Design, Features and Function

Design Concept:
These lights were conceived to be a balanced and blended lighting solution for the "glass box" market.  Lights specifically designed for growing tropical plants will probably grow most of them faster than these, but those "grow" lights produce very intense and harsh light (usually at 6700k) that is not the best option for human eyes.  Spectral Designs lights are a compromise between lights that grow plants well and a natural light spectrum presentation that is pleasing to look at and more beneficial for the animals when used in conjunction with the driver/controller.

Light Panels:
I call these "panels" because they can cover the entire top of your vivarium or tank, which allows the light to be better spread out over the entire enclosure (or not, it's up to you).  I can offer this approach because there is no "one size fits all" design strategy here.  Panels come in standard sizes for the most common applications, but they are not limited to those and panels can be sized to meet almost any design need you have.

Since the placement of vents and Mistking nozzles is not standard among hobbyists, establishing a design template that covers most or all tanks is not possible, hence the need for a flexible design strategy.


During development many LED strip products were tested from different Chinese manufacturers.  $1 per meter strips from Ebay too (you get what you pay for).  Not all strips are the same, even if they have the same specs.  Eliminating as much heat as possible was a primary goal.  These lights are very efficient, producing a lot of light without much heat, even by LED standards.  When compared to other lighting technologies, the lack of heat becomes even more obvious, to the point that the use of cooling fans should no longer be necessary.

At this time I have not measured the light output in lumens or LUX.  The reason is that these lights are not designed to compete with 'grow lights' and instead the output is a balance of intensity that grows plants well, with an overall color temp that is pleasant to look at.  Many veterans in the hobby have told me that running lights bright enough to grow plants as well as possible can be detrimental to natural animal behaviors in the vivarium, so for that reason the lights are not designed to compete with other units based on lumens or LUX.  If you find the output insufficiently bright, contact us and take advantage of the 30-day money back guarantee and mail the light(s) back.  You're only out the cost of shipping.

There are several options here, but the standard panel diode configuration is composed of two different custom strips (60 and 120 diodes/meter at 14.4w).  Lights can be assembled with both strips on a panel, or with just one of these types ...

Strip #1: bw--bw--bw--red--blue
bw = bright white running at approx. 6500k
red = 640-680nm
blue = 430-450nm
Strip #2: ww--bw--ww--bw
bw = bright white running at approx. 6500k
ww = warm wight running at approx. 3500k

A light using only Strip #1 would be for optimal plant growth, but will appear slightly blue shifted and harsh.  A light using only Strip #2 will be a nice warm natural temp and can be for anything, but it will not grow plants as well as Strip #1, or as well as a light that mixes both strips together.


All lights are based on 12v DC.  This is safer than AC and easier to work with in many ways, but it does require a distributed power strategy -- using either one power supply per light or with a large power supply that runs through a digital controller that can power 4 or 5 lights.  The controller creates what I call "a system" and it opens up many more options and features.


Digital Controller:
These control units are optional, but it's the key component in creating a system.  They have 5 output channels which are fully programmable for lights, fans, or any other 12V DC device. The unit can handle up to a 20amp input. I have already created programs that run 11, 12, 13 &14  hour light cycles with sunrise, sunset and peak day sun intensity effects.  You can install the control app for it on your PC and then edit and tweak the programs I've already created or make your own.  I often use 4 channels for lights and one for fans.  For more detailed info, click here.

I've decided upon some standard light panel sizes for the most common vivarium top surface sizes (like 16"x12" light for use on 18"x18" Exo-Terras), but what you choose to purchase is never limited to the stock sizes.  Just measure the surface area that a panel can cover on your tank, making sure not to overlap Mistking nozzles, or vents that you do not wish to cover (I run these lights over the top of vents often with no real consequences  -- make sure not to mist them though). 

If Mistking nozzles are positioned in a way that makes lighting difficult (which happens a lot), I can make a light panel with extra high borders so that the entire light fits right over the top of the nozzles and tubing.  Contact me via email to work out a specific design for your needs.

For a much more detailed discussion of how to choose the right size for you, please checkout this blog post.

The total height is a little less than 3/4" and the light panel is surrounded on 3 sides by an edge which helps to block stray light from leaking into the room. The back edge is open so that any heat building up can be dissipated.

Light Leakage?
'Light leakage' is a term I've come up with to describe lights that are suspended above the top of a vivarium, allowing the light produced to illuminate the entire room. My design stops this issue almost entirely because the light panel is designed to sit right on top of the glass  and is surrounded by an edge on three sides.  The only light leakage is from the back. This results in a much better viewing experience.

The lights are designed to run at an output level that might damage some plants if they were to run at the maximum output all of the time.  This allows the digital controller to run at levels less than 100% most of the day and only at max output for about 2 hours around midday; which better mimics a natural solar cycle.  If you do not purchase the optional controller, a manual dimmer is provided which can be set to a level where you don't fry your sensitive plants, or bother your animals.

Adding LED strips to panels that can produce UVB spectrum light is in the testing stage right now.  There will be additional costs for a light that incorporates UVB.  To make use of this UVB light you need to make sure that the UVB diodes on the panel are positioned directly over the top of a screen vent, as UVB light can not sufficiently penetrate glass to be effective metabolically to any animals.  You will need to measure accurately to make sure the panel is designed correctly for this positional requirement.


42" x 8" panel sitting on top of four 10 gallon vert conversions