by Richard Back
Ecotech Marine has been at the forefront of revolutionary reef technology for years, and their Radion fixtures have changed the shape of the growing reef aquarium lighting market. Their practical, “just works” approach for their fixture and accessory functionality, as well as their sleek and elegant design, has made many reefers choose Radions as their choice of light when they set up their tanks.
Sanjay Joshi's 500 gallon display tank illuminated with Ecotech Radion G4 Pros. He grew frags using G2 Pros and recently made the switch.
For functionality, the Radion series has always provided one of the highest amount par as well as the most ideal optics. Radions continue to be the trend setters for many companies to this day. Their older models provide easy modular interface where you can quickly replace older parts with newly released parts yourself to make it into the next generation of Radion. Echotech is one of the few light companies that allowed this type of platform for their customers. With each generation, new features and new innovations were made, proving all the naysayers wrong by outgrowing corals compared to other proven types of light fixtures such as metal halides or T5. (Albeit, this isn’t true with ALL corals but it’s well documented in Ecotech’s lab program)
Click HERE to read their LAB Program.
This year, they released 4th version of their Radion Series. In bold move for the big upgrade, they ditched the traditional modular upgrade approach that ecotech fans came to love. You can see the video here.
(Check around 3 min mark)
This is a pretty big bold power move from Ecotech. So, what’s the difference between Gen 3 and Gen 4? As you will see, there are some very massive changes under the hood. To help break it down, I spoke to Patrick Clasen of Ecotech who simplified A LOT things for me here.
1.) Lens. The Radion G4 uses HEI Optics (Hemispherical Edge Illumination) instead of TIR lenses.
“TIR Lens (that was used on gen 3) that created a peak of light, underneath the tank. It will give you a nice spread but created a hot spot (in) center of the cluster. Now with HEI Lens, what it does is that it spreads the light out into a spheres and a circles around and underneath the lens to create a plateau of light. So the peak intensity of the LED is actually lower than the intensity that was created by the gen 3 radions however the average PAR for the whole fixture is higher. So what we intended to do was give more useable area of coverage with fewer hot spots underneath the light.”
This lens also “… gave better color mixing. You won’t really see any separation of colors underneath the fixture, on the sand bed that will give you more natural look in your aquarium.”
From personal observation, I noticed that there were less shadows underneath the corals which meant photons are bounced around everywhere. Proving PAR wherever it’s being needed.
Image on the left is the traditional TIR Lens and images on the right is the new HEI Optic Lens.
2.) New LED puck
New LED puck gave more colors, according to Patrick, they “shifted from purple to blue spectrum by adding warm white as well as adding new red leds and revised new UVs.”
3.) New heat sink design.
Newly designed heat sink contains slots that will cool the unit more efficiently and adding ridges on the heat sink fins to increase surface area. This combined with greater mass of aluminum allows the fan to function more effectively and quietly.
This new fixture can be implemented and programmed together along with older generation of Radions with Eco Smart Live or from WXM from Neptune System’s Apex controllers.
Proven hobbyists and industry “gurus” such as Sanjay Joshi and Mike Palatta has been test driving these fixtures and had great success creating one of a kind ecosystem in their homes. Recently they upgraded from G2Pros to G4Pros.
“I like the g4 pro. Its more pleasing to my eyes, the warm whites help. They are brighter, almost 50W more, corals look better under it, and the spread is much better for my 4ft front to back tank.” - Sanjay Joshi
“I thought the 2s were great and were the first LEDs in my opinion that allowed me to grow sps as well as MHs. After now seeing the 4th generation lights on several tanks I am convinced that these lights are a significant improvement over the earlier versions with far better optics and inclusion of both warm and cool white LEDs improves the overall color of the tank. For the first time I found that you could take pictures without the blue cast being present and the corals had great color that came through in the photographs without having to do any manipulation. I have also seen rapid growth in sps under these lights, significantly more than I saw in the past. I am also hoping that Acropora milliporas do better under these than previous LEDs where they languished for me and others who tried them.” - Mike Palatta
Mike Paletta's SPS Dominated tank illuminated by Radion G4 Pros
Billy Rotne's SPS Dominant Display Tank illuminated by Radion G3Pros.
In conclusion, it’s my personal opinion that Ecotech has set another bar that many manufacturers would have to overcome to claim the throne of being the best LED company in the market. It’s flexibility programming of colors, intensity as well as having one of the nicest mounting accessories to go with, this is still THE light to beat. If you are in market for lights, do yourself a favor and take a look into this fixture before you make your decision.
You can check out my interview of Patrick Clasen here.
All the photos of the tanks were taken by the respective owners of the tanks.
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