank 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 these things were PAR MONSTERS, but even so, I'm really impressed at the initial measurements.

6" - 1650
12" - 1370 (water surface)
16" - 915 (4" water depth)
19" - 690 (7" water depth)
24" - 560 (12" water depth)

*Lights are hung 12" above water surface. Measurements taken directly under one AI 70W unit at 100%W/100%B with the sensor placed in the center of the unit using the Sun setting on the MQ-200. The below-water 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.

Strangely, I seem to measure about a 10% difference between the 2 AI units. I'll define further as my technique improves.

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 also be testing for comparison, a 150W MH/T5 setup and once received, a Maxspect G2 160 LED setup and will post the results in this thread with photos (assuming I get get my camera back from my Son )


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Old 04/30/2010, 08:01 AM   #2
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Looking forward to see your results.


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Old 05/01/2010, 01:03 PM   #3
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I received the MaxSpect G2-160W and hung them 12" above the tank. Without optics, I'll probably need to lower them, but for comparison, they are hung the same height above the water as the AquaIllumination.


(sorry for the poor quality photo, I've not yet recovered my DSL.)

In this 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

*These measurements are probably +-10% as I haven't yet perfected a standardized way to hold the sensor.

Although the Maxspect "look" 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.

I'll take more measurements and photos as soon as I get my camera back.


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Current Tank Info: 96X30" 270Gal, Kessil 360WEs, BK250 Double Cone, 400 gal ASW station with continuous water change

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Old 05/01/2010, 01:09 PM   #4
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WOW!!! what a big difference.


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Old 05/01/2010, 01:18 PM   #5
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Great keep the readings coming in.Is AI and Maxspect using 3 w leds.


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Old 05/01/2010, 01:27 PM   #6
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And Max need replace LED every 1-2 years(info get from fish-street web side).


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Old 05/01/2010, 04:05 PM   #7
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Maxspect wants to sell you leds every 1-2 years, it is not required if the leds are still working perfectly. Go off the actual leds data sheets whether you choose cree or semi 3w units

Good review! Optics make a large difference when it comes to par vs distance.

What was the price you paid for the pair of AI units vs the single maxspect unit?

Last note, since the maxspect does not run optics on purpose & uses the leds lens which is a wide angle already, for those wanting to put it on a tank with any depth "not a shallow frag tank" you should keep the unit close to the water. For example many of us run them 3-4" off the water tops.

Last note, at full power, you gotta love the maxspect color vs the ai, well it is my color choice anyways The g2 uses a lot of blue leds & cool white.


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Old 05/01/2010, 04:34 PM   #8
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I agree Garage, at the 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 veiwing hours.

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 vewing difference is the slight purple hue produced by the violet LEDS in the MXS.


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Current Tank Info: 96X30" 270Gal, Kessil 360WEs, BK250 Double Cone, 400 gal ASW station with continuous water change
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Old 05/01/2010, 05:05 PM   #9
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Cool The UV leds do nothing for the tank visually, for a test, put tape over the 4 uv units. You will see no difference. I replaced them with 4 more blue. Makes it looks beautiful when the 30w units are off!


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Old 05/01/2010, 05:49 PM   #10
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In the photos. Do the AI's have a separate power supply for each module?


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Old 05/01/2010, 06:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
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In the photos. Do the AI's have a separate power supply for each module?
Yes, each module has it's own power cord. They are daisy chained together with a single controller cable.


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Old 05/01/2010, 06:35 PM   #12
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I see. The first generation ones shared one power supply to two modules.


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Old 05/01/2010, 07:17 PM   #13
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Good to have someone with real experience Tom thank very much but may I ask you someting

Compare the PAR is very usefull but I would like to know one to one unit measure in a 24x24 inch area and set the color to be same looking collor I think it will be more representative of the real usage most of us will do

AI have 2x white 6500k for 1x blue this combination is very good at producing PAR but I think most people include my self like a lot higher kelvin if not we will all still use Iwasaki 6k who have tons of PAR but make brown coral

wath is you impression about color?

I hope you understand my point as im french native sometime I have hard time expressing my point Im not criticizes you work but just want to be shure we could realy do a fair comparison

thank you again for you precious work

see you


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Old 05/01/2010, 07:19 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Haksar View Post
Great keep the readings coming in.Is AI and Maxspect using 3 w leds.
Yes both units use 3W leds, the maxspect units also having 30W leds along with 3W units. The AI units using 40 degree optics which is a major difference between the two.

Makes me wonder what slapping optics on a g2 160w would do since it uses 32qty 3w leds + 30w leds vs the ai 24qty 3w leds. If someone did a retro & added optics to a g2 160w, that would be one scary fixture.

Also, did not catch what the units ran price wise? I know what the g2 160w maxspects sell for which is usually in the $470 range ready to run. What do the AI's run? Do they come with the controller and all of the goodies / what was the price out the door for your pair? Just curious, I hear they are pricey but do not know who carries them to check price.

I did read a bit about the controller on the ai, it has some really cool features in comparison to the maxspect which just offers on / off timers for each set of leds. No fades or anything like that.


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Old 05/01/2010, 10:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephane View Post
Good to have someone with real experience Tom thank very much but may I ask you someting

Compare the PAR is very usefull but I would like to know one to one unit measure in a 24x24 inch area and set the color to be same looking collor I think it will be more representative of the real usage most of us will do

AI have 2x white 6500k for 1x blue this combination is very good at producing PAR but I think most people include my self like a lot higher kelvin if not we will all still use Iwasaki 6k who have tons of PAR but make brown coral

wath is you impression about color?

I hope you understand my point as im french native sometime I have hard time expressing my point Im not criticizes you work but just want to be shure we could realy do a fair comparison

thank you again for you precious work

see you
I just received the G2s, so I'm still forming my opinion. The AIs at higher power settings are far less blue than the G2 (I'd estimate it the color at 10K-12K.) But the ramping features of the AI controller give you the ability to instantly adjust the color with the turn of a knob. I haven't finished the PAR tests yet, but as seen in the second photo - you can adjust the color on the AIs to match the color of the G2 (turn down the white LEDS) and still have more than twice the PAR output.

They are both great lights, each having their strengths. The Maxspect provides a great value, minus the optics, controller and Crees. I don't know about their support.

So far, I personally prefer the AquaIllumination. The optics allow for higher mounting, the controller is excellent, they are made in the US and support has been nothing short of phenomenal. FWIW - Here's my experience with AquaIllumination support...

About 6 weeks ago, I was adjusting the AI's which are hung above my tank when I did something stupid. While attempting to raise the lights (did I mention they are PAR MONSTERS?) my hand slipped and raised the right end of the rails too high, causing one of the AIs to slide off the other end and fall directly into the tank...The light was dead and it was entirely my fault.

I contacted AI (on a Sunday), Chris said to send it in and they would take a look at it ASAP. It was overnighted on Monday, they received it on Tuesday, repaired it AND overnighted it back to me THE SAME DAY. I had fried the main system board. AquaIllumination had it repaired within hours of receiving it and because of their efforts, I was without the light for less 72 hours. The cost?...Absolutely nothing.

I'm hoping Maxspect support is equally good, especially since it will require return shipping to China.

All of that said, the most important factor will be how the corals respond - and for that, we'll have to wait.


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Old 05/02/2010, 06:27 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garage1217 View Post
Yes both units use 3W leds, the maxspect units also having 30W leds along with 3W units. The AI units using 40 degree optics which is a major difference between the two.

Makes me wonder what slapping optics on a g2 160w would do since it uses 32qty 3w leds + 30w leds vs the ai 24qty 3w leds. If someone did a retro & added optics to a g2 160w, that would be one scary fixture.

Also, did not catch what the units ran price wise? I know what the g2 160w maxspects sell for which is usually in the $470 range ready to run. What do the AI's run? Do they come with the controller and all of the goodies / what was the price out the door for your pair? Just curious, I hear they are pricey but do not know who carries them to check price.

I did read a bit about the controller on the ai, it has some really cool features in comparison to the maxspect which just offers on / off timers for each set of leds. No fades or anything like that.
Thanks Garage1217 for the inputs..


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Old 05/02/2010, 08:25 AM   #17
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CalmSeaQuest - Thank you!

this is great information and i'm glad to finally see it posted. i've wondered what my lights were capable of -- they've been supporting an s. gigantea anemone for a few months with great results, but i had poor results with my first attempts at keeping corals. it seems i was probably cooking them since i had the lights 4 inches above the water line on a 16 inch tall tank (w/ corals mid way no less). but since everyone assumes that LEDs are somehow not as powerful as MH or other sources I began to question, and i never knew if i should increase or decrease the intensity. I read the official AI posting but the results were so off the charts i thought it was marketing. anyways, thank you for posting your take (i'm assuming you're an independent hobbyist not affiliated with them of course!)

thanks and keep posting!

if you can show us what the PAR output is at different benchmarks that would be great too (100% blue 0% white, 75/75, 50/50 etc).


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Old 05/02/2010, 08:57 AM   #18
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Aren't the lenses responsible for you PAR readings? Just by looking at the pictures, I can see the that the Maxspect illuminates the walls much more than the AI at that height.


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Old 05/02/2010, 10:26 AM   #19
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CalmSeaQuest - Thank you!

this is great information and i'm glad to finally see it posted. i've wondered what my lights were capable of -- they've been supporting an s. gigantea anemone for a few months with great results, but i had poor results with my first attempts at keeping corals. it seems i was probably cooking them since i had the lights 4 inches above the water line on a 16 inch tall tank (w/ corals mid way no less). but since everyone assumes that LEDs are somehow not as powerful as MH or other sources I began to question, and i never knew if i should increase or decrease the intensity. I read the official AI posting but the results were so off the charts i thought it was marketing. anyways, thank you for posting your take (i'm assuming you're an independent hobbyist not affiliated with them of course!)

thanks and keep posting!

if you can show us what the PAR output is at different benchmarks that would be great too (100% blue 0% white, 75/75, 50/50 etc).
Thanks - I also severely bleached many SPS when I first got my AIs. It took me months to figure out I was simply blasting them with too much light. This is what prompted me to invest in a PAR meter - I didn't want to repeat the same mistakes with the Maxspect.

I'll be doing lots of PAR measuring, including at depth and with different white/blue power settings. One thing that really surprised me was how powerful the blue Crees were. JUST the blues running at 100% @ 6" produce 710 PAR!

Quote:
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Aren't the lenses responsible for you PAR readings? Just by looking at the pictures, I can see the that the Maxspect illuminates the walls much more than the AI at that height.
Partially, as the Maxspect don't use optics, there is much light being bled outside of the tank with them hung at 12". The Maxspect aren't designed to be mounted that high. I placed them there just for PAR comparison to the AIs. Regardless of the optics, the Cree LEDS put out significantly more PAR than the Semi-leds used in the Maxspect.

As for the PAR readings, the only measurements I've released so far have been centered directly under the light and from very close distances (6" and 12".) as such, those measurements aren't effected by the height of the light

Regarding the optics - I purchased the G2 specifically because it didn't have optics. While I prefer the AIs, for use over a shallow Frag tank, the amount of power and tight 40 degree optics would have been very difficult to manage. The fact the G2s were much less expensive was a bonus. They are both great lights, they just have differing performance profiles.

Regardless of the brand, these are a "quantum" (sorry - I couldn't resist) leap over any MH/T5 option.


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Old 05/02/2010, 10:38 AM   #20
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Can you compare 1 Ai unit to the Maxspect? Also, can you put the maxspect at a few inches above the water level as instructions stated? Also, can you measure on the edges of the tanks at different depths. I will be putting 3 on my 180G IF they cover a 2'x2'x2' cube of water well.With the maxspects, i was told 3 for 72", while an AI system is 6 for the same area.


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Old 05/02/2010, 11:20 AM   #21
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Can you compare 1 Ai unit to the Maxspect? With the maxspects, i was told 3 for 72", while an AI system is 6 for the same area.
I am planning on taking PAR measurements with only 1 AI unit running, although the close-in numbers will be about the same. There is very little (if any) bleed over from the other AI unit at 6" and 12"

The coverage area simply depends on the height they are mounted. When I first got my AIs, the hanging kit was not yet available. With them resting on the tank, just a few inches above the water, even with 2 units, there were shadow areas on a 24" tank. This was exacerbated by the fact my DT is relatively shallow (DSB at 15") AND the 2000+ PAR generated by the AIs was cooking everything in the very top of the tank.

To be fair, the shadows were just as bad with the G2. The Maxspect rails sit even lower. On my shallow frag tank, most of the corners and edges were dark when using the G2 rails mounting on top of the tank. I currently have them raised 7" above and it provides nice illumination throughout, although there is still light spillage on the walls.

If these tanks were deeper, the coverage challenges would not have been as bad.

The AI's optics allow you to raise the lights, increase the spread and still maintain big PAR numbers. There's a great DIY LED build by Santoki on RC showing very similar lights (24 Crees/40 degree optics) mounted to a ceiling 4'+ above his tank that is beautiful and includes very impressive PAR readings.


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Current Tank Info: 96X30" 270Gal, Kessil 360WEs, BK250 Double Cone, 400 gal ASW station with continuous water change
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Old 05/02/2010, 12:14 PM   #22
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Not sure if you saw this, but the maxspect units are available with cree leds. They are optional over the semi leds / at an increased cost. The semi leds providing better cool white led color / overall color than the cree option but do not have the vicious output of the crees.

Not sure if it was said on led qty
- AI uses 16 white 3w leds to 8 blue 3w leds
- The maxspect g2 160w using in stock form 14 blue 3w / 4 uv 3w / 14 white 3w / 2 30W per fixture.
- This AI test has me intrigued as the lesser g2 110 watt model fitted with optics would be a literal budget monster.

The reason I was asking about price is not for what you may think. We all know these are in two different realms price wise from what I understand & cater to two different customers for the most part. I wanted to find out what the cost was & then my next question would be asking you to put a kilowatt on the AI to find out actual energy consumption over your programmed photoperiod.

For example, the g2 160w tested at an actual 160w draw with everything on. However when I average the wattage draw over my 10 hour photo period, the numbers come out to 120.5W since each bank of lights is controller on seperate on/off non dimmable timers. The AI is said to use 70w, but it will not of course with white leds dimmed. If the AI averages 40w for example, I then wanted to calculate for myself what the payoff time would be in comparison between the two units out of the box when it comes to energy consumption as the AI already has the Maxspect beat by quite a bit wattage wise from the manufacturers specs. This may help some swing to the ai or may swing some to the maxspect if one was on the fence about the purchase. Just depends on what the numbers say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalmSeasQuest View Post
Thanks - I also severely bleached many SPS when I first got my AIs. It took me months to figure out I was simply blasting them with too much light. This is what prompted me to invest in a PAR meter - I didn't want to repeat the same mistakes with the Maxspect.

I'll be doing lots of PAR measuring, including at depth and with different white/blue power settings. One thing that really surprised me was how powerful the blue Crees were. JUST the blues running at 100% @ 6" produce 710 PAR!



Partially, as the Maxspect don't use optics, there is much light being bled outside of the tank with them hung at 12". The Maxspect aren't designed to be mounted that high. I placed them there just for PAR comparison to the AIs. Regardless of the optics, the Cree LEDS put out significantly more PAR than the Semi-leds used in the Maxspect.

As for the PAR readings, the only measurements I've released so far have been centered directly under the light and from very close distances (6" and 12".) as such, those measurements aren't effected by the height of the light

Regarding the optics - I purchased the G2 specifically because it didn't have optics. While I prefer the AIs, for use over a shallow Frag tank, the amount of power and tight 40 degree optics would have been very difficult to manage. The fact the G2s were much less expensive was a bonus. They are both great lights, they just have differing performance profiles.

Regardless of the brand, these are a "quantum" (sorry - I couldn't resist) leap over any MH/T5 option.



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If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? ~ Albert Einstein

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Current Tank Info: Systems and goodies by Lee-Mar / Coralvue / Neptune Systems / Jager / Spectrapure / Cree / Meanwell + more!
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Old 05/02/2010, 12:43 PM   #23
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Aquaillumination LED

I own 6 modules of the second generation AI led just sent 3 units back to be upgraded to the new cree bulbs...Price and customer support is excellent. Chris is the best to deal with.couldn't be happier with these lights..American made all the way with a caring responsible owner.can't beat the combo!!!!


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Old 05/02/2010, 12:44 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Garage1217 View Post
Not sure if you saw this, but the maxspect units are available with cree leds. They are optional over the semi leds / at an increased cost. The semi leds providing better cool white led color / overall color than the cree option but do not have the vicious output of the crees.

The reason I was asking about price is not for what you may think. We all know these are in two different realms price wise from what I understand & cater to two different customers for the most part. I wanted to find out what the cost was & then my next question would be asking you to put a kilowatt on the AI to find out actual energy consumption over your programmed photoperiod.
Thanks Garage,

Great point about the availability of Crees on the Maxspect. In my case, it wasn't needed with such a shallow tank (Semis work fine on a 8" depth tank ) but for use over a DT, and depending on what the additional cost is - IMO, the Crees would be strongly preferred.

As for the colors being less blue at high power settings - With the Crees in the AI, if you don't like the color, simply turn the controller knob and create whatever shade of blue you prefer, the controller will then duplicate it for you each photoperiod. It appears (based on early PAR measurements and as seen in the second photo) that even with a single 70W AI unit with the white LEDS turned way down, you'll still have significantly more PAR output than a Semi-LED powered G2 at max power.

As for pricing, I think it's pretty standard with AI, and I believe there is still a waiting list. I want to avoid any commercial content/vendor references in this thread to avoid running afoul of RC rules. The Aquaillumination website lists resellers and pricing is available through them online.

Regarding electricity usage - Because the AI controller supports custom, separate ramping for both the blue and white LEDS (plus lunar timing and intensity) it would be very difficult to come up with a standard as every user and tank would be significantly different.


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Current Tank Info: 96X30" 270Gal, Kessil 360WEs, BK250 Double Cone, 400 gal ASW station with continuous water change
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Old 05/02/2010, 10:09 PM   #25
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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.)


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The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw

Current Tank Info: 96X30" 270Gal, Kessil 360WEs, BK250 Double Cone, 400 gal ASW station with continuous water change
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