LED lights have quickly come to the forefront of lighting technology for aquariums and for great reason. They last a long time, are very economical, offer some really neat and advanced control options, and produce a beautiful spectrum of light.
We picked four of our favorite LED lights priced under $400 to give you guys a side-by-side look at what each of these popular lights has to offer in order to help you choose the perfect light for your tank.
EcoTech Marine Radion XR15w G4 Pro
The EcoTech Marine XR15x G4 Pro is probably the most advanced option because of the robust web-based control platform, EcoSmart Live. Here you can control and customize just about every aspect of the Radion light and sync it together with all of your EcoSmart enabled aquarium equipment. For wireless connection, you will need to purchase the EcoTech Marine ReefLink but right out of the box you can connect to EcoSmart Live via a USB cord directly to your computer. The onboard controls are pretty limited so connecting to and using Ecosmart live is highly recommended to experience all of the great features this cornerstone light fixture has to offer.
The fixture itself is very powerful with a maximum energy consumption of 95 watts and will provide sufficient light over a 24” x 24” area. The new HEI optics included with the Gen4 model blend the LED light in such a way that minimizes color zones and produces a very natural looking spectrum. The Led board contains 23 individual LED diodes in 8 different colors and uses top-bin diodes from Cree, Osram and SemiLED to achieve the best output possible.
AI Hydra TwentySix HD
Next up, the Aqua Illumination Hydra TwentySix HD. This is another very powerful light for the money and comes with some amazing built-in control options. With built-in wifi you can quickly connect and program this light fixture within minutes using the MyAI app and better yet, no additional equipment is required to wireless connect and control this light fixture. Just like the EcoTech Marine XR15 light, the on board controls are very limited and you will need to connect and control this light using the MyAI app from your smartphone, tablet or PC.
The unique feature of the Hydra 26 is the HD power option which allows you to borrow un-used power from other LED channels to boost the power of the color channels you are using. This feature is not found on any other LED light on the market which makes it one of the most economical and powerful lights in it’s class.
It will consume a maximum of 90 watts at full power and includes a total of 26 LED diodes in 7 different colors. It will effectively cover a 24” x 24” area and the included lenses blend the colors nicely to produce an even shimmer inside your tank. The fixtures are compatible with a myriad of AI mounting options including the EXT mounting systems, classic kits and the new HMS mounting system all of which are sold separately.
Kessil A360WE Tuna Blue
The Kessil A360WE Tuna Blue is one my favorites because of the straight forward operation and beautiful color spectrum it produces. The proprietary kessil logic blends the light in such a way to produce optimal color spectrums for photosynthesis in your aquarium. The LED chip inside the fixture is a little different because rather than using multiple single diodes in a tight cluster, Kessil uses a single multi-diode chip to produce the light.
The fixture has a small profile but with the built in optics, it will effectively cover a 24” x 24” area and can penetrate tanks up to 30” deep all while consuming no more than 90 watts of power. The on-board control dials give you the ability to manually adjust the intensity and color spectrum from white daylight to deep 20K blue. If advanced control is what you are looking for, the Kessil A360 does include a couple of 0-10V control ports that make it compatible with a variety of third part aquarium controllers as well as the Kessil Controller which is sold separately. Once hooked up to a controller you can program time schedules, adjust intensity and color.
Based on the design, these lightweight fixtures can easily be mounted with suspension kits. Kessil also offers a flexible gooseneck or mounting arm if you wish to attach the light to the side of your tank both of which are sold separately.
Aquatic Life Halo Deluxe Marine
Last but certainly not least is the Aquatic Life Halo Deluxe which is the most affordable light of the three but is a close contender because it is also very powerful and controllable. Similar to the Kessil A360, the Halo uses a multi-diode LED chip to produce a beautiful full spectrum light and will cover an area up to 24” wide with the built in 80 degree optics. It will consume a maximum of 85 watts at full power.
The Deluxe model has two control knobs, one for intensity and one for color control but also has an on-board digital timer. Therefore, you don’t need any extra equipment or access via an App to get this light up and running over your tank. Just program the on board timer, adjust the color and intensity and your all set. Now don’t let this fool you because the light is just as intelligent as all the others with the 0-10v control ports which allow you to connect and control with an aquarium controller. Aquatic Life even has a couple of pre-wired cables available separately to make your life easy when connecting with a Neptune Systems Apex or Digital Aquatics Archon.
The light can easily be suspended via the suspension rings on top of the fixture or you can purchase the Aquatic Life mounting arm which allows you to connect the light right on the side of your tank.
There you have it folks, the best LED lights you can get for under $400. While it is hard for me to choose my absolute favorite, I think each fixture offers something a little different and all of them are excellent options for illuminating a reef tank.
Maxspect Razor R420R
If you have a bit of room in your budget, the 20.5” Maxspect Razor is also an excellent choice and comes in at $429 with 130W of power, 10 different spectrums of LED’s and an easy to use 2-channel onboard controller.
At Marine Depot we carry hundreds of light fixtures from 42 different brands including LED, Metal Halide and T5 fluorescent so if anything discussed in this video does not meet your needs, rest assured MD has an option for you and our trained team of experts are happy to guide you through selecting the perfect light for your tank.