[originally published in issue 83, August 2020]
It’s been around 3 years since the launch of EcoTech’s Radion G4 (we reviewed the XR30 G4 Pro in issue 66, October 2017). In that period, while the G4 has kept EcoTech firmly at the pinnacle of the reef aquarium lighting market, they’ve clearly continued to ‘push the envelope’ behind the scenes, refining this proven technology in line with both the latest research into captive coral husbandry and evolving hobbyist, public aquaria and aquaculture industry demands.
As with previous Radion generations, the G5 is available in two sizes, the larger rectangular XR30 and smaller, square XR15 as seen here. Unlike previous generations though, each model is now available as either ‘Pro’ or ‘Blue’ model, and there is no ‘non Pro’ version. In a nutshell, the new Blue model has launched largely due to the popularity of heavily blue spectrum lit tanks such as those following the widely lauded CoraLab AB+ profile, an emulation of a T5 scheme which is known for both it’s ability to grow and showcase SPS corals. While there are very few white diodes in a Blue fixture, necessitating a reduction in the blue channels to achieve a whitish light, the Pro fixture still offers the ability to produce a whiter scheme which has specific applications, such as in enhancing certain SPS corals pigments and keeping giant clams, or simply for those that prefer a white look to their lighting scheme. Together the two models therefore cover a wide gamut of currently popular reef tank lighting profiles both in terms of livestock health and aesthetic demands. As ever, the light spectrum offered, and the ability to ‘tune’ it, remains exceptional with these fixtures… but more on that shortly.
Comparing the G4 and G5 physically, one of the major differences is in the LED array and take note that the G5 now boasts an impressive 105 diodes compared to 46 in the G4 XR30 Pro. In the G5 XR15 there are now 52, up from 24. These LED diodes are spread across a rectangular or square panel rather than condensed into circular pucks and there are 10 channels of colour control spanning the full spectrum, from UV to Photo Red. In terms of power consumption, the G5 sees a slight increase in draw from the G4 (less than 10%) and you may think, how can this be the case if there are now so many more LEDs in each fixture? Well, this is because although there are more LEDs, the power to each has been regulated for maximum efficiency rather than purely running each at it’s maximum safe power, as in previous versions. The bottom-line is, as well as maximising the life expectancy of each diode, overall this confers a claimed 35% increase in PAR output giving keepers of even the most light hungry species more than enough power to play with. This increase is also achieved through an extensive refinement of the optics and the comparatively bulbous HEI (Hemisperical Edge Illumination) lenses of G4 models are now replaced by much smaller HEI2 lenses which are incorporated into a one piece frosted shield covering the LED array. This of course moves us further away from the shadowing, hotspot and disco-effect problems indicative of cheaper or early generation LED technology and the effect can be taken even further using the G5s built-in magnets to attach EcoTech’s diffuser attachment, sold separately. Overall light spread from each fixture is increased slightly and therefore makes moving the fixture slightly closer to the water surface an option. Overall though the XR15 is still ideal for illuminating a surface area of up to 24” square and situated so produces an essentially flat light distribution chart at around 8-9” from the water. While the XR30 version of the G5 has had something more of an overhaul in terms of heat management (with the fan now mounted dorsally rather than ventrally), the XR15 fan arrangement is similar to the G4 XR15 but take note that the fan has been completely redesigned by EcoTech to maximise cooling while minimising noise. Having had our test unit running for several weeks now, we can confirm it is whisper-quiet even running at 100% on a hot day.
Let’s look at controllability next, and the first fact to note is that the G5 range exclusively uses the new Mobius App, doing away with the sometimes clunky Reeflink and EcoSmart Live. Through Bluetooth LE, it is ridiculously simple to link to a G5 fixture and with just a few taps on your screen you can select sunrise and set times, select CoraLab lighting profiles such as the AB+ program, Radiant Colour, LPS and Soft coral profile, or metal halide emulating PHX14 profile. You can go further and manipulate individual channels, set points and intensity manually if you desire, and choose thunderstorm, cloud cover and lunar effects if you wish (the G5 even has dedicated moonlight diodes). Although there is no ability to remotely control the G5 from outside Bluetooth range, we don’t think this is a bad thing indeed we’ve always struggled to think of an instance where one would need to tinker with light settings away from the tank. For Neptune Apex users, take note that the G5 range is not compatible, even with the WXM module, which we know will be a disappointment to some.
Finally, we have mounting options and take note that the shifting of the fan position means that users of the RMS components will need one of the sleek new adapters to allow the fixture to slide onto the rails, be it in single arm or multi light format. These shiny piano black mounts look fantastic though and allow the fixture to be slid into landscape or portrait orientation over the tank. Our only minor comment is that in single arm configuration, the power cable configuration means that it sticks out a little from the side of the unit before it can be routed back over the arm. Having said this, all other configurations would not experience this issue.
Launched earlier this year, we’ve been keeping our eyes on user feedback and aside from some apparent minor early issues with packaging and assembly which EcoTech swiftly addressed, there seem to be no recurring problems reported. We’ve had our own unit in use for several weeks and so far so good, infact we’d go further to say that we’ve been extremely impressed with both the design and functionality of this light. The Blue model seems to be a characteristically clever move from EcoTech in that it gives reef-keepers both a proven, yet simple route to instant results, while the Pro will appeal to those who like to follow their own path. As ever, it’s all packaged into a stunning, sleek and compact fixture the likes of which we could only dream about back in the days of Metal Halides and T8s. That’s it for this unboxing and initial impressions review but we’ll be bringing you further updates as we gain experience of using it in the real world, so keep your eyes open for updates on the new test tank!
For further information on pricing and detailed specs visit: ecotechmarine.com/
And for developments from UK distributor Xodis visit:
And for developments from UK distributor Xodis visit: