T5 UVI comparison Arcadia vs Sun Blaze fixture

Markw84

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People often ask how high they should mount their UV bulbs. The problem is there are so many variables it is only solved by the use of a Solarmeter 6.5. They are somewhat pricey so many go without, However, advice then given may or may not be accurate at all. One variable is the type of fixture the bulb will be used in. A different fixture with the identical bulb will give totally different reading and require different mounting heights. I am not even discussing the less expensive hardware brands of T5 fixtures as they are not at all reliable in my opinion. But even the better brands vary tremendously.

My reptile show partner, Will - @Kapidolo Farms and I were looking at various options for sources of fixtures for UVB lights. Will had come across some Sun Blaze fixtures that looked promising, so he asked me if I had experience with them. I replied I did not but would gladly do a test comparison with the Arcadia brand I use as a standard. So Will sent me a Sun Blaze and I did a plotting of the UVI output at both 12" and 18" exactly from sensor to bottom of bulb.

Unfortunately translating that to a easily interpreted chart takes a bit of work and it got shoved and lost on the back burner for a while. Thanks to a reminder from Will, I got the data out and did the plotting and graphics and can now post the results in an easy to see format commonly used in comparing bulbs.

You can immediately see the Sun Blaze is not made for reptile basking, but for Plant lighting. It is designed to fan the light into a broader pattern without the focus of the Arcadia. This is great for plants as you can light a larger area, especially when not dealing with UVB output. At the 12" height it does give a nice broad pattern of UVI in the 2-3 range that is quite useful in an enclosure with limited height. I would not use it with a tortoise that is not small and its positioning could bring it or its eyes closer to the bulb. At 12" there is quite an increase if the tortoise can get to 8" for example. The Arcadia Pro T5 does provide a more designed basking zone and focuses the light into nice gradients. Because the fixture reflector is focused, the UVB is much greater and not usable at the 12" distance as it is too intense. But at the 18" level, it does provide a great, wide basking zone.

Here are the results. The same T5 12% Arcadia bulb was used in both fixtures. It is a new bulb with only a 1 hour burn in time, but I do not see substantial changes in those bulbs after an hour. The fixtures are both the 22" T5 fixture. One is the Arcadia Pro T5. The other the Sun Blaze T5. Both are HO fixtures.

The plot area shown is 30" long by 22" wide

Sun Blaze T5 at 12" height.

T5 12% comparison Sun Blaster.jpg


Arcadia Pro T5 at 12" height.

Arcadia Pro T5 at 12%  T5 12% comparison arcadia vs Sun Blaster.jpg

Sun Blaze T5 at 18" height.

T5 12% comparison Sun Blaster 18 inches.jpg
Arcadia Pro T5 at 18" height.

Arcadia Pro T5 at 18 inches  T5 12% comparison arcadia vs Sun Blaster.jpg
 
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Krista S

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Wow! I can’t believe the difference. I am working on designing a new enclosure for my tortoise and unfortunately I already bought the Sunblaster fixture to use with the Zoo med reptisun 10.0 T5 HO Bulb. I believe the window to return it ended a couple of days ago. I did put the bulb in the fixture and used my Solarmeter 6.5r to make sure I was getting a good reading before packing it back up to await the new enclosure. After seeing your data, it looks like I should cut my losses and try to find the Arcadia fixture. Arcadia is very difficult to find where I live, so that’s why I ordered the Sunblaster in the first place. Thank you for this valuable information!!
 

Kapidolo Farms

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Very interesting. I use 18 inch tall enclosures, and with a few inches of substrate and a few inches of space to hang the fixture I end up with the tube/reflector about 10 to 12 inches from the substrate, so a bit less once you include the height of the tortoise.

BTW, I believe I sent SunBlaze, not SunBlaster fixtures.

@Markw84 I think I recall that you mentioned somewhere that it seems possible that UVA is 'over' produced relative to how tortoises behave and the penetration of the UV's. Maybe I've had a good system using the SunBlaze and the closer distance.

The whole of my interest here was Fran Baines (sp) noting on the 'Reptile Lighting' FaceBook group that SunBlaster had changed a coating on the Mylar reflector to make them more 'fire safe' and that the coating significantly reduced the UV chart such as the one you produced here.

SunBlaster
1595265189053.png

SunBlaze
1595265341596.png

These are not the best comparative images, but you can see that the Arcadia fixture more or less are the same as the the SunBlaster, a narrower focus, while the SunBlaze does throw the light in a much broader area, as Mark says, to support plant growth.

This is the Arcadia fixture.
1595265542785.png
You can see, I hope, it is half way between the two for the width of the reflector. So, @Krista S your SunBlaster may or may not bee a concern, the breadth of the refection may be even more intense than what Mark has shown relative the the Arcadia fixture, but it is not A SunBlaster in the comparison, but a SunBlaze. That the fixture you bough has or does not have the anti-fire coating that originally brought this whole question up is not resolved here.

I have begun to use the Arcadia Shade dweller, https://www.arcadiareptile.com/lighting/shadedweller-prot5/ as it works well in close proximity to the tortoise (low ceiling), and I am converting all 'plant and ambient lighting to cool (5000 to 6000K) LEDs. the produce less heat and more light for the $$.

I've also recently seen an idea on FaceBook where the person had two timers in series. The first one is for the regular ON/OFF of 12 to 14 hours of light/dark, while the second one is programmed to run for two hours at a time with the UV plugged into it. This distributes the UV exposure to different times during the first timer's 'light' period, but in two hour events. The idea is to provide behavioral enrichment, and to not expose the tortoise to a full 'daytime' of the UV's. I have no anecdotal report on the timers in series yet to report.
1595265854488.png
 

Krista S

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@Kapidolo Farms thank you for the clarification on SunBlaster vs SunBlaze. The SunBlaster I bought is exactly like the one you have pictured, but I have no idea if my reflector has the new anti-fire coating or not. I will set up the fixture and bulb soon to double check everything with the Solarmeter again and make a decision based on that. Thank you again to both you and @Markw84 for the time, money and effort you put into this experiment.
 

Markw84

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@Kapidolo Farms Will, Thanks for the catch on my error. It is indeed the Sun Blaze not the Sun Blaster fixture that we were comparing.

IMG_0577(1).jpg

In our discussions I did voice concern that the use of artificial UV sources in our eclosures does alter the ratio of UV exposure vs total "light" we flood out enclsures with.

Natural sunlight at the earth's surface, after atmospheric filtering, is about 3% UV, 44% visible light and the rest IR. Of the UV reaching earth surface, about 95% is UVA, 5% UVB.

With our UVB tubes, we have about 40%-45% as UV and 50% visible light. So if the UV light is our only light in the enclosure, we have about 15 times more UV in the "light" reaching the tortoise as with natural sunlight. So alot of the visual and heat cues are missing that would tell the tortoise to get out of the sun and seek shade.

I add a LOT of bright LED light to my enclosures to dramatically change that percentage and get the total UV percentage back down. An incadescent basking light will also help, but is quite less intense and does not change the percentages as it would cut them by less than 1/2. So I feel the bright LEDs are necessary to come closer to a realistic balance. I feel most enclosures are dramatically underlit as a result. Even thinking a lower percentage UVb bulb - like a 5% bulb is better for a "low light forest species", we then still have around 40% of the output UV and 55% visible light. It's just the UVB portion that drops to 5% but the UVA is still close to 35%. A less bright enclosure to keep it "forest-like" means no offsetting balance in visible light. So the cues for basking vs seeking shade are totally changed.

This is one of the main reasons I have gone to bright lighting plus plenty of plant cover. I would much rather try to create a forest canopy cover instead of dimming the light.
 

Olive_Hermann

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People often ask how high they should mount their UV bulbs. The problem is there are so many variables it is only solved by the use of a Solarmeter 6.5. They are somewhat pricey so many go without, However, advice then given may or may not be accurate at all. One variable is the type of fixture the bulb will be used in. A different fixture with the identical bulb will give totally different reading and require different mounting heights. I am not even discussing the less expensive hardware brands of T5 fixtures as they are not at all reliable in my opinion. But even the better brands vary tremendously.

My reptile show partner, Will - @Kapidolo Farms and I were looking at various options for sources of fixtures for UVB lights. Will had come across some Sun Blaze fixtures that looked promising, so he asked me if I had experience with them. I replied I did not but would gladly do a test comparison with the Arcadia brand I use as a standard. So Will sent me a Sun Blaze and I did a plotting of the UVI output at both 12" and 18" exactly from sensor to bottom of bulb.

Unfortunately translating that to a easily interpreted chart takes a bit of work and it got shoved and lost on the back burner for a while. Thanks to a reminder from Will, I got the data out and did the plotting and graphics and can now post the results in an easy to see format commonly used in comparing bulbs.

You can immediately see the Sun Blaze is not made for reptile basking, but for Plant lighting. It is designed to fan the light into a broader pattern without the focus of the Arcadia. This is great for plants as you can light a larger area, especially when not dealing with UVB output. At the 12" height it does give a nice broad pattern of UVI in the 2-3 range that is quite useful in an enclosure with limited height. I would not use it with a tortoise that is not small and its positioning could bring it or its eyes closer to the bulb. At 12" there is quite an increase if the tortoise can get to 8" for example. The Arcadia Pro T5 does provide a more designed basking zone and focuses the light into nice gradients. Because the fixture reflector is focused, the UVB is much greater and not usable at the 12" distance as it is too intense. But at the 18" level, it does provide a great, wide basking zone.

Here are the results. The same T5 12% Arcadia bulb was used in both fixtures. It is a new bulb with only a 1 hour burn in time, but I do not see substantial changes in those bulbs after an hour. The fixtures are both the 22" T5 fixture. One is the Arcadia Pro T5. The other the Sun Blaze T5. Both are HO fixtures.

The plot area shown is 30" long by 22" wide

Sun Blaze T5 at 12" height.

View attachment 300553


Arcadia Pro T5 at 12" height.

View attachment 300554

Sun Blaze T5 at 18" height.

View attachment 300555
Arcadia Pro T5 at 18" height.

View attachment 300556

Mark, thank you so much for this. I have the Arcadia T5 12% at 17” and I was worried it would be too intense for my young hermanns tortoise, but from your diagram, it is okay 😅. Much appreciated. Kind regards, Jay
 

Markw84

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IN my enclosures I have 4 1100 lumen 90+ CRI leds mounted in the ceiling of each 4x3 section.

Here's the main side with the UVB and basking light.

IMG_0823(1).jpg

Here's the other side of the double unit with the 80 watt Radiant Heat Panel

IMG_0937.jpg
 

Olive_Hermann

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IN my enclosures I have 4 1100 lumen 90+ CRI leds mounted in the ceiling of each 4x3 section.

Here's the main side with the UVB and basking light.

View attachment 313017

Here's the other side of the double unit with the 80 watt Radiant Heat Panel

View attachment 313018

Wow that looks excellent!! Thank you for posting. It helps to be able to visualise it and show to a professional because this is a little out of my knowledge area 😂. - I do know what CRI and Lumens are now though!
Thanks and kind regards, Jay
 

TC_Romeo92

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@Kapidolo Farms Will, Thanks for the catch on my error. It is indeed the Sun Blaze not the Sun Blaster fixture that we were comparing.

View attachment 300718

In our discussions I did voice concern that the use of artificial UV sources in our eclosures does alter the ratio of UV exposure vs total "light" we flood out enclsures with.

Natural sunlight at the earth's surface, after atmospheric filtering, is about 3% UV, 44% visible light and the rest IR. Of the UV reaching earth surface, about 95% is UVA, 5% UVB.

With our UVB tubes, we have about 40%-45% as UV and 50% visible light. So if the UV light is our only light in the enclosure, we have about 15 times more UV in the "light" reaching the tortoise as with natural sunlight. So alot of the visual and heat cues are missing that would tell the tortoise to get out of the sun and seek shade.

I add a LOT of bright LED light to my enclosures to dramatically change that percentage and get the total UV percentage back down. An incadescent basking light will also help, but is quite less intense and does not change the percentages as it would cut them by less than 1/2. So I feel the bright LEDs are necessary to come closer to a realistic balance. I feel most enclosures are dramatically underlit as a result. Even thinking a lower percentage UVb bulb - like a 5% bulb is better for a "low light forest species", we then still have around 40% of the output UV and 55% visible light. It's just the UVB portion that drops to 5% but the UVA is still close to 35%. A less bright enclosure to keep it "forest-like" means no offsetting balance in visible light. So the cues for basking vs seeking shade are totally changed.

This is one of the main reasons I have gone to bright lighting plus plenty of plant cover. I would much rather try to create a forest canopy cover instead of dimming the light.
With that in mind, do you think using a dual fixture could help? Like having one tube being the UVB and the other being LED/fluorescent? Or is it better to have one bulb per fixture, would having two different bulbs effect the spread?
 

Markw84

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With that in mind, do you think using a dual fixture could help? Like having one tube being the UVB and the other being LED/fluorescent? Or is it better to have one bulb per fixture, would having two different bulbs effect the spread?
It is the UVI level at tortoise height that is what you want to control. Spreading out the basking zone is fine, and I like to do that, but it is still the UVI at tortoise level that controls how much UV I want to expose them to.

I would only use fixtures designed for the specific bulb I will be using, not a general fixture, single or dual that you add a UVB bulb to. I use only T5 HO UVB bulbs and will only use a fixture made for that same type of bulb. I feel the quality of the light emitted and the life of the bulb is greatly effected by the specific design of the fixture and ballast. An extra $10-$15 to get an Arcadia fixture for Arcadia bulbs, for example, is well worth it in my estimation.

I also like good LEDs for ambient lighting. Fluorescent bulb do put out a substantial amount of heat, especially T5 HO bulbs. That can easily overheat a good closed chamber with the UVB bulb if you then add more T5s for added light.
 

TC_Romeo92

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It is the UVI level at tortoise height that is what you want to control. Spreading out the basking zone is fine, and I like to do that, but it is still the UVI at tortoise level that controls how much UV I want to expose them to.

I would only use fixtures designed for the specific bulb I will be using, not a general fixture, single or dual that you add a UVB bulb to. I use only T5 HO UVB bulbs and will only use a fixture made for that same type of bulb. I feel the quality of the light emitted and the life of the bulb is greatly effected by the specific design of the fixture and ballast. An extra $10-$15 to get an Arcadia fixture for Arcadia bulbs, for example, is well worth it in my estimation.

I also like good LEDs for ambient lighting. Fluorescent bulb do put out a substantial amount of heat, especially T5 HO bulbs. That can easily overheat a good closed chamber with the UVB bulb if you then add more T5s for added light.
Thank you for your input, we use T5 HO for all of our other reptiles but haven't put much though into how that light might be over exposing them at certain heights. I was intrigued while reading that thread and the comments.
 
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