Recently, Ecotech Marine released a diffuser accessory for their very popular Radion LED fixtures, and here is my take on the matter. I don’t usually share my opinions in the articles that I write, but this one will contain a few. Bear with me and see if you agree or disagree. Comment below and we can discuss it. Original thoughts… My original thoughts on this diffuser, when I was told about it a few months ago from my friends at Ecotech, could best be described as “skeptical”. Here were my reasons why: 1.) Was this for people’s viewing pleasure or was this for coral?
It’s undisputed that Radion fixtures grow corals. They does it very well actually. Many hobbyists around the world (myself included) have experienced great success with their light fixtures. A diffuser’s primary job is to reduce the shimmer on the sand bed and eliminate the colors that are not blended on the sand (reds stick out like sore thumb on a white sand bed, at least for me.) Was this to please people for aesthetic purposes? I felt that G4 units with HEI Optics already covered all the hot spots and provided excellent blending of colors. 2.) PAR loss.
BRS did an amazing video and they said that this unit will reduce PAR by 20% on the Radion fixture. That means, I have to bump up my overall intensity to match the PAR that I was previously hitting my corals with. Which means more $$ for electricity. Was losing 20% of PAR worth the trouble?
In this week’s episode of BRStv Investigates, Ryan takes an in-depth look at the EcoTech Marine Radion XR15 G4 LEDs! He shows you PAR output, gives mounting recommendations and provides you with tips to light your tank with this high quality LED fixture.
3.) Fat, bulky lights.
Ecotech Marine is known for their elegant and sleek design. I felt that it was going to make my sleek radion fixtures look too “chunky”. Nevertheless, I decided to try this out with open mind and see what I thought. Now, when I say that I am not handy with tools, I am not exaggerating. I have the handiness of a tree stump and I feared that it was going to take me a while to put this on. I sort of wished that it was just a simple magnet attachment like Kessil’s AP 700. Installation was actually pretty straight forward and the small manual that it came with did a good job explaining things in an extremely simple method. You have to remove 4 fan long screws and 4 fixture short screws. If you have them on Ecotech’s RMS hanging kit, you will have to take off an additional 4 screws. Here are some contents of the diffuser: After you remove the screws, you remove the faceplate of your radion and replace it with the white part of the diffuser.
This was good time for me to clean all the fans and the fixture itself of dust and salt creep. If you are adventurous like me and decide to do this on top of your tank, please put a towel or something else on the top so that screws won’t fall into your tank. You will have one hell of a time trying to look for them once they are down there. Once I opened up the fixture, I appreciated the build quality of these machines and found beauty in their simplicity. Tip: One thing that worked better for me than what the instructions told me to do was to install the magnetic clip at the END of the installation AFTER mounting the light. Here is why. Ecotech used a thin layer of plastic that sits inside the unit to diffuse the light and it has holes matched and lined up accordingly to the four angles of the fixture and 2 for top and bottom. Because there was nothing to really hold the diffuser sheet in place, it was much easier for me to place them in lined up this way instead of upside down like the directions were written.
So a person that’s as handy as a tree stump was able to install 4 diffusers in approximately 1 hour. I’m pretty confident that if you are a reasonably handy person (even if you are not), you can do this blindfolded and in less then 1 hour. Overall, it wasn’t difficult at all and it changed my mind from the initial dread of installing this unit. My thoughts after the installation.It is chunky. From just a hair over 1″ thick, sleek and sexy, it went to 1.75″, as the picture shows. However, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. PAR levels with unexpected twist. As I expected, I did lose some PAR overall. I tested with my Apogee MQ510 and I have to say that it’s similar to BRS’s results in full aquarium settings with waves running, and rocks and corals in place. However, the bottom half of the tank did look different. What do I mean? Visibly less shadows, and for some reason felt little bit brighter in dimly lit crevices near the edges. We also didn’t lose the shimmer. (Thank goodness) It is still there but much less drastic. Some of the random colors that popped out on the sand bed from my Gen 3 xr30 Pro (I have 3 Gen 4 and 1 Gen 3) is no longer there. Which was good for me because I hate spotting red when I’m filming my tank. To see if my eyes were playing tricks on me, I checked my PAR readings from my Neptune Systems’ PMK unit that I had on the side of my tank where I acclimate light burned, bleached corals (Usually chalices or yumas). My Apex fusion unit showed me max PAR level of 16 and ramped down along according to my light schedule on the very edge of the tank where it doesn’t get much lighting, even prior to installing the diffuser. After the installation, my corner place, where it was sitting at 16 PAR max, was getting 22 PAR during the max and and 16 at the low hours while ramping down for the evening. Only 6 PAR, big deal right? It is a big deal when the increase of overall PAR was near 40%. Yes, it’s not going to be 40% all across the board but you will see a significant jump in areas where there wasn’t much light before. For me, all around the tank towards the bottom half, I visually noticed less shadows so yes, for me, it was both for my viewing pleasure, as well as beneficial to corals depending on these lights to illuminate them with necessary PAR to grow and thrive. (none of the settings were changed on purpose to see the result)
So, would I recommend it? I do. I think it justifies the PAR loss, with an overall increase in PAR with even more distribution of light as well as proper color blending. One gripe that I have is with the bulky feel but I look at my tank a lot more than I stare at the fixture so I think I will be able to overcome that fairly easy. Light diffuser installed during day time and at the night time. I hope you enjoyed this little blog, and that it helps you when you are trying to decide whether or not to get these diffusers for your Radions.