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    Unboxing the New Aqua Illumination LED Module

    The newly redesigned Aqua Illumination LED reef aquarium light fixture is officially in house for testing by GBD. Aqua Illumination kindly sent us one of their first models for an exclusive review–a special thanks to Chris and the AI crew. After delays from overhauling the fixture to incorporate the latest Cree XP-G LED, the new […]

    The newly redesigned Aqua Illumination LED reef aquarium light fixture is officially in house for testing by GBD. Aqua Illumination kindly sent us one of their first models for an exclusive review–a special thanks to Chris and the AI crew. After delays from overhauling the fixture to incorporate the latest Cree XP-G LED, the new AI units are now shipping.

    The 12″ module we received will retail for $629. A considerable sum, but if 75w is really the new 250w… it may just pay for itself. We’ll have to see ourselves. Expect to see these hitting fine retailers such as Premium Aquatics and Aquarium Specialty in the coming days.

    Upon opening it my first reaction was that’s a big shipping box. In truth it was primarily bubble wrap. Hiding underneath all the protective wrap is  a relatively small, simple, attractive and well designed box. On the back the full stats are listed–see the condensed version below.

    Module Dimensions

    • Length: 11.875″
    • Height: 2.35″
    • Width 5.375″

    Power Supply

    • Power Output: 72w
    • Universal Input Range: 100 – 240 VAC / 50-60Hz
    • Dimensions: 4.6 x 2.1 x 1.25″

    The heatsink is anodized for an almost brushed metal look, while being more polished and less distracting to the overall fixture than bare metal. Below you can see the power and data inputs. The nice thing with this fixture, is that there is no ballast or large external driver. A lightweight 36v adapter is all that stands between the fixture and the wall outlet.

    The Serial number has been appropriately blurred out…  it was one of the early ones.

    On the underside of the fixture, the first feature to catch your eyes are AI’s custom designed optics for the Cree XP-G and XP-E series LEDs. They also opted for a clear shield across which gives owners a glimpse at the PCB and internal circuitry.

    The controller is incredibly simple to use. I spent a good amount of time using the interface and adjusting the manual controls and sunrise / sunset features. The programming ability is powerful, yet intuitive.

    As a teaser, here’s what the 72w LED light is capable of: even spread and high intensity. Soon we’ll see just how intense the newly redesigned Aqua Illumination LED is and how this fixture stacks up against the competition.

    15 Comments

    1. pavlo
      January 5, 2010 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

      can't wait to see what this looks like over the Glassbox.

      ps yay for me, first person to comment in 2010 😉

    2. george
      January 5, 2010 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

      wow looks good. lovin the white

    3. Ian
      January 5, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

      The fixture looks great when it's off, but the light bleeding through the white shell in the last picture is a little off-putting.

      How noticeable is that in person?

    4. January 5, 2010 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

      Nice! What is the recommended spread with one of these? Can it light a 30″ wide tank as well as a single MH fixture? I supposed we have some future posts to look forward to.

    5. Jimbobfett
      January 5, 2010 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

      I dont think 75 watts of LED will be replace 250 watts of halide… not yet. It should be more like 96-100 watts of just XP-G R5 bin LED's to do that. Being that 1/3 of the AI fixture is lower efficiency blue, this fixture is most likely replacing a good 150 watt halide in light output. Still… this is very good and I would consider this over halide in a heartbeat.

      I wonder if a 100% Cree XP-G unit coming in at about 90-100 watts would be possible. You would need a seperate source for actinic/blue (T5's come to mind), but that would be a 250 watt halide replacement.

    6. clive@nanocustoms
      January 5, 2010 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

      Wouldn't count on it. The royal blues are more efficient when it comes to PAR output, so it's very likely that it can meet or beat 250W MH PAR levels. If driven at decent drive currents and coupled with the included 45 degree optics, I wouldn't be surprised to see ~350-400 PAR at about 16-18″.

    7. AJ_Tsin
      January 5, 2010 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

      Awesome aesthetic design. Guess we will see how they work.

    8. Jon
      January 5, 2010 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

      @ Ian- yes the yellow-ish tint of the housing is noticable when the lights are on predominantly white or mixed. When it's more blue it takes on a cool blue glow, which i like. I think they shouldve stuck with the housing they had at reefapalooza which had a white glow w/ white. seems they changed that neat feature for this… i like the new lenses over the ones they had at reefapalooza though.

      Hi Eric — just one module over the glassbox?

      I'm using 2 over my nano. i didnt expect them to be so bright. i dont think i need this much light, but it's cool to have. i think i could probably have gotten away with one. is that what you're doing?

    9. Jimbobfett
      January 5, 2010 at 9:56 PM | Permalink

      For every series of Cree LED's as well as most others… the output as measured in watts/s*m2 (or PAR/PPFD by at a given spectrum) of a blue LED is exactly the same as the 'white' LED in the blue spectrum, just with the rest of the spectrums removed. So if the peak output of a given LED line has a 455nm peak of 1.2 watts for a full spectrum or 'cool white' LED, then the blue only LED also has a 1.2 watt peak. Its not as if eliminating the need to power other spectrums allows all of the power to be diverted to making a higher output of only blue… LED's dont work like that. Overall, yes, the blue phosphors tend to be the most efficient, but a 'full spectrum' LED is still going to be higher output than a 'blue' one. Since the LED's being used for blue are the XP-E's… I doubt they have half the overall efficiency of the XP-G's.

      Also, an output of 350-400 mmols/m2*s at 16-18″ isnt that impressive, not considering that they have 45 degree optics on them. You could also make an claim that they can hit levels almost double that with 20-30 degree optics as well. My XP-G's (28 of them at about 93 watts) can hit that intensity at 18″ without any optics. Such claims of intensity at a given distance are only valid if the area if incidence is also given.

    10. nivenethan
      January 6, 2010 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

      I have 4 modules running so far over a 30″ deep tank. Awesome and super bright. Waiting on the next 4 to come to cover the rest of my tank.

    11. glassboxdesign
      January 6, 2010 at 8:56 PM | Permalink

      Hey Nat,

      At 30″ two fixtures would be better suited, but one could work if you're willing to live with less intense lighting in areas. Depending on the aquascape… a single fixture highlighting the rock and corals could look quite good.

    12. glassboxdesign
      January 6, 2010 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

      Just one module to test for now. No guarantee it will be over the tank, but most likely… I'm very impressed so far.

    13. January 7, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

      Great looking fixture! I am very excited about the potential of LED lighting!

    14. January 7, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

      Great looking fixture! I am very excited about the potential of LED lighting!

    15. Plymanf
      May 31, 2011 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

      I purchased three units at a significant price after hearing how beneficial the lighting would be for my corals.  From almost the beginning, I’ve had nothing but issues.  All three units have had to be sent back to the manufacturer on three separate occasions for repair due to either the fans not working, the LED lights burning out or the electrical supply shorting out.  After just two days of re-installing the units for a fourth time, half of the lights on one of the units are no longer working.  The manufacturer’s solution – pay another $500 to upgrade because in their own words, “The new LEDs that we currently use and that you could upgrade to if you want are much better around moisture and not as prone to the heat issues.”  And the lunar cycle is a joke.  One night, I’ll have moonlight, the next night it will be pitch black dark.  Save your money and look elsewhere.  That’s what I’m going to be doing.

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