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Orphek's DIF XP Pendant Reviewed by
LED Lighting, the New Horizon
in Aquarium Lighting? by James Gasta, Switching from Metal Halides to LEDs by
Michael Maddox, Marine System
Marine Light, Lighting Marine
Lighting, Coral System
Lighting, GFCIs and Marine
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
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 Â¾" x 5
Â¾" x 2 Â¾". 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
|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 Â¼" 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
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
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
|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.
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 Â½ 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
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
I finished my review by conducting an electrical
test of both the Orphek PR-156 and a MH system and can report the
Watts -- 128
Current -- 1.16
Power factor -- 90%
Kw/hour - .12
Twin 175 watt metal halides powered by PFO
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
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.
Very energy efficient
Very little heat generated which allows tanks to
High PAR/PUR ratio
50,000+ hour lamp life
Great color (CRI 88)
High quality feature packed timers
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
LED Lighting, the New Horizon in Aquarium
Lighting?, James Gasta, WetWebMedia.com
covers are provided for the timers. Photo © James
supply top view. Photo © James Gasta
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
backlighting is very useful for making adjustments in dimly lit rooms.
Photo © James Gasta
to no reflection/refraction off the water's surface. Photo ©
side lit with 175 watt, 10K metal halide. Photo © James
model shown with hanging kit. Photo © Orphek
Orphek DIF 50 LED Pendant
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.
Re: Orphek DIF 50 LED Pendant
It is. I'm honored that they asked me if I'd like to
As you should be. B
Was Algae and Livestock in Tall Open Refugium, now
James's Orphek rev. 8/28/11
The review was very well done.
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
<Hopefully all your problems were just an isolated case and not the
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
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
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 email@example.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
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
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
Thanks for the advice on the lights, James.
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