Revised June 22, 2016
Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?
As readers already know, I clearly have a bias toward the TMC-AAP Aquaray LED lights.
For a little background, most of my aquarium service customer contract with me AFTER purchasing their equipment elsewhere, so I get to use many different products from many different manufacturers. This pattern has been prevalent since I started in about 1986, at first working for another.
In the end, some products are so bad that I cannot do my job well and I have to tell the service customer that they will need to change this product or I cannot continue or even start a new contract.
When it comes to lighting, I probably have at least some experience now with about 70% of the popular LED brands now available. Some others I have not but I have listened to others I respect and have applied common sense and have not recommended those 30% I have yet to use.
Nonetheless, most of the lights that I do have at least some experience with work well and these lights do the job they were intended for such as keeping a reef, planted or just plain fish tank. A couple of exceptions include the Marineland Double Bright, Aquatop, and a few others.
So my experience is not that there are not many capable LED lights, as the majority are more than capable!!
My practical experience as well as common sense has eventually brought me to my favorite when it has come to LED lighting.
This without a doubt is the Aquaray line of LED lights, so let me list off why I feel this way. Readers may not always agree, nonetheless, much of these reasons I list are based on factual reasons, not just simple subjective opinions.
- The highest water-resistant rating of any major LED (IP67).
This means your electronic lighting device that is placed in a wet aquatic environment has a chance of lasting more than a couple years.
From Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting:
“LED fixtures are NOT aquarium lights in the traditional sense, even the emitters are not a “bulb” as many people think. They are computer chips making micro-explosions, emitting photons in frequencies of waves. Some of these waves, we know as light.”
- The longest and best warranty of 5 years for the fixture. This warranty is also for full replacement, not what can be a weeks long repair, nor are there exceptions as with many others requiring a certain percentage of emitters be out before a warranty can be utilized.
- Highest output light energy per input energy, in other words the electrical input required to produce both the quantity and quality of light needed to keep reef or planted aquariums in particular.
- Similar to the above, the highest PUR using patented designs and licensed emitters that provide optimum light energy with less need to mix emitters to achieve this.
The result is a light that has an optimal man-made light energy, not a CRI that might look better or brighter to the user.
- Most options for light spread and more; Large and small tiles, strips, patented mounting system also optionally available.
- History; the Aquaray line of aquarium LED lights has been around since 2007 and has locked in some of the best patent designs, licensing agreements. Many of the new fixture while quite nice still has to operate around these designs which includes using multiple emitters to achieve what Aquaray can do with one or a few due to patent and licensing rights. Those who in 2015 & beyond who have never heard of this brand show that they have had their head up their a## in some forum that clearly spews out the same garbage over and over.
Part of this reason too in my opinion, is many of these persons live on the Internet where the same information is passed back and forth, so they never see what the down and dirty professionals are using.
The FACTS are the Aquaray line has always been marketed to the professionals, not forum sponsorships, so this results in a brand that is well known among many in professional circles and many brick & mortar retailers, but less well known among forum readers [with a few exceptions]
The above reasons are quite self explanatory and frankly hard to argue with.
In the end, while even the better economy brands such as Finnex or Fluval can keep your planted aquarium going nicely, any up-front savings is lost quickly as per my list of reasons and I have already witnessed early failures of these lights, in particular the Finnex.
When one of the brands I “inherit” with customer who purchased their aquarium set up elsewhere go belly up, this is often when I replace the light with an Aquaray.
I have already replaced lights for customers for total failures. Often moisture damage is a reason, although failed fans have killed a few LED fixtures too.
Another issue I have found is less than optimal emitter combinations, both for marine and freshwater applications.
An example is a freshwater BML LED strip fixture with three blue emitters. The amount of blue has a higher tendency to grow more algae.
This is nothing new either as both I and the person I purchased my aquarium service company from have used actinic blue fluorescent lights in combinations over the years and this almost always resulted more algae growth versus the use of a good pure 6500K trichromatic or Triton lamp.
Changing out to a pure noontime tropical sun 6500k emitter LED such as the Grobeam improved the algae issue. More subjectively I think the more natural daylight color looks better too.
Ditto some of use of amber emitters to make up desired light kelvin colors. This gets close to optimal light wavelengths for cyanobacteria, something warm white fluorescent lamps years back also had more issues with. In the end, changing lights improved cyanobacteria issues too.
Below are a couple of examples to make my point. Please note these are generic aquariums as my contracts protect privacy of my customers aquariums which I cannot use publicly.
This first pic is from a BML showing the too high blue color for most planted aquariums.
Please note that BML is now out of business as per aquarium LEDs. Be wary if purchasing one of these lights used, as they have issues due to heat causing silicone to separate from the fixture since these fixture often produce to much excess heat.