Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

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.

Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review, by TMC AAPWhen 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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

    Ref: PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

  5. Most options for light spread and more; Large and small tiles, strips, patented mounting system also optionally available.
  6. 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.
Build My LED Freshwater Light with blue tint

This pic shows GroBeam 600 strips over an aquarium and the more natural color
GroBeam LED lights with more natural daylight color

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AquaRay Aquarium LED; Reef Central

Reef Central is a popular forum with many marine fish keepers.
As readers of my “Aquarium Opinions” posts will notice that I also call this forum out for a lot of incorrect information, such as in my last post for making ludicrous statements that certain UV Sterilizers did not even exist that do IN FACT exist as well as ludicrous statements about UV Sterilizer customer service.

Since TMC and their AquaRay lighting seems to be one of their favorite kicking boys, likely due to the fact they do not pay the big bucks in sponsorships as other LED manufacturers who spend much more on marketing and hype, I will be standing in for their defense.
In this post, I will look at several points made by Reef Central members and comment on them.
I will note that some very well thought out comments were also made in Reef Central threads

I shall also note that as per my Home Page mission statement, I am simply a professional aquarium service and design person, and as well, do not link to any sellers of said equipment.
I simply do not like to see bullsh## information being put forth as fact and yes my observations has shown the TMC AquaRay (as well as UV Sterilizers to be among the best, if not THE BEST)

First here is my outline as to while I support the LEDs I do in my aquarium service business:
Why Aquaray LED Light Fixtures, Review?

SO HERE WE GO:

  1. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “If there is not a Cree data sheet that shows these magic emitters nor a publicly available patent then these claims are not true. 10 LED fixture with no controls for $290? No thanks.”
    Ref:
    http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2181083

    MY RESPONSE:
    An unfortunately typical argument attacking facts using hyperbole.
    No dude, there are no magic emitters. Only emitters that AquaRay has paid to Cree and others for specific licensing, nothing magic about this and quite a regular practice in the manufacturing industry too.

    As well, the facts/science of PUR are applied in selection of emitters used, not what just looks good such as green emitters.
    In fact, a CBS news report about indoor farms backed up the facts that PUR is what is important and that there is nothing magical about using specific PUR emitters rather that hitting the whole PAR spectrum as most Aquarium LEDs market their lights to [such as Ocean Revive, EcoTech, etc.] with the help of either misinformed, clueless, or maybe even deceptive graphs that only measure PAR and thus give higher ratings to lights that put out high PAR, but with much of it in spectrums that might look good to us, but is useless for plant or symbiotic zooxanthellae required by corals.
    This farm used ONLY the spectrums required for growth, in other words PUR which means “photosynthetically useful radiation”. this in the end wastes much less electricity and requires a lower measurable PAR do do the job over lights employing green, yellow, & cool white emitters.

    These are both observable facts that such garbage posts like this one at Reef Central ignore.

    Aquarium LED PAR, Green emitter Zero PUR

    References:
    #Cree Licensing Programs
    #LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; How they work
    #PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED)
    #CBS News; Vertical Farms

  2. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “I still cringe any time anyone uses the term PUR in marketing lights. The bottom line ia we have seen beautiful tanks running LED fixtures such as AI, Ecotech, Kessil, Maxspect, ect… They have proven that they can continue to produce great results over the years. The EcoRay products have been out for years yet there are very few if any tanks out there using them much less showing off their success.”

    Another well thought out comment answered this:
    By Reef Central member; “They’re a household name in Europe. As far as I know, there’s only 1 distributor here in the states.

    PUR is a completely appropriate topic though when it comes to lights. It’s still another measurement that means something. It’s not just a fancy word like AI, Radion, Kessil, Maxspect would like you to believe.
    You might think PUR is unnecessary or the brand isn’t well known, I see the opposite of this.

    Why does nobody use the balling lite system, or even the Triton method? I don’t see a lot on the Triton method, that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant. That’s why I enjoy my time on the European forums more than the US forums. Any way you slice it, the Europeans and other countries have been keeping fish much longer than the United States folks. I surely won’t dismiss anyones methods etc, but I think the bottom line is they have more participation in the fishkeeping hobby. (by several hundreds years at least)

    Over in the European forums you see these crazy tanks running for years with no water changes yet doing just fine supplementing additives.
    In the USA, people say additives are the devil and I see the majority of people asking how to keep some of the basic chemistry in check.

    I won’t make any assumptions on who’s right, but I see a lot of bickering on the US forums as compared to legitimate progress between multiple people in the Euro forums. It’s definitely something to think about.”
    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    RESPONSE:
    As this member at Reef Central stated, PUR IS IMPORTANT, and despite awesome marketing by AI & Ecotech along with their minions, PUR is necessary

    Again I reference this article:
    #PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED)

    I will also point out just how much time and effort goes into marketing EcoTech here at Reef Central alone.
    Look at proof of just how active the “EcoTech” sponsor is in “Reef Central”
    Reference:
    http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2428081

    4798 as of this blog post.
    This is an incredible number as I know a friend who sponsors a forum and has been very active since 2006 in this forum visiting it every day and answering question after question and he is at about 6800 post, so for these people to hit these kinds of number so quickly shows a lot of where their marketing is and why they are so well known to member of Reef Central.

    This certainly does not prove the EcoTech is inferior [or better], but certainly shows that marketing is their main strategy of selling this product

  3. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “I’m looking into getting some Aquaray Aquabeam 2000 & 1500. Underdogs with less marketing are more compelling to me.”
    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    RESPONSE:
    I agree as to less hype and marketing tells me where their emphasis is.

    In truth, as another honest Reef Central member noted, the AquaRay brand is well known in Europe where they are often more advanced and are not driven so much by marketing.
    If one has been into automobiles for some time as I have, all I have to think about is the Pontiac Aztec that was heavily marketed. Does this make it a better vehicle than a Mercedes Benz that I do not see as much advertising for?

    While my analogy is certainly flawed, my point is marketing costs money that could be going into product build.
    Why for instance do EcoTech Radions need fans?
    The response is so simple and is easily answered by Middle School science in that this excess heat that requires fans equals energy that is not going into light energy!!

  4. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “I’ve got the 2000’s on a 75 gallon.
    I have them 1″ above the water, in the water just under surface is 1100-1200 par, about 12″ under the surface they give off 500-600 par, at the sand (around 17″ under) they give about 100-150 par.

    On a side note, my firestorm monti grows like a weed under these compared to miniscule growth under a 150w MH. (ya, it surprised me)

    They’re well worth it for cost savings, PWM makes the difference. But their controller is as generic as an outlet timer. (you can only do ramp on/off and levels and thunderstorm mode)

    I will not go into details as to scientific evidence, that is often very basic, that is often ignored in so many forum articles about Aquarium LED lighting, rather I will cite further reading references.”

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    MY RESPONSE:
    This should come as no surprise to anyone who has pulled their head out of their a## and looked past Reef Central, checked out the more science based information online, and cracked open a Middle School level science book

  5. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “Any company that creates a comparison chart for marketing purposes and use “poor warranty” under cons for Kessil and Ecotech Radion is selling snake oil. Sorry but that is just ridiculous and couldn’t be further from the truth. At least for US based customers. Both Ecotech and Kessil have some of the best support in the industry and back their warranties like no other. Further that, TMC doesn’t even offer contact info on their US website so even with their 5 year warranty, who is one supposed to contact? TMC/Tropical Marine Centre makes decent products but they are based in the UK. I used their commercial UV filters for many years before switching to AquaUV.

    That said, unless you are in Europe, forget about support. Quality Marine is said to be a wholesaler and doesn’t provide end user support so god forbid you have an issue, you are going to be having a good time getting decent support let alone warranty service.

    As for their light output. The truth is in the PAR numbers and from what I can see, these are better suited as Nano lights. “

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    MY RESPONSE:
    I have already dealt with this persons rather rude comments that make no sense in a post about UV Sterilizers.
    This guy made up information in the UV thread and now has the gall to make up more facts as he sees them:

    My response from:
    https://aquariumopinions.com/2014/11/05/aqua-ultraviolet-versus-tmc-uv-sterilizers-reef-central/

    Sorry dude, TMC support is superior just because it is retailer based.
    Let me ask readers what would rather have as a return policy using a laptop computer as an example:
    You have a choice between two laptops of similar value, with one it can be brought back to the store for an exchange or parts replacement, or the other you have to send away to the manufacturer and wait several weeks to get your laptop back?
    I think most would take the first quicker option; sorry dude!

    I would add to this previous analogy that if you bought your automobile in Los Angeles, would you rather send it to where it was put together or the local dealership you purchased at?
    Again this guys logic is extremely flawed.
    ion.
    It is an outright lie that you will not get warranty service from TMC, as I already noted it is done through the dealers including the largest North American seller, who I will not mention since the policy of this blog is to not plug retailers or their website. Turn around is within one business day and includes a new fixture. I know that just in 2014 I had a fixture have one emitter out and I got a newer updated fixture to replace it immediately, no sending in for repairs.

    How is a warranty that is much shorter snake oil, whose Kool Aid has he been drinking? This is the kind of Kool Aid logic I would expect from Putins or Obamas, NOT what should be a fact driven responsible aquarium forum!!

    This high post count Reef Central character loves to make up information or downright lies as he goes along whether it be UV Sterilizers or Reef Lighting, and he is just one good reason Reef Central has little credibility for good information.

    He still clearly does not get that a light using a higher percentage of green emitters is WASTING energy input as light energy that is USELESS to photosynthetic life, while still making great PAR numbers.

    He needs to check out the CBS news story where only the essential PUR lighting spikes have been proven to be all that is needed for photosynthetic life.
    He also clearly does not understand the simple fact that energy wasted as heat is energy NOT going to lighting.

    Lastly, what this person seems to not grasp is no one I know that is reputable is saying the EcoTech or Kessil does not keep reef life, ONLY that it takes less input wattage for an AquaRay to do the same job.

    Am I or others saying that a 30 watt AquaRay Reef White NP 2000 [with a PAR 380 uEinsteins/sec/m2 @15 inches] has a higher useful light output than a 90 watt Kessil?
    NO, but 30 watts of this premium AquaRay LED is likely equal to the output of 50-60 watts of a Kessil or EcoTech

  6. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “Another measurement? How can you say that. Every brand you just mentioned produces more PUR than the Aquaray. And the reason I can say that is because my measurement is as accurate as anyone else’s regarding PUR. All the fixtures you mentioned produce more than enough PAR for photosynthesis of our animals. The only difference is that there are several examples out there with long term results using those other fixtures. Show us the results of those using the Aquaray. I want to see before and after shots with the Aquaray. Maybe a year or so of progress. Not just pics of some tank that pulled off the MH or T5, put up the Aquaray and took photos.”

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    MY RESPONSE:
    REALLY? When they use green, amber, or cool white emitters?
    Does he really understand PUR???
    As for PAR, watt per watt, the useful PUR is higher with an AquaRay!

    What this guy misses is the AquaRay has been around longer than these others, they have simply not marketed to gullible aquarium forums!
    There are many places using the AquaRay for more than just Nano Applications, such as the “Oceanography Centre in London” and my NON nano reef tank clients.

    Below is a reef aquarium I was given permission to share utilizing ONLY AquaRay NP 1500 & 2000 tiles that has been running over a year with AquaRay from the beginning .

    Acropora Reef Aquarium running AquaRay AquaBeam LED Lights, Lighting

  7. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member (the same character that makes up bs all over the place about uv sterilizers and LED lights); “FWIW, that Fish-as-pets site link you posted happens to be owned by the distributor American Aquarium Products. That is marketing fluff being promoted by the distributor. Certainly not an objective comparison. “

    I see in this thread that they went after the author of the Fish as Pets article comparing the EcoTech to an AquaRay cited by another member who dared to mess with the RC Reef Police, YET, there was nothing mysterious about who this author is.
    WHAT!?
    The author clearly says who he is at the end and CLEARLY explains his reasons in scientific terms why he went with the AquaRay, why should he not sell this brand. Further investigation of the author of this article by reading “Business Bio”, it is clear he has been at this for 4 decades with a lot of time, research, 1000s of hours of hands on experience, and effort put forth.
    Furthermore, this is ludicrous reasoning!! Should someone whose research leads him to believe that an Apple lap top is better than a Windows not then recommend the Apple? Does this discredit him or her? Of course not!!!

    Moreover, considering the authors time in the hobby and business which I easily found with remedial “detective” work, this dude’s comments are rather disrespectful, but hell, that is the generation we live in where insulting others is the norm.

  8. COMMENT:
    By Reef Central member; “Shilling is still shilling, no matter how you wish to spin it. Shilling gets you removed from this forum, and you brought that on yourself so when you continue to badmouth RC on your blogs, remember you are the one who chose to ignore the rules. It is as simple as that. You will not be missed and this thread will remain for all to see in perpetuity. You will be your own worse enemy. “

    From:
    http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2391677

    In my 1/15/15 revision to this post, I find this personal attack rather interesting.
    First this dude does not even know the definition of a shill

    Here is is for those who do not:
    “A shill, also called a plant or a stooge, is a person who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization.

    “Shill” typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that they are an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) for whom they are secretly working”

    Reference:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shill

    I do not think this person person fits this definition unless they have had one too many liberal Kool Aids.
    Never once did this person attempt to sell a product or pose as a customer that I can see, only defend lies put forth as facts!

    More importantly, I could NOT find attacks on RC by this person that everyone seems to decided to dishonestly pile on, either here or any any blogs.

  9. What it comes down to, is Reef Central loses any credibility with its inability to moderate, as the thread noted is not a debate as one RC member would have you believe, it is about spreading lies as facts, making those who disagree with the company line that AquaRays are junk to feel two inches tall, and basically talking out of one’s ass with personal attacks and name calling rather than the facts.

    In the end, the best thing RC can do is leave this thread up as it shows the nastiness of many who reside on this forum.
    I am sure some forum lurkers will agree with this dishonest member who makes up definitions on the fly, but frankly such persons with bully attitudes are not the type of person any honest person would want to deal with, unless your name is maybe Vladimir Putin.
    I think honest/moral persons will see how rude persons are at RC and not believe a word they say.

    My advice to person attacked here and the other honest RC member is the same I give to my service customers; avoid this forum like the plague.

    Further Resources:
    #PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Lighting (LED); Fresh & Saltwater (Reef)
    #LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting; How they work, DIY
    #St. Marys Marine Biology LED Experiments
    #This shallow reef tank makes up in vibrant life what it lacks in height
    #EcoTech Radion Versus TMC Aqua Ray HO LED Aquarium Lights

    Gregg – 2015

TaoTronics, SunSpect, SkyLED, Skkye Marine, LED Light Reviews

Revised 12-12-15

Please also read this article for a factual explanation of many of the points I make against these Aquarium LED Lights:
Aquarium LED Lights, Controllers, RGB, Emitters; What is Best?

OVERVIEW

These are three possibly four of the more questionable LEDs on the market if considered for a reef aquarium.
Sadly many actually purchase these due than often less than honest marketing by companies such as Amazon or eBay thinking they might get a “top notch” Reef Compatible LED, which the TaoTronics/SunSpect might be reef compatible, but MOST CERTAINLY NOT top notch.
Even your savings, since these are as little as $90 usd is of little good when the fixture goes belly up from moisture damage or is accidentally dropped in the aquarium since cheap Chinese made fixtures do not have an adequate water resistance/proof rating for an aquarium environment. Keep in mind that even the short warranty on these LEDs does not cover damage from water.

It is also worthy of note that the reef compatibility comes at a higher cost in electricity used due to less efficient emitters, drivers, & especially controllers used, as per PUR NOT PAR despite many claims of PAR µMol readings while overlooking the VASTLY more important “Useful Energy”/PUR.
As an example; basic science and math tells you that if you are using emitters that produce 20% more green and yellow spectrum light energy than another whose emitters produce 20% less, you are NOT going have the same PUR, which means a higher wattage, PAR rating, and higher carbon footprint will be required for the same results!

Marketing claims include “replaces a 400 watt Metal Halide”. REALLY? I do not think so, maybe a 175 Metal Halide at best, especially when one considers how much wasted energy goes out as heat compared to better technology LED lights that utilize PWM, and more light energy is lost in less than optimum efficiency emitters and drivers.

The Sky LED is not at all reef capable, only fish capable, although at least the Sky LED is not marketed for such either.

TaoTronics Aquarium Reef LED Light Fixture, ReviewThe TaoTronic [AKA the SunSpect], which is unfortunately marketed as a high end reef capable LED light.

While a few of the reviews might be good, lets look at the facts, if only from their own literature.

[1] Requires cooling fans;
Why? A well made LED fixture such as the ‘top notch’ AquaRay, or others should NOT require a cooling fan, only heat sinks.
Half the cost in building a top notch Reef LED (or planted freshwater LED) is the circuitry/driver/controller that maintains important voltage over all emitters, otherwise issues of nanometer spikes, excess heat, etc. can arise and the fact this LED fixture requires a cooling fan speaks volumes.
Again, VERY BASIC SCIENCE says that heat energy equals LOST ENERGY that will NOT go to light energy, so the fact these LED fixtures and so many others as well require a cooling fan again simply means a higher wattage LED fixture is required to do the job.

Why do these require a cooling fan?
Most LED fixtures, including the Taotronics utilize the very inefficient Current Reduction technology to run their LEDs rather than the more efficient PWM technology.
“Current Reduction” produces much more excess heat, and also changes the light spectrum.
This excess heat represents wasted energy that must be made in extra emitters to do the job of a much better designed LED fixture (such as the before mentioned AquaRay).

See also Aquarium LED Lights, Controllers, RGB, Emitters; The FACTS

In summary, the use of cooling fans is often a symptom of poor circuitry/drivers/controllers that produce excess heat.
Please read further as to why the drivers/circuitry DO play a major role in the quality of light produced by an LED!!

[2]The next problem with all Taotronics lights is these are not water proof, in other words not a water proof design of IP67.
So what this mean is your low cost LED, which is a light emitting electronic device is now being place in wet aquatic environment with a warranty of one year.
What happens if it stops working in 15 months?

Worse as in the case of a service customer that contacted me after they purchased one on Ebay, then they proceeded to accidentally drop one of the two fixtures they purchased in the water. The result, this light failed and the warranty would not cover the light even though just purchased two months earlier.

What it really comes down to when it comes to the Taotronics/Sunspect LEDs and anyone who thinks they are getting a bargain, I have this quote:
“A fool and their money are soon parted”!!!!

[3] Why are so many emitters required???

This is similar to the shotgun approach to using early T12 fluorescent lights 25 years ago; why when there are excellent new generation Cree, Osram Olson, and Orphek powered LEDs available!!
This is not to say the TaoTronics cannot work, rather why go with this energy wasteful older generation emitter technology when there are better LED Light Fixtures that use less energy, produce more PUR, and likely will last longer since the Taotronics only has 2/5 of the warranty (with better companies standing behind them too)??

[4] As well, and thoughtful reader should note that the exact Kelvin, emitter bins, etc., are not cited. Even a simple Spectrograph has not been submitted by TaoTronics!
This is for the reason that these daylight emitters are far from exacting. In fact I challenge any reader to go down to their local hardware store and purchase similar wattage “bright daylight” flashlight LEDs and produce the exact same results as these low end LED fixtures that essentially utilize cool white daylight emitters and less exacting older generation blue emitters.

I also challenge those who would argue that utilizing a cool white emitter is OK for good results; WOULD you use a ‘Cool White’ T5, CFL, or Metal Halide Light over your Reef Aquarium?
The answer in just a quick scan of the Internet of what others say is NO!! So why is it OK for an LED Fixture to use these emitters??

BTW, I am NOT saying adequate results might still be achieved with these LEDs and opportunistic specimen placement. One is simply achieving results in a shotgun type method with a lot of wasted energy!!

[5] Another aspect that many persons are not aware when it comes to exacting light energy produced by a well designed LED fixture is the drivers that keep voltage over each emitter to VERY exact voltages.
One cannot “daisy chain” LED light emitters together like you can Christmas lights.

Here is a quote from Sunspect LED listing on Ebay:
“All LEDs with a zener to ensure one LED goes out the rest continue to operate”
This can only happen if these are daisy chained together.
So again think twice if you are really getting a quality light with the Sunspect or Taotronics, as again all you are getting is cheap Chinese cr## that might work for a while, but not very long.
Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisy_chain_%28electrical_engineering%29

Each individual emitter can change the voltage to other emitters, if only by fractions, however with an LED emitter designed to produce exacting light energy, this can make a big difference light spectral quality.
LEDs are not typical lights such as a CFL, these are essentially electronic devices that emit light!!!
As well, the FACTS are Pulse width modulation (PWM) is required to maintain spectral quality and the TaoTronics DOES NOT utilize this expensive technology, rather the much less expensive current reduction reduction method as noted earlier!

The bottom line is; the more emitters, the more complex and expensive the drivers, so when you have a fixture such as this TaoTronics LED with a shotgun approach of emitters yet with essentially no adequate drivers, you are essentially stringing hardware store LED flashlights together over your aquarium.
There is no way one can have an LED fixture for the price of the TaoTronics with complex drivers any more than a $300 Laptop is going to have Intel’s best computer processor. Of course the answer is simple with these cheap Chinese Drivers.

Please Reference:
Aquarium LED Light Information; Overview

Another TaoTronics LED, the “TaoTronics LED Aquarium Coral Reef Tank Blue White 2:1 LED” uses too many blue emitters for the average depth aquarium these are used for, thus lacking adequate Photosynthetic response.

This quote from Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting sums it up well:
“Think of it this way, if you have an automobile that is designed to run on 91 octane fuel and you use 89 octane, likely your vehicle will still run, but not to its potential and with possible long term damage too; this is what happens when not all aspects of Photosynthetic response are met due to over use of blue lighting in a relatively shallow aquarium.”
Also check our the many references cited by the above quoted article for those who want to continue to believe non scientific observations.

See Also: Blue Moon Aquatics LED
The above reference has the Spectrogram published by Blue Moon showing vastly more blue than is best for an average reef tank.
This LED is made in the EXACT same factory in China (which builds these LEDs for distribution under any company willing to purchase and place their name on the product).

Between the older generation emitters (especially with the “TaoTronics Aquarium Coral Reef Tank White/Blue LED Lamp 120 Watt”), low quality drivers & controllers, shotgun approach to lighting, poor PUR is going to be the result!

Further Comments

The other perplexing question is why anyone would spend close to $200 for this LED when for $300 or less, one could have a 100% new generation reef capable LED that uses much less electricity in the AquaRay 2000 or 1500 Ultima, or even the lesser but still capable AI Sol, or EcoTech LEDs??
Recommended References:
Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting; What to Know for Reef/Planted
Aqua Illumination Sol LED Review
EcoTech Radion & Radion PRO LED Review
Recommended Resource for Planted Aquarium LED Review:
Customer GroBeam 1000/1500 Review

What is so absurd is the persons who might brag how they have kept reef life with their Taotronics Aquarium LED and have spent less money up front.
But are these persons saving money?
NO, not when it takes 2.25 to 3 watts per gallon for a Taotronics to achieve the same results as an AquaRay 2000 NP Ultima at only .8 watt per gallon. THIS IS TRIPLE THE WATTAGE!
This defeats the purpose of purchasing an LED Aquarium Light in the first place, to save on electricity and lower heat produced by Metal Halide lights.

As an example of this absurdity; you are going to replace your (2) 150 watt Metal Halide fixtures on a 75 gallon reef aquarium, only to purchase (2) 120 watt Taotronics.
You have only saved a total of 60 watts to questionably do the same job??
While you could have purchase (2) AquaRay Ocean Blue 1500s at 30 watts each (60 watts total) to do this same job of lighting a 75 gallon reef aquarium.

Not to mention the reliability of these Taotronic LEDs and their cooling fans that have been reported to actually catch on fire, and one has to wonder about the logic that goes into purchasing the Taotronics LED just to save a few dollars up front?????
The Warranty is only two years, limited too (repairs), compared to 5 year for the industry leading AquaRay at 5 years (full replacement).
See my post about warranties: Aquarium LED Warranties

I HIGHLY suggest reading this very informative article by anyone even remotely considering the TaoTronics LED:
Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting; How they work

For more about my response as to the TaoTronic LED from those such as a person who attacked me from 3reef.com/forums with disingenuous “straw man” arguments, please read this editorial on my Home Page:
Commentary on Attacks from 3Reef.com

Finally on a related note, as person who has a lot of time and experience invested in the aquarium hobby, I hear and see much of what my clients have purchased or have been told.
One common thread is the junk often sold via Amazon or the terribly inaccurate Amazon social media driven reviews which often have absolutely no bases in fact, often due to incomplete sales of many products for proper function (to keep the price low) such as the Rena Smart Filter.
The Taotronics LEDs are a further example of why Amazon is not the place to purchase or get accurate aquarium supply information.

See my newer article about Amazon based on an email forwarded to me by a friend in the industry:
Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via Amazon

SkyLED Aquarium LED Light Fixture, Review, from Pet Mountain, TruaquaThe SkyLED along with the Marine Skkye is another vastly inferior LED, however at least it is not generally marketed as anything more than a large decorative LED Fish only aquarium light.

The popular SkyLED 36 inch model has (378) bright white, blue, and red LEDs; none of which are from exacting LED emitter bins.
At 23 watts and 378 emitters, this comes to only .06 watt per low PUR output emitter, making this a decorative light only.

This said, as a pricey replacement for two 30 watt fluorescent lights over a fish only tank, this LED will certainly use less electricity than two or even one fluorescent light PLUS add a nice sheen and color your fluorescent lights cannot achieve.

I will also note that I have used this light for demonstration, and can vouch for the nice decorative only features.

So in summary for the Sky LED, it may be a worthwhile purchase under the correct criteria with probably my biggest complaint not with the light itself (again under correct use), but with those selling this light.
The two main sellers are TruAqua and Pet Mountain, both of which have notorious reputations within the Aquarium Industry for poor integrity that frankly I feel for friends I know in the industry who have been hurt by their poor ethics, of which I am uncomfortable divulging at this time (maybe someday with their permission)


The Marine Skkye is another Chinese knock off using inferior low cost emitters, drivers, and controllers, sometimes marketed as a Reef Capable light.
While definitely better than the similarly named SkyLED, as well as sold by somewhat more reputable dealers, it is still basically a fish only to very basic marine reef light

 

For probably the best Internet article about LED Lights, I strongly recommend reading this one below, while it is a bit biased toward the TMC AquaRay, there is good reason to be since the science and professional usage of these LEDs bears out their unsurpassed high end Reef or planted freshwater aquarium light capabilities:
Aquarium LED Lights, Lighting; How they work