Going Large?

Going Large?

There's a fairly obvious need for custom designed lighting for the biggest, often custom, glass boxes.  When the tank is tall, which I classify as anything over 24", there's a need for a light that has a lot of penetration power.  That need is usually filled best by some type of spotlight or high wattage unit.

Here's some images of a lighting project for a 36" (wide) x 24" (depth) x 48" (tall) custom vivarium.  There are 3 separate panels here because of the placement of a vent and mistking nozzles on the top of this display.  You will also notice the combined use of both LED strips and large chip LEDs (30w each).

All panels are 34" wide and about 1" tall.  From left to right the widths are 5", 6" and 7".  The spotlights alone add up to 120 watts, but because everything in this light array is dimmable, this design offers a lot of plant husbandry approaches.  When adding the driver/controller option all this power can be properly harnessed and put to good use.

The controller is programmed to do a nice sunrise and sunset.  With so much wattage in this array, my approach is to only hit the plants with 100% of the possible lumens for about 1-2 hours a day.  During the rest of the cycle the controller is ramping up the power and then after a midday peak, it ramps back down to a nice sunset.  This natural light cycle approach should encourage your finicky plants to do well. 

But as with all vivariums or terrariums, placement of delicate or hard to grow plants will be critical to success.  Since the driver/controller combo can easily be programmed by you (if the already provided programs do not meet your needs) you can fine tune the light cycle to your precise specifications.

With lots of light usually comes lots of heat, and these large chip LEDs are no exception, but the strips hardly generate any heat at all.  Each 30 watt chip needs to be cooled with its own fan and heatsink.  All the fans are wired into their own channel so that the fan speed is fully adjustable, which helps to reduce the fan noise to the lowest possible level while still cooling the chips properly.