Pacific Sun Pandora S LED/T5 unit review

Reviews | 19th September 2013 | Article by RichardT | View comments (0)

Overview

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145 watts of LED’s with 2 x 24” T5 tubes. They are both independently controllable with the LEDs spread across 9 individually controllable channels. The LEDS are ( I am not 100% certain as the software shows 9 channels , the website lists 8 different leds)

  • Cyan
  • Amber
  • UV-A – 400 & 420 nm
  • Royal Blues – 450nm – Cree
  • Royal blues – 465nm – Cree
  • Blue/moonlight – 475nmm – Cree
  • Royal blue – 460nm
  • Green – 530nm – Cree
  • Orange/red – 610-630nm

Control software

They are controlled with either an Android app or with a PC based software over Bluetooth. They advertise Mac software but it is listed as beta software. I’m not a mac user so I cant make any comments on the stability of this software. The PC software seems reasonably robust and feature rich. I cant really see anything missing you can fiddle with the settings to your hearts content, for some there will be too many choices. There are some nice features like an acclimation programme for when transferring from another lighting system.

The android control is flaky on my devices, it wont install at all on my Nexus 4, it installs on my Motorola Xoom but is fairly easy to crash. I don’t even bother to use it now, hopefully a future update will solve the stability issues or it may be just my devices, the Nexus is on Android 4.3 and the Motorola – Android 3.2 ( I think)
Another nice feature is that is shows the LED temperature, both current and historic maximum.

Build quality

This seems very solid, nice powder coated steel, no plastic to be seen on this unit except for the perpex splash guard under the LED’s the 2 fans are top mounted and very quiet. Controls on the unit are as far as I can tell a single 3 way toggle switch and a push button on the back. I believe that the toggle is off/on with LCD off/on with LCD on and the push button is to manually cycle through turning the LEDS and T5’s on. The front mounted LCD cycles through some useful info like, light mode, lamp power, current LED temp, time, time till sunset/sunrise and sunset duration. I have mine hung from the ceiling with the “free” hanging kit that was bundled at the time, this screws directly into the unit and is a simple robust hanging kit.

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Power is from 2 cords they are both Schuko/ Euro plug types and don’t come with adapters, while you can get cheap plastic adapters for around a pound, proper grounded Schuko adapters are more like £6 from Maplins. I’m not 100% certain if the device is grounded, but the cords supplied have all the connecters to be grounded (IEC 320-C5 to type F schuko & IEC 320-C13 to type F Schuko). Alternatively you might have a bunch on compatible cables around the house – I counted 10 suitable cables in my spares box. One cord is for the control + LED’s and this converts the power to DC – 24V, 6.25A via a powerbrick output terminating in some type of screw connector -( possibly a 16mm 4 pin screw connector) so this cant come undone. The other is a direct AC 240V type supply.

Unfortunately for me my power supply died after a few weeks, The distributer was able to replace it immediately which is a good rather than having to wait for one to be sent from the manufacturer which is in Poland. I think this is one of those things, anything electrical will have the occasional failure regardless of the manufacturer or country of origin. As long as this is speedily remedied I don’t get too concerned unless the quality was dire to start with – The power supplies are all CE marked ( Chinese made like they pretty much all are nowadays )and seem of reasonable quality, they don’t run too hot and they look like they have been tested by the manufacturer of the lights as they all have dated stickers on them.

Light output

The manufacturer claims a coverage of 100cm x 80cm x 80cm. I see no reason to disbelieve this. I am using this over a 90x60x45cm tank and there is plenty of light spillage to indicate that the spread would cover a larger tank. The LED’s are unlensed so they will have a natural output of around 120 degrees.

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I’ve done some PAR readings using an Apogee Quantum meter.
The unit was hung at 265mm above the water, readings are in salt water

LED’s at 50% on their own: PAR levels ranged from 38 to 52 on the sand bed.

LED’s 50% + T5 on ( iquatics Purple tube in front – new, Blue + at the rear – new): PAR levels ranged from 85 – 115 on the sand bed.

100% LED PAR values will be added when I get there as I’m still slowly increasing levels to not bleach my corals.

The look

There is great scope to get the light the way you want it to look, I’ve had a play with the light studio function which allows you to adjust each individual LED channel. I’m pretty much happy at the moment with the default settings, red and cyan are at 50% with everything else at 100% ( relative to each other ). You can go from the very Blue look to a planted fresh water tropical tank look. If you really wanted to be silly you can just have the green or red on their own. Shimmer levels are nice without being overwhelming, even with the T5’s, there is no obvious disco light effect on the sand. ( I was worried when I saw the video on their site as it looked very disco ) and despite there being no white LED’s at all it really isn’t apparent . This does make sense to me as the photopigments in our retinas are of 3 ( S, M & L ) differing types with the sensitivity peaks at 565-580nm ( red-L ) 535-545nm ( green-M ) 420-440 nm ( blue-S ). If we can perceive millions of distinct colour using just 3 photoreceptors, then recreating different looks with a set of distinct LED’s is no different, think of your RGB screen or CMYK printing.

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