During my 25+ years in the reefing hobby I have used many different lighting brands. I have witnessed the progression of lighting technology and its positive impacts on our hobby.  In 2013 I started using LED lights for the very first time. I transitioned, like most, from the reliable metal halide fixtures to something more efficient. My current arsenal of lights include cheaper knock off brands all the way to some that are considered the best in the industry.  They all will grow coral but some are better than others.

Most products today allow spectrum and intensity adjustments at the minimum. But with more knobs it can be daunting to a new user to figure out what the correct settings should be, and manufacturers have started really thinking about product usability.  In this article I will focus more on the usability experience than the typical hardware performance specifications. That data set has been rehashed on the vendor’s website and many other sources to date.  Everyone should understand the basic concepts of reef lighting (spectrum, intensity, PAR PUR, DLI, etc.) before setting up a system as a best practice. If the industry wants to expand their user base they need to make it simpler to adopt. This level of simplicity can be a differentiator to bring the hobbyist experience back to basics of “plug and play”.

Usability

The definition of usability in the ISO 9241 standard is:

“The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use”

A basic requirement for any reefing enthusiast purchasing a product is “How quickly and easily can I setup this up?”  I have never owned an Orphek light before, and I was given an opportunity to review a brand new Orphek Atlantik Icon for my next project.

Basic contents in the box included:

  1. User Manual
  2. Light Fixture
  3. Meanwell Power Supply
  4. Regional Power Cord
  5. Waterproof Connector Cable
  6. WIFI Antenna & Nylon Spacer
  7. Cable Hanging Kit

Initial Setup

Can I wing the install without reading the User Manual?  Assembling the hardware is intuitive with just four connections. Searching, downloading and installing the Orphek Icon App is a common workflow most used today, and so I registered for an account.

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The Orphek Atlantik Icon appears to use a Smart Life based controller module as part of their “Intelligent Connectivity,” supporting both local WIFI and Bluetooth connections. The Smart Life controller platform is used on many common home automation products today so should be familiar to some.  I made the assumption that I can pair the light like any other Smart Life device by holding the power button down for 5 seconds and waiting for lights to start blinking.  With a few failures I ended up cracking open the user manual to figure out what I was doing wrong.  The short answer is yes, you should read the short user manual for better understanding first since there was a unique (push button 4x) step to enter the pairing mode on the light fixture.

The user manual is well written. If I followed it step by step I would have saved myself a few minutes of fumbling to add the device.  The graphical user interface is very similar to other lighting programs.  It has six color channels you can program through individual intensities throughout the day if you are looking for a specific look.  Personally, I have tried to emulate the popular AB+ settings on all my existing fixtures.  I want a “Quick Start” without needing to manually program and tweak. Orphek did include a very well documented “Helius” program that mimics nature for best coral health.  I will be trying this preset program out and modifying this as needed to see what the benefits this setting provides.

15-20 minutes was all I needed to prepare the unit for installation over my 120 gallon tank.

Initial Experience

My initial experience has been pleasant. Time will tell how my corals react to the “Helius” preset program. I will revisit this again for a long term usage review.

From a system design perspective, detailed on the Orphek Atlantik Icon page, I really like the following aspects.

Hardware:

  • Improved, more efficient 5W LEDs
  • Heat management design improves component life and the 120 degree glass lenses will not melt
  • Reliable redundant remote and local control methods with both WIFI and BT connectivity
  • Upgradeable architecture is great for sustainability and long term use
  • Hanging kit was included to cover a 2’x2′ area with the mount setup ~16″ above the water surface for best coverage

Software:

  • The software setup was very intuitive and easy to use with the preset “Helius” program
  • Easy to create custom programming. If you try to emulate the popular AB+ spectrum, without a spectrum analyzer to match the curve, you will have to trust the % settings for the 6 color bands you are adjusting
  • Built in features for clouds, jellyfish, lunar, and acclimation are included
  • Opportunities:
    • Only bug I found was the Temperature Unit conversion between Celsius to Fahrenheit is incorrect

Documentation:

  • The Orphek website has the most comprehensive documentation and videos I have seen to walk the user through the setup of this device
  • Web content is very clear and well written

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