Product Review: New Electronic Ballasts – Lumatek, Galaxy and Vertex

Recently the choice of electronic ballasts available to the reef hobbiest has increased beyond the earlier choices of Icecap, EVC, Reef Fanatic, and Blueline electronic ballasts. This article reviews the new series of electronic ballasts recently introduced by Lumatek, Sunlight Supply – Galaxy Electronic Ballasts, and Proline’s Vertex electronic ballasts. A sample of lamps in the various wattages 400W, 250W and 175W and different color temperatures were selected and run with these ballasts. Spectral data, along with performance in terms of Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD), correlated color temperature (CCT), power consumption data was collected using the same equipment and set up used for all the prior tests of lamps. Table 1 shows the various lamps and ballasts tested. These lamps were the exact same lamps tested previously with other ballasts and that data is available on the reef lighting site at http://www.manhattanreefs.com/lighting

Table 1: various lamps and ballasts tested in this study
Lamp WattageBrandBallasts
400WRadium (20000K)Lumatek
Galaxy
Vertex
Aquaconnect (14000K)
Giesmann 400W Coral (14000K)
HIT (10000K)
XM (20000K)
250WCoralvue Reeflux (12000K)Lumatek
Galaxy
Vertex
XM 250W (10000K)
Giesmann 250W Megachrome
175WUshio (14000K)Galaxy
Vertex
Iwasaki (15000K)

The spectral plots for the 400W lamps with the different ballasts is shown in figures 1-5. Table 2 shows the performance data for these lamps on the different ballasts.

Table 2: Performance data for 400W lamps on different ballasts.
LampBallastPowerVoltageAmpsPPFDCCTEfficiency
Radium 400WVertex441121.13.78121.3na0.2751
Lumatek460120.64.01124.1na0.2698
Galaxy458120.93.94128.9na0.2814
Aquaconnect 400W 14KLumatek462121.34.01160na0.3463
Galaxy456121.33.92160.1na0.3511
Vertex442121.23.8153.4na0.3471
Giesmann 400W CoralLumatek462121.53.99172.589750.3734
Vertex442121.33.78166.292500.3760
Galaxy454121.33.9173.791340.3826
XM 400W 20KLumatek462121.93.99117.5na0.2543
Vertex4361223.67108.6na0.2491
Galaxy457122.33.88113.4na0.2481
HIT 400W 10KGalaxy451121.43.86181.382720.4020
Lumatek462121.93.98181.882670.3935
Vertex441121.73.79174.982650.3966
radium-400W.jpg

Figure 1: Radium 400W

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aquaconnect-400W.jpg

Figure 2: Aquaconnect 400W 14K

giesmann-coral-400W.jpg

Figure 3: Giesmann 400W Coral

XM20K-400W.jpg

Figure 4: XM 400W 20K

HIT-400W.jpg

Figure 5: HIT 400W 10K

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The spectral plots for the different 250 lamps with these ballasts is shown in Figures 6-8. Table 3, shows the performance data.

Table 3: Performance data for 250W lamps on different ballasts.
LampBallastPowerVoltageAmpsPPFDCCTEfficiency
Coralvue Reeflux 250W 12K SELumatek284121.32.5264.8na0.2282
Vertex262120.92.2957.5na0.2195
Galaxy284122.22.4867na0.2359
XM 250W 10K SELumatek285122.52.52132.998520.4663
Vertex262121.82.28117.4104630.4481
Galaxy285122.32.49133.298600.4674
Giesmann 250W Megachrome SELumatek285121.12.45109.486270.3839
Vertex262121.42.2899.789220.3805
Galaxy284121.92.4811089810.3873
coralvue-reeflux12K-250W.jpg

Figure 6: Coralvue Reeflux 250W 12K SE

XM10K-250W.jpg

Figure 7: XM 250W 10K SE

giesmann-megachrome-250W.jpg

Figure 8: Giesmann 250W Megachrome SE

The spectral plots for the different 175W lamps with these ballasts is shown in Figures 9-13, with the performance data shown in table 4.

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Table 4: Performance data for 175W lamps on different ballasts.
LampBallastPowerVoltageAmpsPPFDCCTEfficiency
Ushio 175W 14000KVertex182121.41.6268.6153890.3769
Galaxy189122.11.6769.3138500.3667
Iwasaki 175W 15000KVertex186123.41.6288.8106760.4774
Galaxy192123.11.6789.1108360.4641
Ushio 175W 10000KVertex186123.61.6260.180900.3231
Galaxy194123.51.6963.681290.3278
XM 175W 10000KGalaxy184123.51.6180.4104720.4370
Vertex186123.71.6186.2105140.4634
Helios 175W 20000KVertex186122.61.6243.6na0.2344
Galaxy172122.71.4933.6na0.1953
Ushio14K-175W.jpg

Figure 9: Ushio 175W 14000K

Iwasaki15K-175W.jpg

Figure 10: Iwasaki 175W 15000K

Ushio10K-175W.jpg

Figure 11: Ushio 175W 10000K

XM10K-175W.jpg

Figure 12: XM 175W 10000K

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Helios20K-175W.jpg

Figure 13: Helios 175W 20000K

Discussion and Conclusions

As seen from the spectral plots and performance data the electronic ballasts operate the lamps in very tight band. Among the 400W ballasts and lamps, using the Galaxy ballasts as a baseline, the Lumatek and Galaxy ballasts have output within an average of 2% of each other, with the Vertex ballast having slightly lower output averaging 5% less. This difference should practically be considered insignificant. The Vertex ballast also draws slightly less power, about 4.5% less, which most likely accounts for the slightly lower output. The efficiency computation computes the ratio of PPFD to power input and takes into account the difference in output due to reduced power input. Using this metric, one can see that the ballasts are within 1.1% or less of each other.

Among the 250W ballasts, once again there is very little difference between the Galaxy and Lumatek ballasts. The Vertex ballast draws about 7.7% less power on average and this accounts for the slightly reduced light output. Using the efficiency metric, the ballasts are within 1.8% of each other.

Among the 175W ballasts there is really no difference in performance using either of the Galaxy and Vertex ballasts.

Overall, there is very little difference among these electronic ballasts, and all of them have operating characteristics very close to each other. There is a correlation between the light output and power consumed – the ballasts that consume more power also tend to have slightly higher light output. However, these differences are small enough that the largest difference in output (observed for the Coralvue lamp) can be easily compensated by simply changing the height of the lighting fixture by about 1.5″.

Given that these ballasts have very similar performance, I would have no hesitation using any of these ballasts with the final choice being made by factors other than performance – availability, cost, and customer service.

Category:
  Advanced Aquarist
Sanjay Joshi
About

 Sanjay Joshi

  (51 articles)

Sanjay Joshi in real life is a Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Penn State University. He has been a reef addict since 1992, and currently keeps several reef aquariums at home including a 500G SPS coral dominated reef. He also co-manages the 500G aquarium at Penn State. He has published several articles in magazines such as Marine Fish and Reef Annual, Aquarium Frontiers, Aquarium Fish, and Advanced Aquarist. In addition, he has been an invited speaker at several marine aquarium society meetings in the US and Europe. He received the MASNA award in 2006, for his contributions to the marine aquarium hobby.

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