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    Hands on the Orphek PR-156 LED

    You’ve probably seen photos floating around online of this LED lamp. It’s the Orphek PR 156 LED aquarium light that until receiving we had never seen in person or come across a fair number of user reviews. The low profile and stated high light intensity has piqued plenty of people’s interests; enough that we’ve received […]

    orphek led

    You’ve probably seen photos floating around online of this LED lamp. It’s the Orphek PR 156 LED aquarium light that until receiving we had never seen in person or come across a fair number of user reviews. The low profile and stated high light intensity has piqued plenty of people’s interests; enough that we’ve received questions from you readers. So when Orphek contacted us to see if we’d like to try one, we were hesitant, but wanted to see what this $850 USD fixture can do. Here are our initial thoughts on the Orphek LED. Some real testing is currently going underway and we will follow up once completed.

    The Orphek LED uses 120w, pushing 60 LEDs per fixture at 2w each. Orphek prides itself in its LED stating that the CRI and spectrum are some of the best available in the aquarium market. We will touch more on those items in the future.

    orphek led

    The fixture shipped from Orphek’s manufacturing facility in Hong Kong. It came crated and was much larger of a box than we had expected. This was largely due to the large driver / timer combo that I’ll touch on in a bit. The design is slim, sleek and photographs particularly well.

    orphek led

    But the fit and finish is lacking for a fixture that costs just shy of $1K. Of the four corners,three had finish issues as shown below. Given the nature of them, we don’t believe them to be from shipping.

    We may well have received a lemon, there is no way to verify this, but we would have liked to see some non-off the shelf items be used in the fixture’s body. Wrapping around the heat sink is a perforated metal which connects to acrylic. The acrylic gives it a nice look, but remember to be mindful of scratches.

    orphek led

    Power to the light is controlled by a driver box. Mounted inside are the constant current drivers which are connected to two digital timers. The timers are easy enough to use, but we’d love to see the ability to connect whites and blues to a controller. Orphek bypasses this as the fixture is set at a fixed intensity and does not offer dimming.

    orphek led

    For now, our early thought are summarized below:

    • Attractive slim low profile look
    • The finish did not meet our expectations
    • We wish there was dimming and better blue / white control
    • Early PAR tests show that it’s very bright

    Keep an eye out for more on this light as we put it through the paces.

    UPDATE: Orphek has since contacted us, assuring us that this light was sent out on accident and does not meet their quality expectations.



    1. November 9, 2010 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

      Did you attempt to contact Orphek before this post about the damage? The unit I reviewed arrived in flawless condition.

    2. Nemotito49
      November 9, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

      Hi Eric,

      I wonder if Orphek would also be a sponsor like Aquaillumination (as I see at sponsors advertising of your blog), you would give a review that not only does not say anything about the product, but it is obviously biased.
      By the way you have almost 50 reviews of that product. Does that mean you will also give other companies that amount of reviews?

      You haven’t given anything new that was not commented at Reef Central:


    3. phi delt reefer
      November 9, 2010 at 9:58 PM | Permalink

      as part of any unbiased review one should review the inital unit recieved. THEN the reviewer should contact the company to see what they can do in terms of sending out another unit to provide a measure of the business’s customer service. To have three corners and acrylic scratching all over ONE unit shows that this item never made it to the QC stage of their operation OR the lack of QC within the business. Both should be a concern for future clients for the LEDS in these units are not replaceable either from what I have read.

    4. Anonymous
      November 9, 2010 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

      What are the overall dimensions of the unit?

    5. Justin
      November 9, 2010 at 11:10 PM | Permalink

      Reading the full review is key

      “Keep an eye out for more on this light was we put it through the paces.”

    6. Nemotito49
      November 9, 2010 at 11:36 PM | Permalink

      Hi phi, if you read more carefully and you pay attention to what was written in this article you will find a sentence that says exactly how biased this blog is. Extracted from the very article itself:

      “So when Orphek contacted us to see if we’d like to try one, we were hesitant” – why is that? you are a product reviewer but you are hesitant to receive a product to review?
      You are a product reviewer – LED Lighting – but you are sponsored by one company with a huge banner on top of every article??? How objective can you be when competitors of this company are concerned?
      So probably, as the very blog states “The low profile and stated high light intensity has piqued plenty of people’s interests” kinda made his sponsor shake up a little 🙂 LOL
      and more…

      “Given the nature of them, we don’t believe them to be from shipping” – did the blog contacted the shipping company? or the light company?
      the answer is obvious! nooooo . they even mentioned that here – the company contacted the blog.
      I agree with you in terms of the company’s policy to substitute damage lights or parts. In my opinion, if this was an unbiased blog they would first contact the company, check their customer assistance, excuses, explanations, guaranty…whatever…and than publish the entire here in addition to the review.
      I wonder if the company offered to substitute the light. not a word on this one.
      and more…

      ” It came crated and was much larger of a box than we had expected. was largely due to the large driver / timer combo that I’ll touch on in a bit.” – I saw pictures of the lights in the box and I don’t agree with this one. besides, did glassbox paid for the shipping costs?

      anyways, I am sorry that today blogs are vehicle of media to sell products instead of helping hobbists 🙁

    7. November 9, 2010 at 11:38 PM | Permalink

      I disagree. There is no such thing as no mistakes. If I receive a unit that is damaged from a manufacturer for review, I first phone them to find out if something untoward or unusual happened before I make a post about it. Obviously if I receive no response, I will go ahead and review it, but I’m all for second chances.

      Like Nemo, I do wonder about objectivity and sponsorship by AI, but I will give Eric the benefit of the doubt. This is why I refuse to accept aquarium product manufacturer sponsorship on my blog…

    8. Nemotito49
      November 9, 2010 at 11:38 PM | Permalink

      yeap, seems that they will continue to try to sell their sponsored product

    9. Nemotito49
      November 9, 2010 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

      Dear Captive – I am not an expert in blog writing, but if a blog is sponsored by one’s competitor, we cannot close the eyes for the objectiveness issue I guess.
      I will go check other sources of information before deciding either to buy from Orphek or another company. I will even check what others have to say about the sponsored company. Their website seems nice too. Have you reviewed the other company?

    10. November 9, 2010 at 11:57 PM | Permalink

      I disagree. If I receive a unit that’s obviously either been damaged during shipping or has issues, I’ll contact the manufacturer to find out if something untoward has happened. This also allows me to determine if the company offers good customer service and is willing to help me/a potential customer out, etc. Simply posting about what is likely shipping or forklift damage isn’t helpful.

      Nemo has a point about objectivity and the AI sponsorship. Even if it’s not actually affecting objectivity, it will still come to the mind of readers. This is why I don’t accept sponsorship from aquarium product makers.

      LEDs being replaceable is mostly a moot point – did you know the LEDs in your TV aren’t replaceable, either? Orphek’s warranty covers the diodes for three years, and diode failure rate (as you probably know from your tv!) is very low.

    11. November 10, 2010 at 12:07 AM | Permalink

      Yes, I reviewed the first generation, there have been a few improvements: http://blog.captive-aquatics.com/captive_aquatics/2010/09/orphek-pr-156-reef-aquarium-led-light-review.html

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting Eric isn’t objective, I’m just agreeing with the point Nemo made, seeing the many AI ads. 🙂

    12. Reefer422
      November 10, 2010 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

      This is a joke. If you were truly testing the fixture you would have AT LEAST put it on a tank and given a first impression account on the tank. Orphek sent you that light. Do us all a favor and sell it on Ebay… Your negative review will not be objective and will help no one….except your sponsor…..

    13. wtf
      November 10, 2010 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

      same bs as on RC. the orphek shill game is getting old.

      thanks eric for reporting your REAL experience

    14. Marlen Jones
      November 10, 2010 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

      Way to go Dude! I bought one, if you wish to know how my corals are doing e-mail me.

    15. Marlen Jones
      November 10, 2010 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

      To you all:
      I bought Orphek PR 156 and it came not only 100% ok, but very fast too.
      Company’s assistance is awesome.

    16. clive@nanocustoms
      November 10, 2010 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

      You guys are incredible. So you are all saying that if a blog is to review a product, and do it objectively, they should have no commercial sponsorship? They should do all of this on their own dime? Seriously? How do you think magazines stay afloat? Sponsorships/advertizing. Are they generally viewed as a place for objective reviews? Typically, yes (there are exceptions).

      Sponsors like AI know full well that a site like this will come into contact with competing products, and will be expected to review products in an objective fasion. What should they care if Eric gives the Orphek a positive review or not? The only time that a sponsor should care about a review is if it’s for one of their products, and the review is unecessarily negative.

      This shouldn’t even be an issue. Not sure why everyone is on the warpath with some of the reef blogs of late.

      Eric, review the product. At least I know the review will be honest.

    17. Nicksadaka
      November 10, 2010 at 7:30 PM | Permalink

      Those of us who know Eric even just a little bit and have followed his blogs know that he is always very forthcoming and honest about all of his reviews. I can’t say that I understand all of the dissent and questioning of intentions here. Blogs are much like radio stations…most have their sponsors and support them, but they also discuss things outside of their “own world”. You can choose to believe them and trust who is speaking or you can switch the channel. Personally, I completely trust Eric and value his opinions and that’s my option just as it is your’s to ignore or discount it. So many people nowadays love to tear down and criticize bloggers for every little iota of minutia, but you have the ability to write your own if you so choose (I know some of you do, and that’s great) or pick out the information that you deem important. Eric has written his own honest opinion of this product, but the result is very simple…choose to believe it or don’t. But dissent and borderline accusations…what real purpose does it serve? If you disagree with his review, by all means, say your peace, but in the end, he’s still as entitled to his opinion as anyone (more so since it’s his blog).

    18. mike
      November 10, 2010 at 7:33 PM | Permalink

      As a completely unbiased consumer (I’m not even looking for a light fixture) I’m glad that it was reported like this. Why should the blogger hide the facts and give the company a “second chance?” Does the blogger then have to do that for every company that they test a product for? Oh this one isn’t going to get a good review, but before I publish it, would you like another chance? That’s BS. Keep up the good work GBD.

    19. November 10, 2010 at 9:02 PM | Permalink

      Over the last six months, readers of Glassbox and ReefBuilders have expressed this air of entitlement like they have any right to tell us how to run our blogs. We are only people, fellow hobbyists, and we try our best with every product that comes our way. Thoroughly reviewing any product takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. If you don’t like how we’re doing things why don’t you start your own blog and do it your own way?

      Except for Mike Maddox: he is a t00l and he can STFU because he doesn’t have the slightest clue WTF he is talking about. If you need evidence of this just read the caption of this page on RHM where he describes metal halides as “incandescent lighting”.

      I support Eric’s view point on the Orphek and we have not reviewed it because I already know it’s an overpriced POS.

    20. kn
      November 10, 2010 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

      I’m like mike… I’m not even interested in LEDs and the companies making them! But… If I’m a company knowingly sending a product to someone to be reviewed, I would sure as heck make sure that the “representative” sample of my product was as perfect as perfect could be. Seems pretty strange for a company to send out something like this as a sample for review, and that alone tells me something about a company. For that reason alone, Eric’s review is quite useful.

    21. Soymilk
      November 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM | Permalink

      Personally I would have preferred a full review all at one time as opposed to a teaser. But like Jake mentioned, it’s up to the blog how it conducts it’s business. If you don’t like it then make your own blog. Unless you’re the head editor of the blog, you need to stfu. YES it is prevalent to disclose all details in a review. If the light came broken in half, it would be important to add that into the review. Why? For two reasons, it helps readers gauge how well the product is packaged as well as customer service response. When buying a product, we are also paying for customer service. I want to know i will be taken care of even after they’ve got my money. A negative thing like a unit that came in for review DOA, can become an incredible positive if customer service response pulls thru.

      Personally I prefer if the blog buys the unit as a regular customer. This negates any possible attempts from the manufacturer to send out an above spec product. Reviewers always get special treatment in a problem arises too. The average Joe won’t get the same customer service. But clearly this is not finically feasible for a blog to do this.

      @Jake: I’m not taking any sides. But don’t you think if a highly respected blog like reefbuilders were to do a review on the orphek, it would help many reefers decide on the fixture? I also had my preconceived notions about the original iPhone. But only when I was able to hold it in my hands was I able to tell without a doubt it was a quality product. So long story short “don’t knock it til you try it”. Even though I also think the orphek is a pos. Not so much because of the product, but because of the obvious attempts at shilling.

      @Mike: You say your review and opinion is not biased yet you don’t hesitate to stick up for the orphek any chance you get. It seems as if you had a personal monetary stake in the product. If you are truly unbiased, then you should have no problem if another blog does a positive or negative review on the fixture. You won’t see another movie critic post a response about a review from another movie critic.

    22. Soymilk
      November 12, 2010 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

      Oops…. theres two mikes. That last post was towards Mike Maddox aka Captive Aquatics.

      Sorry other mike.

    23. STEVE
      November 12, 2010 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

      PERSONALLY soymilk:

      get a REAL job in a REAL law office man!

    24. Bright man
      November 12, 2010 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

      It is my opinion that buying stuff in the internet is not a good idea. I personally never do.
      1.you share your personal information.
      2.you rely on other’s opinions.
      3.you cannot see in person, check, test etc…
      4.there are many logistics involved such as paypal, credit card companies, UPS, DHL, FEDEX, etc…

      That pointed out, regardless what Eric friends are saying about him, I would choose to buy products that I can check for myself in a shop.

    25. November 12, 2010 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

      Bright man / Steve / Marlen Jones / Nemotito — This is your first and last warning. Trolling under mutliple aliases is not permitted. You’ve made it extremely clear that you are not independent of Orphek.

      Let it be known that these 4 ‘individuals’ are in fact the same person.

    26. Joe Reefer
      November 12, 2010 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

      Sounds like someones bitter that they didn’t get a tester first

    27. Ian
      November 12, 2010 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

      This is insane, a company sends a beat up unit for a review and doesn’t expect the first impression of that unit to be mentioned? Damage like that couldn’t have possibly have happened in shipping, that missing chunk of metal would have been bent back, not clipped off and missing.

      Eric is as honest as it gets in this industry and to trash talk him because you’re not happy with his review is ludicrous. If you thought his sponsors would create a biased report, why send the unit in the first place?

    28. November 14, 2010 at 8:18 AM | Permalink

      Orphek is so full of FAIL it’s not even funny. Hey “Steve”- instead of trolling your products on internet forums/blogs, do some “real” advertising. You are ruining any chance of a good reputation for your company.

    29. rroselavy
      November 15, 2010 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

      I saw one of these Orphek fixtures over a tank in the Marine Depot boot at RAP a few weeks ago. Sleek, yes – but the light spread looked very very narrow. I would be very interested in seeing a PAR plot at 12″ and/or 18″ in the follow up…

    30. clive@nanocustoms
      November 16, 2010 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

      Narrow is an understatement. That was the first thing I noticed when I saw it too. It’s also the only reason they are hitting the PAR numbers that they are claiming. There have been a few PAR tests on RC showing that they really can hit the numbers they claim, but why should they be that high, especially at the cost of area coverage?

    31. KJ
      November 17, 2010 at 1:54 AM | Permalink

      I don’t know Eric from Steve from Marlin, but I stand by GBD on their review. It sure sounds to me like Orphek contacted GBD to ask if they would be interested in reviewing a unit. Right? If the company was not happy with the subsequent review of their product then that’s too bad. If you go to the doctor to ask his opinion of the large mole on your butt, don’t get mad at him if he tells you that it’s cancer. As a consumer I appreciate honest reviews and, truthfully, would be more concerned if the unit had shown up in bad shape and Eric had not brought this to the attention of the reader. People are hopefully smart enough to know that this is ONE review of ONE unit by ONE person…if they sent him a product that wasn’t up to snuff then that’s one piece of imformation the consumer can include in their opinion of the product.

    32. Kay Drabsch
      December 4, 2010 at 2:18 AM | Permalink

      hi im thinking of getting one how good are they relay and i one big enough for a 3ft/L x 2ft/W x 20in/D tank please.thank you regards kay

    33. flynn
      December 4, 2010 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

      Kind of lost a little respect for all of you actually. Especially you Jake.
      I’ve not agreed with or been angered by some of the statements Eric has made in the past since they directly affected the way customers may see my business. I’ve enjoyed Jakes blog a lot recently and found it very useful to keep up to date and love the fact that you visited the UK to attend a meet. But wow, seeing you lower yourself and call out Mike Maddox (who’s blog i have never read) in your post over a caption on a photo?

      The fact that sponsored blogs and Clive with your interests in LED’s are crapping on this product makes ME think that actually, maybe there’s something to this product. I’ll be keeping an eye out for actual useful reviews, tests and user feedback rather than falling for the jive-talking being done by you guys. Where are your morals gone you guys?

    34. CL
      December 13, 2010 at 5:18 AM | Permalink

      I bought 4 orphek fixtures for my tank. THEY ARE COMPLETE JUNK! That is my honest impression. I’ve worked in the commercial lighting industry my entire life. They use CHEAP components, outright lies about their CRI and par values. And to boot two of the 4 purchased were DOA. I didn’t keep them long enough but they will be rusted paperweights within 6 months. Mark my words on that.

      Also the power supply… what a joke. Its giant – you cannot parallel them. Cheaply spray painted, scratched up, un-organized ect. Timers are next to useless, overly complicated, lacking ANY type of documentation what-so-ever. Stay away from these fixtures. If I didn’t return them I would be very interested to know what type of crappy leds they are pushing on everyone. The Optics are narrow.. spread is terrible. The color over my tank looked to be about 7000-8000K. Pretty close to daylight. You would need to spend another 300 bucks just for supplmentation blue leds.

      Ok done ranting.. but everyone should know about these fixtures. They are not worth it.

      Ecoxotic’s were much better in my opinion.. and cheaper. Reefkoi’s much better as well. SOOO many better options out there for less money.

    35. clive@nanocustoms
      December 30, 2010 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

      I fail to see where you think I lost my morals. Of the two posts I’ve had on this, one was to defend Eric, and the other was to comment on what myself, and everyone else at RAP saw from the product that was being demonstrated. I also admited that the fixture most likely can hit the PAR numbers that were claimed by the manufacturer, so I fail to see your point.

      I certainly have my reservations about the product for several reasons, but I don’t have to explain them here. Personally, I’d love to get my hands on one to really see what it’s made of, and then get it on the spectrometer to see what it really looks like.

    36. Matt
      January 26, 2011 at 2:50 AM | Permalink

      The Orphek is total crap. I’ve tried to return two and ended up disputing the charges with American Express. They have serious quality control issues, non-existent customer support and an overall bad attitude. Stick with your metal halides, better LEDs are coming.

    37. ReefDude
      February 16, 2011 at 7:28 AM | Permalink

      Is it just me or do both of these guys sound the same? I have a feeling the guy trying to get all the hype up about these Orphek is Matt Maddox or an affiliate of his company.

      Orphek 832.387.6359
      Captive Marine Aquatics, LLC – 832.458.1536

    38. ReefDude
      February 16, 2011 at 7:28 AM | Permalink

      Is it just me or do both of these guys sound the same? I have a feeling the guy trying to get all the hype up about these Orphek is Matt Maddox or an affiliate of his company.

      Orphek 832.387.6359
      Captive Marine Aquatics, LLC – 832.458.1536

    39. ReefDude
      February 16, 2011 at 7:28 AM | Permalink

      Is it just me or do both of these guys sound the same? I have a feeling the guy trying to get all the hype up about these Orphek is Matt Maddox or an affiliate of his company.

      Orphek 832.387.6359
      Captive Marine Aquatics, LLC – 832.458.1536

    40. June 14, 2011 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

      This review is quite old and the orphek lights were still very new at this time.

      From doing other searches on Orphek I find nothing but positive feedback, aside from this review.

      Considering the growing amount of high end $10,000 + reef aquariums that are now switching to Orphek, I would suggest you ask for a new fixture to review or perhaps one of their other products.

    41. Chris
      June 28, 2011 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

      Wow, what a terrible review.  There is absolutely no information in this review other than an opinion that the presumably free review unit you received had an imperfect finish….. maybe thats why it became a review unit???

      Saying your hesitant to receive a product to review??? odd

      And I suggest you educate yourself on why it might be bad to dim an LED… What do you think happens to the par/pir values, or the spectrum when an LED is dimmed? hrmmmm maybe a company is going for health of the corals and true growth of lps/sps instead of fancy dimming?

      just my .02

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