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Orphek's Pr-156 Power Reef LED Pendant

 Reviewed by James Gasta

Please note that the following is a personal review by respected WWM crewmember James 'Salty Dog' Gasta. His opinions are his own and not those of WetWebMedia and should not be taken as any kind of promotion or endorsement.

 In the last few years, several companies have introduced LED lighting capable of supporting both SPS and LPS corals typically found in reef aquaria. Most of these systems are only effective in shallow tanks, until now.

 Orphek has spent two years proudly developing their LEDs to provide a PAR/PUR ratio that is much higher than any other LED lighting system currently available, and fully capable of supporting hard corals and clams in tank depths as deep as 48 inches. Orphek is currently working on their own PAR/PUR map to show their extremely high PAR/PUR ratios and the results will be posted on their site when completed (www.orphek.com). All components excluding the timers have been designed and manufactured in house. Two components make up the system, the power supply and the LED module.

 The Power Supply

 The power supply is a constant current device and is enclosed within an aluminum housing employing one 3" cooling fan to ensure a low operating temperature for the electrical components. The unit measures 12 ¾" x 5 ¾" x 2 ¾". Orphek chose to go with the more expensive constant current power supply because regardless of type, size, or power, all LEDs work best when driven with a constant current source power supply as LED color will change with small variations in driving current.

 There are two commercial grade digital timers located on the front panel of the power supply. One is for control of the 46 white LEDs, and 10 actinic LEDs. The second timer controls the remaining four actinic LEDs and is used as a night time/moonlight feature. A blue backlight turns on when any of the buttons are depressed enabling one to program in a dimly lit room. Each timer is capable of 16 separate programs which offer an infinite number of timing options for the experimental aquarist. Single days, weeks, or groups of days can be programmed along with individual on/off times for each group. A little overkill, but a nice feature.

 Each timer can be selected for Auto, Off, and On, which enables one to override the timers if desired. If no entries are made to the timer within 15 seconds, the timer goes into a lock mode which is displayed by a lock symbol and prevents nosy fingers from changing any of the programs or time on the clock. Pressing the cancel button four times unlocks the timer and allows the user to program the timer.

Plastic covers are provided for the covers. Photo: James Gasta

My only complaint is that the buttons are small and too close together. I found it fairly easy to press two at the same time while programming. Using the eraser end of a pencil to depress the buttons solved the problem. The timers are also backed up by a battery which maintains timer settings in the event of a power loss, a very thoughtful feature. Another interesting feature is that the timers can be programmed to automatically adjust the clock to compensate for any loss or gain in time. This function is set to automatically take place every Saturday, and is a feature few hobbyists would likely use.

Above: Power supply top view. Below: Blue backlighting is very difficult for making adjustments in dimly lit rooms. Photos by James Gasta

The LED module

 As with the power supply, the LED module is equally well made using a combination of Corsica-coated stainless steel and acrylic materials. The sides are wrapped in the stainless sandwiched between a clear 3/8" thick acrylic lens and a white acrylic back. The clear lens effectively protects the LEDs from any moisture contamination. The LED module contains two 3" cooling fans that effectively cool the LED semiconductors by blowing air across a massive heat sink and out through the perforated side vents in the module. As with all semiconductors, cooler operating temperatures greatly extend the useful life of these components. The module measures 24" x 6 ¼" x 2". Removing the white acrylic top cover revealed how large the aluminum heat sink actually is, it covers the entire length and width of the module. All hardware used for the module assembly is made of high grade stainless steel.

There are 60, two watt LEDs used in the module, 14 actinic, and 46 white which effectively produce a Kelvin temperature of around 18,000. The white LEDs are rated at 16,000 Kelvin. Overall, the combined LEDs produce a very nice color balance. 

The Orphek-lit part of the tank (see photo on the next page) appears to be dimmer than the halide and that is because the pendant was resting on acrylic straps very close to the water's surface when this photo was taken. Because of its design, and the sharp focusing of the optical lenses, the pendant must be hung and adjusted to effectively spread the light across the width of the tank. The hardware and cables used for hanging the module are included. The combined LEDs offer a full spectral profile of 400nm-760nm which means there is no color loss throughout the entire spectrum, a downside commonly associated with other brands of LEDs. Each LED is outfitted with a 90 degree optical quality lens which greatly reduces water surface refraction and reflection.

All connecting pins in the module, including the LEDs, are gold plated for excellent conductivity and to resist corrosion. Mounting in a custom wood canopy is not an option although it is possible with a little ingenuity providing the height is available to spread the light. Orphek recently informed me that they will soon be offering a bracket for the light as well as additional mounting options.

On 10/31/10, Orphek has introduced the PR-156W LED Module. This module is identical to the PR-156 but uses frosted 120 degree reflectors rather than the 90 degree clear reflectors used in the PR-156 which was designed for up to 40" of water penetration. The PR-156W is best used on aquariums 28" or shallower, (and for those with canopies without a lot of clearance) and will be more economical for those needing spread rather than punch. 

Above left: I was impressed by the massive heat sink module. Above right: Blue backlighting is very useful for making adjustments in dimly lit rooms.

First impressions

My first impression of the Orphek PR-156 was that it is extremely bright; you could not look directly at the LEDs, much the same effect as looking directly at a metal halide or HQI lamp, you cannot. The quality of materials used and workmanship are second to none. The color of the corals were much more pronounced than my present 10K MH lamps, but not over exaggerated. In three days of use with the Orphek replacing one of my two, 175 watt MH lamps, my tank temperature dropped nearly 2 ½ degrees.

Orphek claims that one PR-156 Module will replace up to a 400 watt metal halide lamp.  I had no way to confirm this other than view PAR readings taken with an Apogee AFQ-200 PAR meter at various tank depths (Orphek data) which were impressive.  Orphek chose not to include PAR measurements in this review as variance in meters, calibration, applications, water clarity, and angle of mounting could all have an effect on the readings.

Below: Black model showing hanging kit


With an average etailer price of $850.00, this light is not going to appeal to everyone's needs. Hobbyists with shallow tanks (<18") can find more affordable LED systems capable of doing the job. For those with deeper tanks, you will be hard pressed to find another LED system capable of producing the higher PAR levels required. Orphek offers a one year warranty on the power supply and associated electronics, and a three year warranty on the diodes. In the very unlikely event of a component failure, Orphek will provide a new unit and have the defective unit returned in its box so the aquarist isn't without lighting. Now this is a warranty I can live with.


I finished my review by conducting an electrical test of both the Orphek PR-156 and a MH system and can report the following results:

Orphek PR-156

Watts -- 128

Current -- 1.16

Power factor -- 90%

Kw/hour - .12

Twin 175 watt metal halides powered by PFO ballasts

Watts -- 360

Current -- 3.14

Power factor -- 95%

Kw/hour - .37

 Although the PR-156 is claimed to replace a 400 watt MH lamp, the comparison was made with a 350 watt MH system. As you can see, the energy savings is very respectable compared to the 350 watt MH system. Based on my energy provider's rate of 10.24 cents per kilowatt hour, the Orphek PR-156 energy cost came in at $3.68 per month based on a daily 10 hour photoperiod, while the MH system cost $11.36 per month, and this does not reflect bulb replacement costs, and water cooling devices such as fans or chillers.

 If you have a deep tank and are looking to cut back your energy usage along with eliminating bulb replacement and still provide the necessary light to grow corals, you will presently find no equal to the Orphek PR-156. Orphek has just informed me (10/18/10) that the units will be in limited supply until late December when International distribution begins.


Extremely bright

Very energy efficient

Very little heat generated which allows tanks to run cooler

High PAR/PUR ratio

50,000+ hour lamp life

Quality workmanship

Quality materials

8000 Lumens

Great color (CRI 88)

High quality feature packed timers

Great warranty



Pricey, but considering what a quality 250-400 watt MH single system costs, it begins to look much better, especially in lieu of the total savings gained total savings gained in energy consumption and lamp replacement costs.

Buttons on timers too close together

Further reading

LED Lighting, the New Horizon in Aquarium Lighting?, James Gasta, WetWebMedia.com


1.  Photo © Orphek

2.  Plastic covers are provided for the timers. Photo © James Gasta

3.  Power supply top view. Photo © James Gasta

4.  Blue backlighting is very useful for making adjustments in dimly lit rooms. Photo © James Gasta

5.  I was impressed with the massive heat sink used in the LED module. Photo © James Gasta

6.  Blue backlighting is very useful for making adjustments in dimly lit rooms. Photo © James Gasta

7.  Little to no reflection/refraction off the water's surface. Photo © James Gasta

8.  Right side lit with 175 watt, 10K metal halide. Photo © James Gasta

9.  Black model shown with hanging kit. Photo © Orphek

Orphek DIF 50 LED Pendant    3/7/12
Hi Bob,
 Just an update.  Ofir has held off sending me the DIF 50 Pendant as they are customizing the LED multi chip for
improved color.  He said I should receive the very first sample to review in a couple of days.
Exciting! B
Re: Orphek DIF 50 LED Pendant

It is.  I'm honored that they asked me if I'd like to review it.
As you should be. B

Was Algae and Livestock in Tall Open Refugium, now James's Orphek rev. 8/28/11
Hello again,
<Hello Jenny>
The review was very well done.
<Thank you!>
I completely agree on the overkill of the amount of programs possible, but variety is the spice of life they say.
<Yes it is.>
Once I figured it out, it was easy. We also had some problems with the controllers. We're still waiting second time around, for a replacement. On one of the controllers the backlight was very dim, and the moonlights weren't working. We actually bought four units, two with the UV lights and two regular. Out of the four, we've had problems with two of them. Two controllers weren't working and a light was damaged. All has been settled except one controller that we're waiting for. The moonlights weren't working. The vendor from which we purchased the lights contacted the owner of Orphek, Ofir, who in turn contacted us to let us know that sometimes during shipping the timer groover jumps out. We should take it out and put it back in. He said it may be that or the driver. We could have checked this but my husband had already sent the last unit that still wasn't working back via UPS to the retailer we bought it from so we're still waiting for the replacement. As of now, three of the units are working great. All that being said, it is a hassle to have problems like this with such expensive equipment, however, they are under warranty, and things happen.
<Hopefully all your problems were just an isolated case and not the norm.>
I'm sure once we get the last controller back, we are going to be happy with our choice. The lighting is just stunning, and the moonlights are breathtaking. I could watch the shimmer for quite some time with no livestock in the tank.
<I'm currently reviewing the AquaBeam 1000 HD Ultra Tiles. Much more compact than the Orphek and does not require cooling fans. The eight channel controller is very easy to use and features a ramp up/ramp down programming option allowing one to simulate sunrise/sunset. I'm pretty happy with it, nice workmanship and excellent color.>
Thank you for the tips on acclimating the corals and nitrate education as well. I really appreciate it. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
<You're welcome, Jenny. James (Salty Dog)>
More re Orphek LED      8/30/11

Hello crew/Darrel,
Weird how that query disappeared, isn't it.
As to the Orphek PR-156. Yes, it's plenty intense enough to grow anything at that depth. But with the standard reflectors, I doubt if you would get enough light spread.
If you plan on getting one of those, order the model with the 120 degree reflectors (PR-156W). They incorporate a honeycomb type of reflector that spreads the light a little better but with a little PAR loss. In your depth tank, I really doubt it would be a problem.
The standard model has 90 degree reflectors. I'd email them before emptying your wallet just to be sure.
You can email Douglas at usa@orphek.com.
You may also want to look at the Tropical Marine Centre's Aquabeam 1000 HD Ultra Tiles. I'm reviewing those at present and they are very nice lights and appear to have much less red, blue, and orange than the Orphek. TMC, in tandem with Cree, tailored the newest Cree XR-E diode Kelvin temperature so as not too waste energy in the unneeded spectrum range. And, the TMC tiles do not use cooling fans. The Orphek has more color pop, but I prefer the ice blue look of the TMC tiles. I will be supplementing the three tiles with one of their Aquaray 600 marine blue strips which peak at 468nm. This will/should give me a little more color pop. If you need any more info on this system or the Orphek, just let me know.
More re Orphek lgtg.  8/30/11

<Hi Darrel>
It is odd, yes. I know it used to work before because I've used it many times. Or, at least, I think I did. Getting older. Who knows for sure?
I thought it worth reporting, anyhow. Sure makes it hard to search and not bug you for answers if the tool isn't working, don'tcha know.
Thanks for the advice on the lights, James.
<You're welcome.>
I was unsure that one 24" light would provide enough punch to do anything. That's good news, though, because talking my wife into letting me spend $900 on lights is a whole lot easier than getting permission to spend $1800.
<I really don't think one unit will do your tank, even with the wide lenses, but
Douglas should steer you right. I'm pretty sure five of the Aquabeam 1000 HD Ultra Reef White tiles should light your tank nicely. They run 345.00 each at Dr. Tim's Aquatics.
Would still be cheaper than two Orpheks. I'll ask Michael at TMC for his recommendation for your size
tank. When you consider the power savings, negligible heat, and no lamps to replace yearly, the LEDs are the way to go.>
I'll definitely e-mail Douglas before pulling the trigger. I also want to look at your other recommendation. When do you think you'll post your review?
<Neale probably won't post it until the Winter issue but I'll send you the review
when I've completed it. Just don't pass it around.>
I know the prices on these should come down in time, but can you pick up your crystal ball and speculate as to when they'll maybe drop under $600 for something like the PR-156W?
<When I reviewed the PR-156, the price was 699.00, so they have gone up rather than
down. The two timers that come with the PR-156 really add to the cost and I don't believe you
can buy them with just a simple power supply. There is too much overkill in the timers. James

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